Just like other small businesses in differing industries, law firms are prime targets for cyberattacks. In fact, in recent years, many law firms have fallen victim to cyberattacks as well as other breaches in cybersecurity.
Why would hackers want to target law firms?
There are two main reasons why cybercriminals target law firms. First, law firms handle their clients’ privileged information, which could fetch high prices in the black market or be used for illicit gain. Examples of valuable info include trade secrets, such as proprietary chemical formulas for medicines, or business strategies that may significantly boost stock prices.
Second, law firms tend to be vulnerable to cyberattacks because they don’t prioritize cybersecurity. They dedicate their resources toward serving their clients rather than updating and upgrading their IT systems.
Did you know?
Twenty-five percent of the respondents to the American Bar Association’s (ABA) 2021 Legal Technology Survey have been the victim of a data breach.
How are law firms usually attacked?
Similar to many other types of businesses, law firms are commonly attacked via the following ways:
- Phishing – Posing as a client,person of authority, or trusted company, a cyberattacker sends an email to fool the recipient into sending them sensitive information.
- Ransomware – This is a type of malware that encrypts a target’s data in exchange for a ransom.
- Supply chain attack – Law firms normally rely on third-party service providers for software and data storage. Hackers attack vulnerable providers in the hopes of stealing a law firms’ data.
How do data breaches affect law firms?
Data breaches are cybersecurity incidents in which sensitive, protected, or confidential information is exposed to an unauthorized party or parties. These incidents are detrimental to law firms in the following ways:
- Loss of productivity – When data is stolen or locked away from authorized users, those users can’t fulfill their tasks. This results in reduced billable hours and overall income for the firm.
- Increased risk of getting sued – Clients may sue law firms for breaking attorney-client privilege, or for neglecting to put in place security measures to protect clients’ sensitive data.
- Reputational damage – A law firm may lose clients and have difficulty gaining new ones if it is deemed incapable of keeping clients’ data safe and secure.
- Financial burdens – A law firm may incur the following costs as a result of a data breach:
- PR costs – The firm will have to prevent reputational damage by releasing notification emails and press releases saying it is doing everything it can to resolve the issues caused by the data breach.
- Legal costs – The firm must prepare to be sued by its clients. It must also be ready to perform audits and pay fines sanctioned by regulatory bodies.
- Cost of data recovery – IT personnel and/or third-party data recovery specialists must work double-time to get back lost data or replace it with backups.
Data breaches are cybersecurity incidents in which sensitive, protected, or confidential information is exposed to an unauthorized party or parties.
What must law firms do to improve their cybersecurity posture?
The ABA strongly recommends that law firms develop and implement information security programs. Such a program must lay out cybersecurity policies and procedures, increase the cybersecurity awareness and skills of everyone in the organization, and enhance the firm’s IT infrastructure to mitigate cyberthreats.
The ABA also recommends that firms install an officer or a team of IT experts that would be responsible for data security. But if your firm has difficulty following these recommendations, don’t fret — turn to Healthy IT for all your cybersecurity needs. Leave us a message to learn more about what we can do for your organization today.