Law Firm Cybersecurity: 3 Best Practices to Keep You Safe
Cybersecurity incidents are on the rise and unfortunately, law firms are attractive targets for cybercriminals. Part of the appeal is that digital thieves know gaining entry into a law firm’s database sometimes means accessing the sensitive payment information of multiple companies or entities in one fell swoop.
In 2020, there were more than 1,000 confirmed data breaches, resulting in the exposure of nearly 156 million sensitive records. To avoid becoming another statistic, you need to be well-versed in the most effective ways to decrease your vulnerability to a cybersecurity incident.
Here’s the thing: it isn’t just external threats law firms need to worry about.
Every employee in the office has the ability to either intentionally or accidentally compromise the security of your firm. This is why it’s so important to take a proactive approach to maintaining strong cybersecurity protections—particularly when it comes to your payment processing.
To help get you started, here are three simple things you can do.
Draft an Acceptable Use Policy
An acceptable use policy (AUP) explicitly outlines the rules employees must follow in regards to the firm’s network, software, computers, laptops, and mobile devices. It clearly states how employees should and shouldn’t use both employer-provided technology and personal mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
One of the main reasons to implement an AUP is the ability of employees to either deliberately or inadvertently compromise the security of your company. Ipswitch, a provider of IT management software, reported that nearly three-fourths of security breaches are due to employee actions (either intentional or accidental). Something as simple as connecting your firm computer to a hotel’s wifi network can lead to a major security breach.
An AUP ensures employees understand their responsibilities in regards to technology use and helps educate them on identifying possible cybersecurity threats. A comprehensive yet easy-to-read AUP can substantially decrease your firm’s risk of cyberattacks and data breaches.
Develop an Incident Response Plan
Ideally, your firm will never experience a data breach or cyberattack. Realistically, you need to be prepared for the day when it happens. That’s why an incident response plan is an essential part of any large law firm’s cybersecurity program.
The steps your firm takes immediately upon discovery of the issue will determine just how extensive (and expensive) the damage will be. An effective incident response plan includes the following steps:
- Designate an incident response planning team
- Classify the type/extent of the incident
- Complete initial reporting
- Escalate the incident, as appropriate
- Inform affected individuals and organizations
- Investigate and collect evidence
- Mitigate further risks
- Execute recovery measures
Your incident response plan (in addition to any other security policies and procedures) should be regularly evaluated and updated. With existing threats continuously evolving and new threats appearing almost daily, your firm must take a proactive approach to maintaining strong cybersecurity protections.
Adopt Cloud-Based Technology
Many (if not the majority of) law firms that favor on-premise or hosted solutions to cloud-based platforms will cite security as the reason they refuse to move their data to the cloud. But the truth is, cloud-based solutions are considerably more secure than on-premise or hosted software (and nearly 30 percent of respondents in a survey conducted by Aderant, the legal time and billing software provider, agree.)
An on-site IT team may do periodic network vulnerability checks, but they have dozens of other issues to worry about, too. Providers of cloud legal solutions have employees dedicated exclusively to ensuring their IT infrastructure is as strong and secure as possible.
Additionally, because updates to cloud solutions are deployed automatically, you’ll know the platform always has the latest patches and the provider has addressed known vulnerabilities. As an added bonus, cloud-based solutions are also generally less expensive and easier to maintain than hosted or on-premise options.
Any strategy you develop to keep your firm safe from cybersecurity dangers should center around knowledge. Knowing your requirements, your risks, and your resources makes it much easier to maintain proper security. Commit to being prepared and staying aware so that your law practice doesn’t become a cautionary tale for other firms.
The other key is to only work with technology partners you can trust. For example, LawPay’s online payment solution receives quarterly scans as well as an annual audit from a qualified security assessor. Our technology also exceeds standards for internet security and PCI Level 1 compliance, which means you can breathe easy knowing your data is guarded by advanced fraud protection and data encryption measures.
To learn more about LawPay’s commitment to data security and to see how we make it easy to securely accept payments online, visit lawpay.com/nysba.