What are the Main Cyber Security Risks Facing Law Firms?
Law firms handle some of the most confidential and sensitive client information. So what cyber security risks is this information vulnerable to?
The steps the legal profession has taken to embrace technology thus far have been small but significant. As law firms embrace technology, they must in parallel address the cyber security risks they may face. This article discusses what the main cyber security risks currently facing law firms are.
Leaks of Sensitive Data
It is no secret that law firms possess some of the most confidential and sensitive client information. When handling data of this nature, it is important to ensure the appropriate security measures are in place. Although some lawyers use cloud storage services such as Dropbox, the majority of the legal profession communicates using email. Email communications are vulnerable to scams such as phishing.
Phishing is the process of fraudulent emails being sent to internet users with the aim of obtaining sensitive information. An example of a phishing scam involving a law firm includes emails being sent by hackers under the client’s disguise. If employees click on attachments/links in this email, they will be redirected to a malicious site demanding sensitive information. To prevent this from happening, it is important to educate staff members about distinguishing between a legitimate and fraudulent email. We have previously discussed the uses of artificial intelligence in the legal industry. Another use for this technology is to scan through emails and detect any potential threats. An IT Lawyer will be able to advise you further about how to protect your firm from common cyber security email threats.
DLA Piper’s Encounter with a Cyber Attack
In 2017, law firm DLA Piper shut down digital operations due to a malware on their system. This attack came shortly after the firm set up a 24/7 Rapid Response line to assist clients in the event of a cyber attack. They had also published an article titled ‘9 things you should know to protect your company from the next attack’ which states the measures that need to be taken. This example demonstrates that it is important to not only have the appropriate frameworks in place, but that staff members must also be aware of the possible cyber security risks they may face.
Breach of Ethical Obligations
The DLA Piper incident did not leak client information, but what happens if firms cannot stop data breaches on time? Not having the necessary protections in place equates to not handling customer information properly. Lawyers must abide by their ethical obligations not only to follow the rules of the profession, but also to foster trust with their clients. A good place to start in implementing good security measures can be found here.
While the possibility of cyber attacks are real, it is no reason to restrict technology in your law firm. With appropriate protections in place as well as education programs for employees, your firm can also become a secure, technology-friendly environment.
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Kayal is a Legal Tech Intern at Lawpath as part of the content team. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws with a Bachelor of Science (major in Cyber Security) at Macquarie University.