Cybersecurity is one of the most important aspects of keeping your law firm data secure, but only 50% of law firms have effective cybersecurity plans in place. Fortunately, law firms can take concrete steps today to improve cybersecurity efforts and build their system from the ground up.
Update Your Operating System
Installing the updates for your device can feel annoying especially when the update wants to download in the middle of your project — and there’s always some project you’re working on as a busy lawyer. But failing to regularly update your operating system can leave you vulnerable to security risks such as hackers, malware, and vicious viruses. If you want to build a solid cybersecurity foundation, you must update your operating system when new updates become available. Updating your operating system might be one of the easiest cybersecurity steps you can take, and here are some additional reasons why installing updates is important:
- Avoid disaster and lost productivity. Failure to install updates could cause you to inadvertently pass on malware and viruses to colleagues. Getting infected can create serious downtime and require a huge monetary investment to clean up the system and recover files.
- Hackers exploit vulnerabilities. Many operating system updates are designed to fix bugs that allow hackers access to your system. Failing to install updates can leave those vulnerabilities in place and make you more susceptible to hacker attacks. Still pumped about Windows ’95? Time for a major upgrade!
- Updates add new features. Some operating system updates include new features that can aid your productivity or might even be recommended by your law practice management software. Using those new features included in your new OS could save you time and make you more money in the long run.
Two-factor authentication requires to you enter secondary data to access a system. You may see this most often on bank accounts and some email systems. Law firms who want to increase barriers for potential hackers should consider two-factor authentication for access to any systems that store sensitive data. Using two-factor authentication will make your law firm’s data safer. If your software or app doesn’t have two-factor authentication, you should still be able to utalize two-factor authentication on your device or computer to have that added security.
Law firms should consider data encryption as a key component in their cybersecurity plan. But using data encryption should be determined by the sensitivity of the data being protected. Ask yourself, if this data were to fall into the wrong hands, would it be catastrophic for your client? If the answer is a genuine “yes” then using data encryption will be a great benefit to your law firm. Under certain circumstances, data breaches on some kinds of data is a clear violation of the victims’ privacy and could result in severe penalties for the law firm if necessary measures weren’t taken to protect the data.
It’s also important to remember that devices get stolen all the time. Encrypting information on your laptops, smartphones, and desktops can keep sensitive client information out of the hands of hackers and thieves.
Use Password Managers for Better Law Firm Cybersecurity
Strong password security is the first line of defense for law firms. Failure to use passwords that can’t be easily hacked means that your law firm data is at risk of being stolen. But lawyers are using so many different systems that remembering different passwords is just too much to handle. That’s where password managers come to the rescue. Good password managers will generate random, impossible to hack passwords for your sites and remember it for you and can sync passwords across your computer and mobile lawyer apps. This can be a lifesaver for your law firm.
Leverage a Hybrid Cloud-based Case Management System
There are lots of benefits to cloud-based practice management software for law firms. Many software companies offer encrypted cloud storage for your sensitive data relieving some of the cybersecurity burdens but there are also downfalls to only relying on 100% cloud-based software. For example, if you don’t have internet access — or on the rare occasion like the Amazon S3 Service Disruption in February 2017 that crippled websites and software across the country for a day — you don’t have access to your law firm’s files.
Case management systems like Smokeball use a hybrid cloud system where you have the benefits of unlimited cloud storage for your data and law firm document management, while still allowing local access when you don’t have an internet connection. This is especially beneficial to law firms that are in the process of becoming more technologically advanced but haven’t made the full transition (or if you’re stuck in a courtroom with horrible wi-fi). And it’s beneficial when it’s not always possible to remain connected to the internet will working on a law firm matter. You might benefit from a hybrid cloud system if:
- If you’re transitioning to the cloud incrementally. Maybe you’re unable to move all of your systems, like your legal calendar, and data to the cloud so you need to access some information locally, or some of the time.
- You need to keep some data local. Maybe you want some of your data in the cloud while restricting other data to local access only.
- You don’t need a lot of cloud storage right now but you may need to grow it in the future.
Common Cybersecurity Mistakes
By now, almost every law firm knows the importance of cybersecurity but they make a lot of mistakes when trying to implement a plan. Let’s take a look at a few cybersecurity mistakes you should avoid:
- Cook cutter solutions. There are no one-size fits all cybersecurity solutions for law firms. Every law firm has different needs outside of the basics so you’ll need to do a cybersecurity assessment before you formulate and implement a plan. Your cybersecurity assessment will look at your law firm’s cybersecurity flaws and needs and give you insight into what steps you should take to improve.
- Naivety about hackers. Some small law firms assume that no hacker will target them because they’re too small. But the truth is that hackers are more likely to target smaller entities because they know that they have the weakest cybersecurity measures in place. And if they’re able to steal and exploit the sensitive data of hundreds of small law firms, they can still make off with a fortune.
- Not taking a holistic approach. Cybersecurity isn’t just about IT, it’s also about the attitude and behavior of your associates and support staff. While using the best case software and systems can give you an edge in the cybersecurity arena, it’s all for naught if your law firm staff doesn’t take protecting data seriously. To have an effective cybersecurity system you must improve IT and staff attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge.
Don’t leave your law firm vulnerable to hackers, improve your cybersecurity today.
If you’re interested in learning more about Smokeball and the steps we take to protect your law firm’s data, schedule a free demo and see the Smokeball difference.