Protecting Your Law Firm from Social Engineering: How to Recognise and Avoid Scams
Law firms are particularly vulnerable to social engineering threats because they deal with large amounts of sensitive data and often have high-level employees who attackers can target. To protect themselves, law firms need to be aware of the risks posed by social engineering and take steps to mitigate them.
This blog post will discuss how law firms can protect themselves from social engineering scams. We will also provide tips on spotting a scam and what to do if you think you’ve been targeted by one.
What Is Social Engineering and How Does It Work?
Social engineering is a security attack that relies on human interaction to trick users into revealing sensitive information or granting access to systems and data. Attackers use a variety of techniques, such as phishing and pretexting, to deceive their targets and gain the information they need.
In the context of law firms, social engineering can be used to gain access to sensitive information such as client data or financial records. Attackers may pose as employees, clients, or vendors in order to obtain login credentials, install malware, or steal data. Social engineering threats can be challenging to detect and prevent because they exploit human vulnerabilities rather than technical weaknesses.
Social engineering threats are often successful because they exploit human nature. We are naturally trusting and helpful creatures, making us susceptible to attackers who know how to exploit that trust.
Examples of Social Engineering Attacks
There are many examples of social engineering threats in relation to law firms. One common type of attack is when an attacker pretends to be a client or potential client to gain information about the firm or its clients. Other times, attackers may pose as firm employees to gain access to sensitive data or systems. Additionally, attackers may also target lawyers or staff members directly in order to obtain information or money.
One recent example of a social engineering attack against a law firm occurred in 2022 when hackers targeted a Queensland law firm with a phishing email campaign. The attackers used fake job offers and other lure emails to trick employees into clicking on links that led to malicious websites.
Once on these sites, the victims were prompted to enter their login credentials, which the attackers then used to gain access to the Queensland firm’s systems. The hackers were able to steal data from the firm, including information on clients and cases. The attacks come in the following forms:
1. Phishing Attacks
One of the most common social engineering threats is phishing, which involves sending fraudulent emails or other communications to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information such as passwords or credit card numbers. Phishing attacks can be very sophisticated and difficult to spot, especially if they come from a trusted source.
Pretexting is another type of social engineering attack involving creating a false scenario to obtain personal information from someone. For example, an attacker may pose as a customer service representative from a person’s bank and try to get them to reveal their account number or PIN.
A baiting attack is where an attacker leaves something desirable, such as a USB drive or an email attachment, in a public place to entice someone to pick it up and use it. Once the person takes the bait, the attacker has access to their computer or device.
Tailgating, also known as piggybacking, is when an unauthorised person gains access to a secured area by following someone who has proper access. For example, an attacker may wait behind an employee entering a secure building and follow them in without going through the proper security procedures.
How to Protect Your Law Firm From Social Engineering Threats
Educate Your Employees
One of the best ways to protect your law firm from social engineering threats is to educate your employees about the risks. Employees should be taught how to spot suspicious emails and requests for information, and they should know not to give out any confidential information unless they are sure it is safe to do so. In this recent chat with leading law firm MinterEllison we discuss how they are taking steps to educate their employees about cyber security and social engineering threats.
Implement Security Procedure
Another way to protect your law firm from social engineering threats is to implement security procedures that make it more difficult for attackers to obtain sensitive information. For example, you should consider implementing two-factor authentication for all of your online accounts. It will require users to enter a username and password and a second factor such as a code from a security token or a fingerprint.
Use Security Software
Using security software such as anti-malware and anti-spyware can help to protect your law firm from social engineering threats. These programs can detect and remove malicious software that may be used to collect sensitive information.
Be Cautious of Unsolicited Requests
Any unsolicited request for information, whether in an email, a phone call, or even a face-to-face conversation, should be treated with caution. If you are unsure about the validity of a request, do not hesitate to ask for additional information or verification before giving out any confidential information.
Report Suspicious Activity
If you believe that you have been the victim of a social engineering attack, or if you have any suspicion that someone is trying to collect sensitive information from your law firm, it is crucial to report the activity to your internal security teams in the first instance. You should also change any passwords that may have been compromised and take steps to secure any systems that may have been accessed.
The Future of Social Engineering and How Law Firms Can Stay Ahead of the Curve
As technology continues to evolve, so too does the landscape of social engineering. What was once considered a relatively simple crime had become a sophisticated and ever-evolving form of fraud. This is particularly true when it comes to law firms, which are increasingly targeted by scammers seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in the firms themselves and their clients.
While there is no surefire way to prevent social engineering threats completely, there are some steps that law firms can take to stay ahead of the curve. For starters, educating employees and clients about the risks posed by these scams is crucial.
Additionally, implementing strong security measures such as two-factor authentication can help to mitigate the risk of an attack. Finally, staying up-to-date on the latest trends in social engineering can help law firms quickly identify and respond to any potential threats. With the proper precautions, law firms can protect themselves from the ever-changing landscape of social engineering fraud.