A guide to data security for law firms

Law firms have increasingly become targets of interest for cybercriminals because of the sensitive data they possess. The damage that a data breach can do to a law firm is the reason why cybersecurity in this industry should not be taken lightly. There is a lot at stake from leaking litigation strategies to client data when a law firm is breached. Therefore, it is essential for law firms to mitigate cyber threats. Here are some strategies that you can practice to keep your legal practice safe in this digital world.

1. Locking down your networks and databases

As a rule of thumb, IT systems in a law firm should have minimal access permissions. To reduce the potential of data breaches, each employee should only be able to access the required information for their work. Giving everyone access to critical security systems makes it difficult to determine the source of a breach. Minimum access ensures maximum security through all networks. It also allows every employee to be accountable for a breach that is associated with their systems.

2. Plan for the worst

It is crucial to have a response plan in case you experience a cyber-attack. In this plan, you should define the roles and responsibilities of different staff members. Your plan should cover how to identify incidents and what should be done. It should also involve how people should communicate about the threat.

A risk management plan also allows the IT department to track risks. The IT security staff is better able to monitor the performance of systems and spot suspicious activities. Consider setting a watch list that provides automatic monitoring and security alerts. 

3. Back up information

Ransomware is a popular cyber-attack where hackers prevent your access to crucial information. The hacker will require you to pay a ransom fee to gain access to your data. The cybercriminal will threaten to expose or destroy your information if you fail to pay the ransom. The best way to guard against such attacks is to back up your data. Backup services can help you resist ransomware attacks.

4. Use VPN systems

Nowadays, many industries have adopted the policy of working remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Law firms have not been left behind and are slowly adopting this norm. Law firms should invest in virtual private network systems that encrypt the firm’s network while barristers are working remotely.

5. Be careful with passwords

Law firms should be careful with passwords. You should take time to train your employees on the best password practices. For example, passwords that are easy to guess should be avoided. Passwords consisting of numbers ‘1234,’ dates of birth, or other easy to crack information should be avoided. Another thing that experts discourage is reusing the same password for multiple applications. A single vulnerable website that allows a hacker to crack your password can lead to a data breach that affects multiple accounts.

The best password practice is to use strong passphrases. The main features of strong passphrases are that they contain upper and lowercase letters, contain 12 or more numbers, letters, or symbols, and have punctuation symbols and digits. These passphrases are not based on personal information like the names of pets, family members, or important dates.

6. Educate your employees and clients

The first line of defense against cyber threats is education. A highly trained staff is less vulnerable and minimizes the effects of a data breach. You should invest in training your staff not to browse on insecure networks, open suspicious emails or attachments, and how to use strong passwords for their systems.

Additionally, employees should be required to report any suspicious activities to the IT department. They should also know how to respond in case of a data breach. All the firm members should learn response policies and strategies to limit the extent of damage caused by a cyber threat.

The firm’s clients should also be educated. For security reasons, the clients should be trained on whom they should contact, the methods of communication allowed, and the steps they should take to preserve confidentiality. They should also be trained on how to report if anything goes against the agreed-upon process.

In conclusion

The best way to guard against cybersecurity threats is through prevention. It is crucial to determine the potential risks your law firm will likely encounter before devising ways of averting these risks. Data security in your law firm should be a concerted effort that involves not only top management and the IT department, but also all employees and other third-party stakeholders.

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay.