If you’re involved in a UK Law Practice, you’ll know law firms are trusted with an enormous amount of sensitive or confidential information. This makes them a popular target for hackers and cybercriminals who seek to use this data for their own ends, whether it’s stealing financial information for further schemes, revealing details of cases to the press, or to sell on customer details to others. In 2020, a cyber-attack on a business occurred every 46 seconds.
When they succeed, the impact on the law firms involved can range from embarrassment and loss of reputation to total shutdown and legal repercussions for malpractice.
As more legal workforces embrace flexible working and cyber-attacks such as phishing and ransomware rise in frequency, it’s essential to take steps in improving cyber security to protect client data. This post will lay out several ways for your firm to move towards watertight security.
Legal Guidelines and Legislation
According to the Data Protection Act 2018, UK businesses of all types and sizes should be compliant with the following UK GDPR practices to protect data:
- Processing data fairly, lawfully, and completely transparently, always obtaining consent
- Only collecting personal data for specific purposes, and not using it outside the stated purposes
- Only collecting personal data which is relevant to the stated purpose
- Keeping stored personal data updated and accurate
- Disposing of stored personal data when it is no longer needed
- Taking steps to process the data confidentially and securely
- Taking accountability for GDPR compliance as a data controller
- Paying the ICO a Data Protection fee (unless exempt)
Although it’s not a legal requirement, the UK government have also created a data assurance scheme alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, called CyberEssentials. The idea is to encourage businesses to adopt good data protection policies regarding patching, firewalls, access control and more which protect organisations from at least 80% of cyber-attacks. You can find out more and consult with us about getting certified here.
Integrating Cyber Security Awareness
It’s said that human error is the primary cause of 95% of online data breaches. With this in mind, one effective way to improve the security of your data is to provide all staff with regular training sessions that cover topics such as password security, phishing attacks, and safe web browsing when using company devices.
Giving your team a clear idea of what to look for to avoid scam emails, phone calls, or malware links can help to protect the firm and give your staff confidence in upholding security policies.
Firms should also conduct regular security audits to identify any vulnerabilities in their systems and take appropriate measures to address them, as well as limiting who has access to sensitive information as much as possible.
By investing in cyber security training and protocols, law firms can ensure that their staff is equipped to handle potential threats and safeguard their clients' confidential information.
At a minimum, it’s important for law firms to establish clear policies and procedures for remote work, such as guidelines for using personal devices and accessing company data remotely. All employees should also require multi-factor authentication to access anywhere personal information is stored.
For a truly secure remote working solution, we recommend implementing cloud-based services such as Microsoft Intune or Azure Virtual Desktop. These can variously reduce the risk of using personal devices for work, allow team members to access important documents from anywhere in the world, and can reduce your IT costs over time. They also give security managers more control over who can access what, and generally gives them more oversight of the digital environment to help them to ensure security policies are being followed.
Working with other parties
UK law firms often work with third parties, such as vendors, consultants, and outsourcing companies, to streamline their operations and provide better services to their clients. However, working with third parties can also expose law firms to various security risks.
To mitigate these risks, law firms must take several security precautions when working with third parties. Firstly, they should conduct due diligence on potential partners to ensure they have robust security measures in place. They should also clearly define the scope of work and access rights for third parties and regularly monitor their activities.
Furthermore, legal professionals should ensure that third parties comply with data protection regulations and have signed appropriate non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements.
Incident Response and Disaster Recovery
Cybersecurity incidents can occur despite the best preventative measures, and law firms must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively in such situations. Implementing appropriate cybersecurity incident response and disaster recovery practices is essential for minimising damage and restoring normal business operations.
One effective approach is to establish an incident response plan that outlines the steps to take when a cyber attack occurs, such as isolating affected systems, notifying law enforcement, and communicating with affected clients.
Regular training exercises can help ensure that staff are familiar with the plan and can act swiftly in a crisis. Legal practises should also implement a disaster recovery plan that includes backups of critical data, redundant systems, and alternative work arrangements in case of a physical disruption to the office.
Testing the plan regularly can help identify weaknesses and improve response times. By establishing appropriate incident response and disaster recovery practices, law firms can better protect their clients' data and maintain their reputation for security and reliability.
Other IT and Tech Solutions to Protect Sensitive Data
As mentioned above, comprehensive cloud backup solutions, virtual desktops, encryption, and multi-factor logins can all make a considerable difference to your business’ level of threat.
There are other IT matters which can also significantly enhance your security, which should be managed even if you don’t have a dedicated tech or IT security professional within your business. These include:
- Using appropriate malware protection software
- Regularly updating your IT systems
- Regulating who can access what within your digital environment
- Adjusting email spam filters for the newest forms of attack
- Regular patch management within 14 days of an update
- Correctly configuring firewalls and internet gateways
- Setting high security standards for any passwords used, and restricting the allowed number of attempts
- Deleting unused software or user profiles
Get more Secure with Spidergroup
Whether you’re looking for reliable outsourced IT support which meets the exact needs of your business, seeking a CyberEssentials certification, or need assistance migrating to a new cloud system such as Azure, our experts are excited to help.
We offer support, consultation, training, and issue resolution to legal businesses across the UK and are committed to reducing your risk to cyber threats.