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Understanding top cybersecurity threats and how best to protect your firm

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When it comes to understanding security risks, law firms make tempting targets for hackers because they handle so much confidential data. And in many traditional firms, tech-savviness isn’t always a skill that is most prioritized.

But to fully protect clients and the firms they represent, everyone in the firm should be well-informed on what the potential cybersecurity risks are and what to do when faced with each.

Here are the top five cybersecurity threats to law firms to look out for, and how to defend against each.

Ransomware

What?

This is malicious software that hackers hope you will upload to your computer via an email attachment or other method. They then have complete access to all your sensitive data and will hold it hostage until you pay an exorbitant fee.

Many firms have fallen victim to this threat and even been shut down for months while figuring out how to navigate both compliance issues and protect their firm’s integrity for the future.

How to protect against it

Carefully scrutinize every email and every link and attachment within to check for anything that may not be what it claims. Verify that the sender is one that you trust (and look closely at that sender name!) and, if you are not expecting anything or are at all unsure of what they are sending or why, reach out to ask for more details about the file or link. You might also set up a service to scan all your emails for suspicious links or risky files.

Weak passwords

What?

Passwords are the primary identifier for you and your team when accessing data or logging in to key programs. And the strength of that password is directly correlated to how protected that information is. Easy-to-guess passwords or those that don’t contain numbers or symbols are too simple for hackers to break through.

How to protect against it

Some firms employ a password manager to keep their passwords unique and secure. Others have their IT department require regular password updates to avoid repeating passwords that may have been exposed by hackers on separate websites and databases.

Outdated technology

What?

Due to the ever-changing nature of technology, security threats are also changing to adapt to new opportunities the pose threats. So technology companies take pains to update software to fix known issues that could represent security risks.

How to protect against it

Choose technology tools that have robust standards for security and prioritize regular updates to address any risks. are up to date as it relates to important components like end-to-end encryption and secure cloud-based storage.

Remote work security issues

What?

The recent shift toward remote work in the legal industry has caused an increase in security challenges for law firms, especially those who had no policy for securing data and information for remote working situations.

How to protect against it

Never use an unsecured internet connection. Coffee shop wifi is one of the main ways that hackers gain access to data when professionals are working remotely. Implement a specific device policy to guide how employees should and should not use their phones, tablets, and computers when conducting any work for the firm.

Hacktivism

What?

Hacktivism refers to threats that stem from those who target your firm based on a personal issue with a client you serve or with the firm itself. This is a broad term for a potential motivation behind any of the above security attacks. Some firms, depending on the area of practice and the types of cases they typically engage with, are more vulnerable than others to these types of attacks.

Hackers in this category might target the firms representing famous celebrities to expose private information and demand money on an ongoing basis to prevent the release of their sensitive data, such as photos, phone numbers, and addresses.

How to protect against it

Being aware of your firm’s level of risk is the best way to defend against this type of attack. With that information in mind, you can emphasize the importance of all the other defenses across the team.

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These are just a few of the biggest cybersecurity risks to your firm and some ways to begin setting up your firm for success in defending against them. Work with an experienced technology consultant or talk with your IT team to understand more about the very real cybersecurity risks that are out there and how to support your firm in protecting your clients’ data.

Zoe Burris

Zoe Burris

Zoe is InfoTrack's Content Marketing Manager.