Cybersecurity is a growing concern in the business community. Cybercriminals do not discriminate against businesses or individuals but target any vulnerability they come across. To understand why law firms need cybersecurity, there is a need to identify some of the cybersecurity threats and how they can affect an organization. This article will also explore some of the ways law firms can address security threats.
Types of cyber threats
Cyber threats come in different forms. To defend yourself against these threats, you need to familiarize yourself with the different types of attacks. The common forms of cyber threats are phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, and website vulnerabilities.
Phishing attacks come in the form of emails. When you receive suspicious emails, the sender aims to obtain your sensitive information. Spear phishing is an advanced phishing attack that targets specific people or organizations. Most spear phishing campaigns are run by people or organizations you know. According to a study by Symantec, spear-phishing campaigns increased by 55% in 2015.
Ransomware is another common cyber threat that increased by 35% in 2015. This attack targets smartphones and Mac PCs. The hacker encrypts devices until they receive a ransom payment. Ransomware is executed through unsolicited emails and malicious links.
Hackers also exploit website vulnerabilities. According to a study by Symantec, in 2015, there were more than one million web attacks. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in websites to attack users. A high percentage of legitimate websites have vulnerabilities that hackers use to execute attacks.
The consequences of a security breach
Big law firms deal with huge amounts of client data. These firms are entrusted by their clients to secure confidential data. The privacy of the lawyer-client relationship is the basis of any legal profession. However, when there is a data breach and sensitive information is leaked to the public, the legal firm involved will have a difficult time regaining the trust and confidence of the public.
How to address security threats?
There are several steps that law firms can take to address cybersecurity threats.
1. Identify the risk
First, an organization should understand the potential cybersecurity risks. This will help the organization determine what controls and policies will be used to mitigate these risks. Additionally, all employees should know which person or department is involved with cybercrime defense and the processes or controls that have been set. Furthermore, employees should know how to act in case of a security threat.
A part of addressing security risks is taking ownership. According to a report by SRA, 75% of firms depended on commercial IT specialists to address security threats. While law firms can contract security service providers to manage their cybersecurity concerns, they should also take ownership of security risks. The SRA report further stated that legal firms were ill-advised by these third-party security providers, leaving them vulnerable to fraudsters. It is essential for law firms to manage and define security risks. This is because no one knows your business better than you.
3. Security awareness culture
One of the best ways of preventing and mitigating cybercrime is creating awareness in your law firm. You should have a knowledgeable and empowered workforce. Your company should also have a culture that insists on cyber hygiene. It is crucial to have effective cybersecurity policies and controls. For example, you can implement rules that expose compliance-related risks with automated alerts. This enables you to catch risks in time and receive real-time updates.
Bear in mind that cybercriminals execute their attacks by tricking their targets into making mistakes. However, if your employees receive the necessary training to identify scams like phishing emails, your firm will be able to minimize their vulnerability to cyber risks.
4. Understand your role In securing data
As a business, you are responsible for securing your client’s data. This is the reason the EU requires firms that deal with customer data to comply with GDPR guidelines. Therefore, law firms should understand their role in protecting customer data. For a clear understanding of your responsibilities under GDPR, you should review the checklist produced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
5. Be prepared
The legal industry is an attractive target to cybercriminals. Preparing for security breaches is essential. An excellent way to prepare for attacks is by acquiring a certificate in Cyber Essentials (CE). This certification protects law firms from common cyber threats. This scheme highlights basic controls that organizations can use to secure themselves against security breaches. CE also provides direction on developing policies and procedures that prevent and combat threats that affect your business’s operations.