5 Tips for Protecting Sensitive Data at the Law Firm
Recent highly publicized cyber attacks at large law firms such as Mossack Fonseca, Cravath, and Weil Gotschal have made apparent the widespread shortcomings in security safeguards in the legal industry. Here are 5 tips on how law firms can address these concerns and protect sensitive data.
Many law firms – and cyber attack victims in general – are hacked without detection, sometimes even for months or years, allowing for sensitive data to be continuously leaked over an extended period of time. Within just the past couple of weeks, nearly 50 law firms were targeted by Russian hackers, with the Panama Papers leak resulting in a global butterfly effect. According to a survey conducted by the American Bar Association, about one in four law firms with at least 100 attorneys have experienced a data breach. The prevalence and recency of breaches emphasize the imperative need for heightened security measures in the legal industry. Firms that fall behind will likely see a loss of business as client expectations rise and attackers become bolder and more persistent in their efforts targeting law firms. So how can you protect your clients and yourself from these devastating data breaches?
1. Identify Where Sensitive Data Is At Risk
Your first step should be to evaluate your firm’s digital environment. Where does your confidential data lie and how can employees access that data? Discovering what and where risk exists in your systems will help determine how you should approach your data protection.
2. Go Beyond Network Security
Focusing on perimeter-based network security models does not protect against today’s threats (link). Though easier to implement, traditional network security is not a thorough solution and has several pitfalls: it fails to identify trusted interfaces; its “trust but verify” method doesn’t actually work; malicious insiders can be in positions of trust; and trust doesn’t apply to packets.
3. Utilize Data Loss Prevention Solutions
Because there will be inevitable holes in your network, data loss prevention (DLP) tools are a necessity and can provide additional protection in the event that sensitive data leaves the network. Armed with a security solution that travels with your data, your firm’s risk for a major data breach is reduced.
4. Consider A DLP Managed Security Provider
A DLP Managed Security Provider can take the burden of implementing and constantly monitoring your firm’s security efforts off your shoulders, freeing up manpower so that you can focus more on your own clients.
5. Empower Employees Through Positive Social Engineering
Beyond having the proper security tools in place, it’s important that your employees have effective and ongoing security training. Traditional approaches are stale and hard to retain. Instead, empower your employees through positive social engineering. Incorporating gamification throughout regular workday tasks can improve employee self-awareness of data use policy violations. For example, real-time dialogue box prompts can help employees self-correct potential data loss incidents.
The security landscape of the legal industry is becoming increasingly more complex as technology continues to evolve and attackers find new ways to access your data. To read more about how you can further protect your law firm from data breaches, check out our executive brief: 5 Steps to Securing Sensitive Client Data at the Law Firm.