All businesses today are becoming increasingly reliant on electronic communications, and law firms are no different. In recent years, law firms especially have become more and more aware that hackers are targeting their clients' information. In fact, the American Bar Association Cybersecurity Legal Task Force noted "an alarming rise of attacks" on businesses' electronic networks over the past decade. Law office data security is more important now than it's even been before.
It's estimated that companies in the United States lose $250 billion per year because of cyber attacks. These attacks are becoming more and more sophisticated, and law firms especially are obligated to take steps to stop these attacks. For today's law firms, ensuring client data protection is not just a priority, but an absolute necessity for doing business.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to greatly increase your law firm cyber security. While no system is absolutely unbreakable, a few basic changes can help you keep your private information safe.
- Have a knowledgeable staff
The most basic step in avoiding a cyber attack at your law firm is making sure that your staff is knowledgeable. Ensure that every employee in your company knows how real of a threat this is, and train them on mistakes to avoid (like opening e-mails where you're not sure of the sender). It's important that everyone is constantly aware of this threat and understands what to do to prevent or detect it. Develop a culture of awareness first, then train about specific methods.
Many firms even have a devoted IT person or staff that gives security their daily attention. Some firms designate one of their partners to do this, while some firms hire an extra person solely for this purpose.
2. Install programs that protect against known threats
It's a very basic step, but you would be surprised how many companies do not utilize even the simplest of antivirus programs. These programs not only keep your system secure from attacks, but they keep logs and records of attempted intrusions. This information can be critical to tracking down an attempted hacker.
3. Keep systems updated
New threats are being developed all the time. Hackers are even writing their programs specifically to make it through certain digital defenses. They know how your security programs operate, and they know how to exploit their weaknesses. It's crucial to keep your software and hardware upgraded to protect against newer threats. Even from year to year, new methods of intrusion are being developed. Even simply upgrading the spam filters on your e-mail will let you keep out more unwanted or suspicious messages.
4. Run an analysis program that detects unusual behavior or activities
Most commonly known as "host intrusion protection," these programs log every time your system is accessed. If access occurs from outside a "normal" area, this program can block it as well as save the information so you can see the details. Also, these programs can detect if another malicious program has been installed – one that will feed your information outside the network. Hackers are writing programs that are able to bypass antivirus protection, so it's important to have additional software that offers even more protection and accountability.
5. Develop a response should a breach occur
Your firm should have a specific plan in place on how to react is a breach occurs. This may simply involve contacting someone else, but you need this plan to be solidified. Know who to notify if an attack occurs, as well as what steps to take to protect your data and to determine who compromised the system. Having a plan in place will minimize damage and disruption to the firm.
It's been said that no system is foolproof, but by taking these basic steps, you can ensure that your system is as close to that as possible. A breach could have an incredibly damaging impact to your reputation in the community. Your clients trust you with their most confidential details. It's time you treated those details with the respect they deserve.