Law firms deal with sensitive information day in and out. Keeping this data confidential, especially anything related to a case, means you have to worry about more than what you’re doing – you also need to think about what you’re not doing. Ignoring potential security vulnerabilities could leave your firm, its data and its reputation exposed to risk.
There are a few gaps in security that are notorious for causing the biggest headaches for law firms. Check out each of the below items to make sure you’re addressing them.
Failure to update software
If you’re using outdated software and failing to run patches, then you’re creating an opportunity for hackers. In fact, according to a study, nearly 80% of companies that had a data breach could have presented it by running patches in a timely fashion. Those updates are put into place for a reason, and the longer they go unattended, the more likely it is someone will find that vulnerability.
If you’re running cloud-based software, then you can eliminate updates from your to-do list. These are processed and applied to the entire platform, so you get the benefit of automatic updates that are constantly run.
Law firms are prone to fraud, especially given the dollar amounts dealt with, frequent transactions, and the fact that as a firm grows, the boss’ eyes are less focused on the accounts. Unfortunately, most internal fraud is committed by long-term employees, and it can be hard to see it coming. But there are always signs as well as preventative measures to put into place.
Consider making sure you train your staff to recognize the signs of fraud, that you’re regularly reviewing reconciliations and bank statements and that no one person has the authority to make all financial decisions and disbursements.
Externally, the best way you can protect your firm from fraud is training. Raise awareness among your employees about what a potential scam could look like. Law firms are a high-value target for scammers, and it’s common for email wire scams to pop up.
Always be cautious of any wire transfer requests and be sure to verify identity using phone authentication and never click on any suspicious links in emails.
Being able to work remotely has a ton of benefits: satisfied clients who know you’re working on their case whenever something needs to be done, happy employees who can get their work done without the commute and the satisfaction of knowing cases are taken care of even while on the road.
But with remote work also comes risks. Security needs to become everyone’s responsibility and that means plenty of training and guidance on best practices for remote work. Explain what security measures staff should take, including strong passwords (no generic router passwords!) and VPNs.
It can be helpful to put this all into a manual so your staff can refer to it at any point. This way you also know that everyone has received all the information they need.
Storing unencrypted data
When data is unencrypted, meaning anyone can read it at any time, you’re making life easy for a hacker. Once they’ve gained access they can see everything and anything. Encryption adds another layer of security, making it nearly impossible to read what the data says without the proper key.
Both in-transit data (email and chats) and stored (at rest) data (cloud, hard-drive, server-based) should be encrypted.
Lost or stolen devices
Even companies with the best security plans can find themselves in a panic when a cell phone or laptop goes missing. And it’s pretty likely to happen – with “the most significant and most likely risk for the average law practice is that an attorney or employee with law firm data on their laptop, tablet or smartphone leaves it at the gym or in the airport.”
Remember what we were saying about encryption? This is where it comes critical. A full-drive encrypted laptop is going to help you breathe more easily even if it winds up in the wrong hands.
You should also put location software on any devices that hold firm-related data. This can help you track down the items to limit a potential breach.
Staying ahead of issues
It’s not enough to have some security measures in place. You have to be proactive and head off any vulnerabilities before someone takes advantage of them. The difference between a panic mode situation and a controlled response is the preparedness that goes into predicting the potential scenario.