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Top 4 Cybersecurity Issues for Your Small Law Firm to Watch Out For

"That would never happen at our firm.”

“Why would they want to hack us?”

“No one on our team would ever fall for that.”

When it comes to cybersecurity, these misconceptions could put your law firm at risk!

You may think that malicious hackers have “bigger fish to fry.” In reality, the chance to breach law firm technology works up an appetite for many cybercriminals. Think about it: firms handle extremely sensitive and confidential personal information. They also may be involved in large financial transfers or the transmission of sensitive contracts, agreements, or other documents. A bad actor could take any of that and turn it into a fortune on the black market.

All it takes is one mistake… one vulnerability… one lapse in judgment for someone to breach your system. Make sure your law firm technology - as well as your policies and procedures - protect your practice against these emerging cybersecurity risks.

1. Remote Work

Simply put, remote work often leads to greater cybersecurity risks. Because an employee’s home internet equipment may not be as secure as your firm’s internet security (nor receive the same technical support from a company’s employers), there may be more vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit in a remote environment. Additionally, this isn’t just an issue for people working from home - it’s true for anyone that leaves the office and connects to the internet from a hotel, coffee shop, courthouse, or other locations with WiFi available to the public.

Law firms must ensure their employees’ company and personal devices (ever used email or messaging apps on your personal phone for work?) can maintain a secure connection when utilizing law firm technology or transmitting confidential information.

2. Security in the Cloud

It’s hard to imagine a time when we worked without access to cloud-based services. The convenience and efficiency of having documents accessible online (and having them updated in real-time!) has been a game changer for law firms. Many have likely pivoted to a cloud-based service as a part of their law firm technology strategy.

Of course, with great opportunities comes significant risks. A whole host of mistakes could open the door for a malicious hacker to gain access. These include but are not limited to:

  • the misconfiguration of settings,

  • an easy-to-find login page with weak security,

  • someone using a weak password for their account,

  • sharing a link that anyone can use to view cloud content,

  • and more.

Even worse, detecting if and when a cybercriminal gains access to cloud-based services can be difficult.

Most cloud-based services work hard to monitor and update their systems to protect their customers’ data. But even the most secure law firm technology can be made vulnerable by an employee’s poor security practices. Make sure you’re equipping your employees to adopt the best cybersecurity practices into their everyday workflow.

3. Social Engineering

When attackers engage in social engineering, they try to trick you into giving them the information they need to access your firm’s networks. Social engineering has been around long before the rise of the internet, but cybercriminals are taking the practice to a new level.

Here’s the challenge with social engineering: an employee may think they’re taking a perfectly safe action - or sometimes, even helping someone else - when they’re really allowing access to attackers. Because it looks normal, they’re more likely to act. Law firms and their employees should be on the lookout for the following social engineering techniques.

  1. Phishing (email). Simply put, the goal is to get the employee to click on a malicious link. The attacker will do this by sending an email that looks legitimate. The hacker might send a fake promotional email that leads you to a site that looks like one you use every day but is a dummy site that collects your username and password for them. They may impersonate an employee, vendor, or client and send emails to others in your firm. Watch out for URLs or sender email addresses that are only slightly different from the real thing.

  2. Smishing (text). This technique is similar to phishing but utilizes text messages or messaging apps instead. Ultimately, the reader is tricked into clicking on a link that will add malware to their device.

  3. Vishing (phone). Some attackers are pros at calling their targets, impersonating someone who needs help or is trying to provide assistance (e.g., customer service support), and convincing the target to provide access to a critical site or service. They may manipulate the target’s emotion by developing an elaborate story. Law firms of all sizes may be vulnerable to this technique.

4. Ransomware

Suppose an attacker gains access to your systems through a remote connection, cloud vulnerability, social engineering technique, or by some other means. In that case, they may engage in an extortion attack known as ransomware. Few malicious acts can bring a company’s operations to a halt like ransomware. The malicious actors lock you out of your system, encrypt your data, and don’t allow you to access it unless a ransom is paid.

The risks of a ransomware attack are significant for law firms. They may suffer financial damages and risk the release of highly confidential information; plus, the emotional toll of such an attack is palpable on all affected.

Law firms should take steps to train their employees on law firm information security best practices, have the right law firm technology in place to promote secure practices, and establish responsible and vigilant procedures to protect their practice, their users, and their clients.

Choose a Secure Document Automation Service for Your Firm

Security has been a major priority for us as we’ve developed AccessioDocs. If you are interested in taking the next step to update your law firm’s technology portfolio, and want to learn more about how to automate your document preparation process, contact AccessioDocs today. We provide custom solutions for attorneys in every area of the law. We have a cost-effective process that will help you grow your practice and make it more efficient without increasing your payroll expenses.

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