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Top 6 Cybersecurity Threats for Law Firms

With the sensitive data stored and communicated at law firms, it’s no wonder they’re often the target of cybersecurity threats.

cyber security threats for law firms. Header

In the 2017 ABA Legal Technology Survey, it was released that 22% of law firms were hacked or experienced data breaches in 2017. This number was highest for small law firms with 10-49 lawyers, of which 35% experienced attacks, and medium-sized firms with 50-99 lawyers, of which 33% experienced hacks.


While not all of these attacks resulted in the misuse of client information, they pose a significant threat in unauthorized access to sensitive client data.


Most Common Cybersecurity Threats for Law Firms


Cybersecurity threats to law firms come in both direct and indirect attacks. While many of these can be prevented through network security software and internal safe-practice systems, many law firms have either outdated or unmanaged cyber security practices that leave them at increased risk.


Below are some of the most common cybersecurity threats experienced by law firms.


1 – Phishing Scams

cyber security threatens email in law firms.

Phishing scams continue to be prominent in the legal industry due to the amount of sensitive information passed through digital sources. For instance, a scammer may use a false email or spoof the email of a client, colleague, or another authority figure to direct a user to a phishing site impersonating a login, request sensitive information via email, impersonate an e-sign document, or any other creative means of manipulating the receiver to gain sensitive information.


The most important way a law firm can protect themselves and their information about this kind of attack is by using secure passwords, not reusing passwords on multiple platforms, and utilizing double-authentication. If you suspect you’ve been a victim of a phishing scam, it’s important for your network security provider to take action right away to prevent a data breach.


2 – Hacked Email Accounts


Email scams are trending toward more targeted, manipulative approaches that are personalized to end users. The law industry is especially susceptible to this type of attack due to the nature of client-attorney relationships and the transfer of sensitive information and/or payments.


A scammer may hack into an email account and sit in wait, watching and gleaning information about particular relationships before using that information to target specific contacts. They may use this information to request “retainers” from clients, request sensitive information, or otherwise risk the safety and privacy of your clients.


3 – Ransomware


While ransomware is becoming slightly less common in lieu of more modern and cloaked attacks such as cryptocurrency mining, ransomware still continues to be a cybersecurity threat, especially for companies such as law firms that host sensitive client information.


Ransomware comes in many shapes and sizes, but the general idea is that it is installed on your device—often by unintentionally clicking a malicious link or downloading an infected file—then uses scare tactics, threats, or holds your systems/files hostage until payment is received.


4 – Data Breach

cyber security threatens data for law firms.

Because law firms store and send sensitive data, they are at a higher-than-average risk for data leaks. They may be specifically targeted through malware, phishing attacks, hacks, or email spoofing to acquire sensitive client data or financial information.


Preventing data leaks takes a combination of user security policies and security tools. In the case of law firms, it’s prudent to also have network security components including access control, antivirus and antimalware, communication security, intrusion prevention systems (IPS), and security information and event management (SIEM), to prevent data breaches and to handle breaches swiftly if they do occur.


5 – Malpractice Allegations


A law firm knows more than anyone the importance of crossing your t’s and dotting your I’s when it comes to protecting yourself from lawsuits. Because of the volatility in the cybersecurity landscape, taking precautions against data leaks or breaches is more important than ever. Class-action lawsuits and individual disputes have occurred when disgruntled clients feel like their data wasn’t treated securely.


6 – Increased Standards by Clients


With increasing cybersecurity breakdowns in the news, clients are becoming more and more sensitive to the protection of their information. Because of the confidential nature of much of the information stored and shared in law firms, this means many clients are on especially high alert regarding cybersecurity standards and practices.


Final Thoughts


Cybersecurity is not a one-and-done process, especially for law firms that store and communicate sensitive data. It requires adapting internal systems and securities to protect against the current cybersecurity landscape, and vigilant practices to detect and recover from breaches as quickly as possible.


Is your law firm protected against cybersecurity attacks? Schedule a free network security audit today and the Network Coverage team of security experts will analyze your existing systems, potential threats, and any existing network security systems you may have in place.


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