October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaborative effort between The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) to raise global awareness about cybersecurity.
Why is this important to law firms, though?
According to the American Bar Association (ABA)’s 2021 Legal Technology Survey Report, 25% of respondents reported a law firm breach at some point. With the vast amount of sensitive, valuable information involved in the day-to-day tasks of legal work, it’s no surprise that law firms, and their legal technology, are a common target for hackers.
To keep your firm and clients protected from cyberattacks, it’s important that you implement strong company-wide cybersecurity practices. Read on to learn more about the importance of secure technology for law firms.
Unsecure technology risks for law firms
Cybersecurity attacks can result in compromised communications, loss of access to essential information, data leaks, loss of trust in your law firm, and even malpractice claims.
These attacks don’t just impact your law firm, though. They also put your clients at risk. As a lawyer, you have ethical and legal obligations to protect your clients’ information. As stated in ABA Rule 1.6: Confidentiality of Information, “a lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.”
Additionally, three ABA formal opinions you should be familiar with include:
- ABA Formal Opinion 477R: Securing Communication of Protected Client Information
- ABA Formal Opinion 483: Lawyers’ Obligations After an Electronic Data Breach or Cyberattack
- ABA Formal Opinion 498: Virtual Practice
Even in the event of a cyberattack, you as a lawyer can be held responsible for any privacy breach that affects your clients.
Five ways to secure your law firm’s technology
To protect your law firm from cyber-attacks, it’s important to stay up-to-date with technology best practices and implement company-wide cybersecurity policies. The five tips below are a great place to start.
1. Be cautious with emails
Emails are common targets for phishing scams. Some common traits of phishing include:
- Offers or statements that are too good to be true
- Odd requests with a sense of urgency
- Attachments that are unexpected or don’t seem to make sense
If you receive an out-of-character email from a colleague or client, check the email address to see if it’s legitimate. If you’re unsure about a link, hover over the link to see where it goes, and if it’s a popular site, be sure to check that everything is spelled correctly. If you find an email to be suspicious, it never hurts to get a second opinion or confirm with the sender through another form of communication.
2. Browse safely
Whether it’s a pop-up, fake site, or questionable link, one wrong click can harm your device in a matter of seconds. When you’re working online, there are a few steps you can take to avoid compromising your data or device.
For example, make sure you’re using Google Chrome as your default browser to access your preferred legal journal. This will allow you to add privacy extensions to block activity such as spying ads and hidden trackers.
It’s especially important to browse safely when you’re working remotely. If you’re away from your secure workplace network, use a virtual private network (VPN) to hide your IP address and keep your browsing activity from being tracked. This is crucial when accessing legal documents or transmitting client information.
3. Use secure passwords
How many online accounts do you log in to on a regular basis? Ideally, each of these accounts should have its own unique password. If your accounts share the same password, keep in mind that one compromised account likely means multiple compromised accounts.
In addition to having strong, unique passwords, you should also change them on a regular basis to keep them hack-proof. It’s also a good idea to enable two-factor authentication, which adds an additional layer of security to your accounts.
If you’re concerned about being locked out of your own accounts, consider implementing a password management tool such as 1Password or LastPass to keep your passwords safe, secure, and all in one place.
You’ll also want to train everyone at your law firm, from paralegals to partners, on how to create secure passwords and remind them of the dangers of sharing or reusing passwords.
4. Prepare an incident response plan
According to the ABA’s 2021 Legal Technology Survey, only 36% of respondents said their firm has an incident response plan (IRP). While implementing an IRP can be an expensive and time-consuming process, the aftermath of a cyberattack or data breach can be far more costly.
Your IRP should include provisions for cybersecurity issues and natural disasters alike.
5. Use secure practice management technology
With remote work on the rise, now is a good time to invest in practice management software that keeps your law firm up-to-date, efficient, and secure.
Secure file-sharing software eliminates the need for sharing sensitive information through emails, flash drives, and paper documents. Not only does this allow you to access your files from anywhere, but it also helps to protect your clients’ confidentiality and keep your firm compliant.
Keep your law firm secure with Tabs3
Our reliable, easy-to-use practice management software is designed to help law firms boost productivity, stay organized, and maintain client confidentiality. With secure file-sharing and e-signature features, clients can rest assured that their data is protected.
For added security, try the Platinum edition, which includes:
- Tabs3 Connect, which allows for more efficient remote work
- HotBackup, which backs up your data on an ongoing basis
- Auto-Recovery, which protects your data from power outages, lost network connections, and data corruption