IT Insights

Why are law firms so vulnerable to data breaches?

Law firms operate in a sector where trust is everything, and client privacy is at the forefront of brand defense. It shouldn’t be hard to understand the fact that many customers would never do business with a law firm again if they heard it had suffered a data breach. Unfortunately, law firms are at significant risk, especially if their employees are in the habit of sending confidential information over unencrypted email connections. In fact, according to a study by PWC, almost two-thirds of law firms have suffered data breaches, and attacks are showing no signs of abating.

Law firms hold valuable information

Contrary to popular belief, hackers don’t always go after financial information like credit card details. Among the favorite targets of cybercriminals are law firms and healthcare providers due to the large amounts of sensitive data they routinely handle. Like many other companies, law firms hold data like social security numbers and financial and tax information, all of which can be used for identity theft. These stolen records fetch a small fortune on the dark web. Law firms also have access to confidential data that most other industries have no use for, which makes them high-value targets. Things like controversial data pertaining to legal cases involving private individuals and businesses can be extremely damaging in the wrong hands. As such, this sort of information might be stolen for the purposes of digital sabotage or even holding a victim to ransom. Consider confidential information like trade secrets, litigation details, and criminal records and how damaging they can be in the wrong hands.

Failing to meet modern security standards

The legal sector has long been considered stuffy and conservative. What’s more, it’s slow to innovate, which opens up ample opportunities for more modern startups in the space and leaves law firms open to catastrophic data breaches. When it comes to law firms and the trove of sensitive data they hold, the financial and reputational costs of a single data breach are often enough to see the business closing its doors for good. Despite these risks, less than half of all the law firms surveyed by the American Bar Association in 2017 had adequate security policies in place to guard against things like ransomware attacks and data theft.

What today’s law firms must do

If you’re not confident about the cybersecurity tools used by your practice, then it’s time to start thinking seriously about how prepared you are for a data breach. It’s just a matter of time before you are targeted, so you need to proactively protect your organization and ensure it’s ready to mitigate the risks of a cyberattack. Furthermore, meeting modern security standards is also a matter of complying with today’s security regulations. After all, a law firm that fails to live up to its legal expectations is hardly doing its public relations any good. To prevent and mitigate data breaches, law firms need to take a team-driven approach to cybersecurity and implement multiple layers of protection. Device-specific solutions like antivirus software aren’t enough by themselves — you also need strict policies to control the use of cloud-hosted resources like email and remote access to data using employee- and business-owned devices. Needless to say, you’ll also need full end-to-end encryption for all communications as well as a way to monitor systems for potential policy violations. Finally, remember that employees are the weakest link in your network security, so you’ll also need to provide regular security training. If your firm currently adopts the old-school philosophy that cybersecurity is something that only the IT department needs to worry about, then it’s time for rapid change before it’s too late. Sabio Information Technologies offers professional IT support and solutions for law firms in and around Miami. Contact us today to schedule your first consultation.

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