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Why your law firm needs to be aware of cybersecurity risks — and what you can do to protect against them

Why your law firm needs to be aware of cybersecurity risks — and what you can do to protect against them

Law firms often take cybersecurity for granted and put it on the back burner. However, without proper cybersecurity measures in place, your practice is susceptible to external and internal threats that could lead to significant financial losses and reputational damage.

Here are several reasons your law firm should put cybersecurity on top of your priority list.

The risks are high

Cyberthreats are real and law firms are particularly vulnerable to them. This is because practices often have a vast amount of confidential documents related to both client cases and their profession, making them lucrative targets to cybercriminals.

Those in the legal profession may also be unaware of threats that exist in the digital space or harbor a false sense of security surrounding existing systems and networks. Some firms simply don’t allocate resources where there is no immediate return on investment. All of these deficiencies in security make them especially easy to attack.

Attorneys are obliged to protect client data

Lawyers have a legal and ethical obligation to safeguard data. In fact, the American Bar Association stipulates some necessary guidance for protecting client information, including rules regarding competence, communication, confidentiality of information, and supervision.

According to these rules, attorneys have a duty of care when using technology. They must take reasonable measures to secure any personally identifiable data that pertains to clients, such as health and financial records. If necessary, attorneys must communicate with clients about how their sensitive information is managed. They should also supervise subordinate attorneys or third-party service providers to ensure that the aforementioned rules are fulfilled.

Various cybersecurity standards apply to law firms

An increasing number of law firms are turning to cybersecurity standards and frameworks defined by the International Organization for Standardization, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Center for Internet Security. These standards and frameworks give legal teams a comprehensive understanding of how they can build efficient cybersecurity programs. While some organizations use these cybersecurity standards solely as reference points, others have gone even further to obtain official certification to demonstrate their dedication to data safety.

How can your practice implement a solid cybersecurity strategy?

As cybercrime continues to evolve, law firms must remain vigilant in ensuring that their data is safe. Take the following steps to protect your firm against sophisticated cyberattacks.

Implement robust cybersecurity measures

Enable multifactor authentication, set up strong passwords, encrypt sensitive files, perform regular security audits, and install firewalls and antivirus software on all devices in the network. Also, don’t forget to restrict user access privileges to sensitive information as much as possible. Permitting staff to access only the documents they need can reduce the chances of unintended or malicious disclosure.

Additionally, you should set up a disaster recovery plan in case of emergencies. If a data breach ever occurs, up-to-date backups allow you to recover data and resume operations quickly.

Read also: The importance of identity and access management in protecting your business

Establish comprehensive cybersecurity policies and procedures

Create detailed written policies outlining cybersecurity best practices and what is expected of employees when communicating electronically with clients. More precisely, you need to outline password management guidelines and data encryption practices, and detail who has access rights depending on the level of sensitivity associated with certain data sets. This ensures that everyone understands how important it is for the firm’s data to remain secure at all times.

Train employees on cybersecurity

Cybersecurity training is essential for all legal professionals because it provides them with the knowledge necessary to detect on how to detect potential threats and respond appropriately when a breach occurs. When your workforce follows cyber hygiene best practices and knows how to recognize common cyberattacks, your firm strengthens its defenses against malicious actors and minimizes the risk of confidential data being accessed illegally.

Partner with cybersecurity experts

Cybersecurity experts such as managed IT services providers (MSPs) can provide professional insight into how best to secure a law firm’s networks. They can also implement services such as risk assessment, 24/7 remote monitoring, and patch management, which are critical in creating a strong security posture and mitigating threats. On top of these, MSPs often offer customizable services, giving law firms greater flexibility to pay only for what they need to stay protected in an ever-changing digital landscape.

PredictiveIT is one of the most trusted MSPs in Tampa. We can help you stay ahead of potential threats or vulnerabilities and be prepared for whatever comes your way. Contact us today.