Law firms have been slow to implement robust cybersecurity measures and law firm software. For some, they do not believe they are big enough to be a target. Others consider their data well-protected. What many firms do not realize is the increase in the number of cyberattacks over the last 12 months and the sophistication of those attacks.
In early 2020, the law firm of Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks became the victim of a ransomware attack. The cybercrime group first asked for $21 million to unlock the files. When the law firm failed to comply, they released stolen information on clients such as Lady Gaga and raised the ransom to $42 million. The damage to the firm’s reputation was irreversible, whether or not they paid the ransom.
According to its 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report, the American Bar Association found that:
- 29% of respondents experienced a security breach
- 36% fell victim to a malware attack
Yet, less than 50% had implemented additional security measures such as multi-factor authentication, file encryption, or intrusion protection.
Most law firms use third-party software. As the SolarWinds breach demonstrated, businesses should know how secure third-party solutions are if they want to avoid costly breaches or malware attacks. Solar Winds’ customers, including the U.S. Government and Fortune 500 companies, downloaded an update that allowed hackers access to customers’ systems. This access went undetected for months, and the extent of damage has yet to be determined. If you’re looking for law firm software, here is a list of security features to keep in mind.
For many applications, security measures are added at the end of development. Yet, security can be designed into the application before a line of code is written. For example, is access restricted by default? Users can be given complete access or no access until their permissions are set by an administrator. With no access, firms don’t need to worry that a new user will gain access to enterprise-wide information.
Cloud-based applications are perfect for distributed workers who need access from anywhere at any time. However, that means using a cloud provider for hosting the application. Providers can be public or private. Amazon has the largest market share of public cloud providers with its Amazon Web Services (AWS) framework. Using a safe and reliable provider makes the support of a remote workforce more secure.
Firewalls are a critical appliance for protecting applications and data. Without them, bad actors would have unrestricted access. But firewalls must be properly configured to protect the digital assets they are to protect. Be sure the providers of law firm software are using recognized firewalls such as Cisco or SonicWall. They are the first line of defense.
Cybercriminals continuously search the internet for vulnerabilities. They try to access networks, looking for a way in. Often, hackers try multiple times before giving up. Intrusion detection solutions monitor attempts to ensure no one accesses an application. Monitoring enables companies to identify potential threats and increase security, if necessary, to prevent unauthorized access.
Software companies provide updates to fix problems, add features, and correct security vulnerabilities. Security updates should be applied immediately to ensure maximum protection. Unfortunately, cybercriminals do not rest. They are always developing new ways to steal data and breach systems. The latest group uses REvil ransomware to extort payment as in the Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks attack. The group behind the REvil attacks often auctions off the data even after a victim has paid the ransom.
Backing up data is one way to minimize the impact of ransomware attacks. If data is backed up frequently, a copy of existing data is always available. Making sure that information is backed up on a schedule and then stored in secure locations is one way to safeguard critical digital assets. It’s crucial that data backups are held in remote locations as more sophisticated attacks compromise backups if they are stored on the network.
Cyberattacks are not the only reason to back up data. Catastrophic events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or blizzards can prevent access to needed data. With proper backups stored in secure locations, data can be restored quickly so that work can continue regardless of external events.
Data needs to be protected while in-transit as well as at-rest. When data is sent to and from an application, it should be encrypted. Making the data unreadable minimizes the likelihood that hackers will try to steal the information. Companies should encrypt data with 256-bit encryption to ensure the safe transport of company data.
Protecting Your Clients
Current research found that cyberattacks escalate once cybercriminals identify a vulnerable industry until proper security measures are put in place. Professional services such as law or accounting firms are one of those vulnerable industries. Although professional services make up 14% of U.S. businesses, they make up 25% of cyberattacks. Why? These firms tend to ignore the possibility of a cyberattack.
Law firms have left themselves open to attack through remote access points with the move to remote working. In a distributed network, each access point is a vulnerability. Because many of those points are now located in employees’ homes, the attack surface for hackers increases with little company-wide controls.
In today’s environment, there is no such thing as “too small.” As cybercriminals scour the web for weak security measures, it is only a matter of time before a firm will experience an attempt. The latest projections are that a cyberattack attempt will occur every 11 seconds in 2021, costing an average of $190,000 every second.
If you’re looking for law firm software to help with time management, billing, and expense tracking, LawBillity offers a secure solution. You do not have to worry about the possibility of a security breach with its dedication to secure storage and operations. Start a secure 14-day trial to help you track and bill quickly without sacrificing the security needed to protect your most valuable assets and client confidentiality.