Top 10 Cybersecurity Considerations For Law Firms
Law firms handle a lot of sensitive client information and have become prime targets for cybercriminals. In fact, 26% of law firms have experienced a data breach with consequences ranging from loss of data and billable hours to unauthorized access to sensitive information.
That’s why the American Bar Association (ABA) added a section on Information Security Policies and data security in the latest edition of the book “Law Office Policies, Procedures, and Operations Manual.”
In that chapter, Inovo InfoSec CEO Eric Rockwell and CIO Jeff Gulick shared how law firms can maximize their technology investments, standardize the use of technology, avoid costly mistakes, and secure their clients’ sensitive information and intellectual property.
The chapter is based on controls from trusted cybersecurity frameworks such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) and the Center for Internet Security (CIS) Critical Security Controls (CSC). It offers a detailed look at what law firms must consider when navigating today’s complex cybersecurity landscape.
Top 10 Cybersecurity Considerations For Law Firms
Organizations increasingly share confidential and sensitive information with their trusted attorneys electronically (e.g., through emails, messaging, unified communication platforms, etc.) Law firms must implement comprehensive and standardized information security policies and procedures to protect these electronic information assets while staying compliant with data privacy regulations. Here’s what you must consider:
1. Information Security Policy
An information security policy provides a foundation for ensuring the safety of your firm’s information assets and electronic communications systems. It should cover the use of software programs within the organization, data sharing with internal and external parties, device connections to the company’s network, the use of the firm’s electronic communication systems, access to cloud computing services, and more.
2. Social Media Policy
Social media can support business development and increase your firm’s and individual attorney’s profile. However, these platforms also pose risks as threat actors can gather information to exploit your clients. Employees must maintain the confidentiality of client information and sensitive personal information when posting on these platforms. Also, they must not share information about the firm’s internal policies, procedures, strategy, etc.
3. IT Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
You must have a well-defined process to handle events that could impact your firm’s IT operations and business resiliency. Define recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) to understand the extent of data loss and the amount of downtime that’s acceptable to your business. Then, you can implement the necessary controls to achieve these objectives.
4. Malicious Software Management
Protect your data and network with antimalware software, malware scanning tools, and review procedures. Work with a cybersecurity company to harden your IT assets to the applicable CIS benchmark. Ensure that security updates and software patches are installed promptly, and all devices are scanned weekly to minimize vulnerabilities a bad actor could exploit.
5. Employee Training and Education
Most data privacy regulations require organizations to provide employee training to ensure that everyone in your firm is fully trained on the use of all equipment and services, including hardware, software, and cloud platforms, and understand how to handle sensitive information securely. Also, appoint a dedicated resource to oversee employee training and provide timely assistance.
6. Cloud Services and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)
If your firm uses cloud or SaaS platforms as part of the infrastructure, the IT director must maintain a map of these business systems and a clear record of where the firm’s data resides. Enforce a business password management policy for accessing these accounts, implement multi-factor authentication and access control, and use providers that adhere to regulatory standards (e.g., SOC 2.)
7. Communication Systems
From email and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone systems to messaging and video conferencing, you must coordinate many moving parts to ensure seamless internal and external communication without compromising data security. Since most information is transmitted digitally, you must select reputable service providers that adhere to the appropriate compliance standards.
8. Software Programs
Software vulnerabilities can be a substantial security risk. As such, law firms must utilize name-brand and supported software platforms. Don’t use open-source, freeware, or proprietary software that is not widely supported. Also, work with a third-party vendor under a maintenance agreement to ensure that all your software programs are up-to-date.
9. Desktops, Laptops, and Mobile Devices
Provide all employees with supported hardware devices from trusted brands and implement a device management strategy. Bring your own device (BYOD) has become popular in today’s work-from-anywhere environment. If you decide to take advantage of the trend and allow employees to use their personal devices for work, enforce a BYOD policy to ensure secure access to your networks and data from within and outside the office.
10. Wireless Networks
Protect the wireless network within your office with a strong password and the proper configuration settings. Segment the guest network and implement controls to deny access to internal resources. Printer, copiers, multi-functional machines, and internet of things (IoT) devices should be on a separate network and not allowed to access the internet unless under special circumstances.
Navigating the Cybersecurity Landscape in the Legal Industry
Establishing information security requirements and implementing the right policies are critical to ensuring ongoing safety and compliance. You can learn the details of everything you must consider in the book “Law Office Policies, Procedures, and Operations Manual, Seventh Edition.”
The chapter also includes templates and examples of notices and policies to help you create customized manuals for implementing the latest IT security procedures to protect your networks and sensitive data.
The legal industry has unique cybersecurity needs and stringent compliance requirements. That’s why many law firms choose to work with experts who have extensive experience guiding organizations to achieve their compliance goals.
Here at Inovo InfoSec, we provide a full spectrum of cybersecurity solutions for law firms of all sizes to help them implement the appropriate security measures and minimize their risks.
Book a free consultation call with one of our cybersecurity experts to get started.