As the era of COVID-19 continues, law firms are grappling with many challenges and vulnerabilities brought on by the pandemic. Faced with a massive increase in cyber-attacks in conjunction with an unprecedented shift to a fully remote work force, cybersecurity has become a major focus for law firms as they adjust to the changes. To mitigate the risks, maintain operations, and stay ahead of competition in 2021, it is critical for law firms to understand the very real security threats you face and the security measures that must be in place.
No. 1: Implement Security Awareness Training
Any law firm, regardless of its size or reputation, is at risk of a cyber-attack. The key to minimizing the risk of attack and to ensure a strong security posture is to remain active, alert and informed through increased education and training.
Security awareness training is critical for not only partners, but for all law firm staff. It only takes one employee accidentally giving away your firm’s credentials for a security breach to occur. With a remote workforce, there is a false sense of security for employees when they work in their home. Because of this, it is critical that cybersecurity is kept at the top of mind for all employees through consistent training on the cybersecurity threats. They must understand that as a law firm, big or small, you are a main target for cybercriminals and there are many methods hackers will use to try to exploit and gain access to your system.
Security awareness training improves situational awareness and teaches best practices. Phishing awareness simulations are also critical to incorporate in the security training as phishing attacks account for 80% of reported security breach incidents.
No. 2: Transition to the Cloud
Your law firm’s infrastructure provides the backbone of your practice’s operations and information management. In 2021, now is the time to transition away from server rooms located in office locations to a cloud-based infrastructure.
Many law firms have already adapted to a new normal with a remote workforce model, leading to the closure of office locations and a change to technology that allows for secure remote work. Traditional on-premises servers lack the ease and agility of cloud-based infrastructures both in capabilities and maintenance. Cloud infrastructures are designed to meet the needs of a geographically diverse workforce as it allows individuals to work efficiently, securely, and cost-effectively from anywhere.
When deployed and managed correctly, cloud infrastructures are more secure than on-premises servers, and they generate increased productivity and security. One of the key security features the cloud provides is data security. As a law firm, keeping your private client data safe is paramount to your reputation and success. Cloud technology helps ensure that client data is protected from disaster and security breaches, keeping your firm operational.
No. 3: Implement Security Layers for Remote Workers
With many law firms working remotely, secure access to all files, documents and communications is essential to remain productive and safe. Law firms operating in the new normal of remote work must take a holistic approach to cybersecurity, ensuring your people, processes, and systems are aligned to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the information you hold.
It is critical to view each employee as an access point for a hacker and to ensure they are set up remotely with multiple layers of security. These layers must include security measures like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), Email Encryption and Advanced Endpoint Protection.
Unfortunately, according to a 2020 report by the American Bar Association (ABA) many firms have not implemented these critical security layers and their data is at risk — less than 50% of respondents use Multi-Factor Authentication; only 43% use Encryption; and less than 26% use Web Filtering. These numbers are concerning and in 2021, it is critical for law firms to implement these layers of protection.
Unfortunately, many law firms think they are protected, but they do not have these critical measures in place. We routinely provide security audits for law firms and find that many are not up to date with the latest cybersecurity requirements especially when it comes to the NY SHIELD Act. Scheduling a regular security audit will provide a check to make sure your firm is protected.
While the pandemic has brought its challenges, as we continue into 2021 and into the “recovery” phase of the pandemic, there are also significant opportunities for law firms if you choose to take the opportunity to evolve and adapt. Take advantage of technology and harness the benefits of productivity, efficiency, and security that these cybersecurity options provide.