Post 5 - Ransomware attacks

The Key to Cyber Resilience: The 7 Reasons Your Legal Firm Should Prioritise Cyber Security Awareness

According to a 2023 survey involving 200 UK law firms, more than 80% found they run an IT landscape with exploitable vulnerabilities.

As a result of digitization, legal firms now handle a great deal of sensitive information during their daily operations. Confidentiality and integrity are core tenets of the legal profession,  as set out in the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Standards and Regulations and the Bar Standards Board’s Handbook.

At the same time data breaches are increasingly common, threatening the privacy of both customer data and your law firm’s reputation.

The survey highlights that the legal sector needs to adopt new technology faster. As online threats become more sophisticated and common, traditionalist views are leaving law firms exposed.

Therefore, maintaining a high cybersecurity awareness across your organisation can help to enhance cyber resilience.

Cloud Geeni’s article outlines seven fundamental reasons cybersecurity awareness should be a foremost concern for your legal firms, ensuring you don’t become a prime target for cybercriminals.

  1. The evolving cybersecurity landscape in the legal sector

The legal sector has seen an exponential rise in cloud adoption.

While this shift has undoubtedly bolstered efficiency, collaboration and accessibility it has also ushered in a new era of cyber threats.

Furthermore the unique nature of legal operations, dealing with highly sensitive data and confidential client information, makes these firms lucrative targets for malicious individuals, groups and organisations seeking to exploit vulnerabilities.

According to the June 2023 National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) Cyber Threat Report: UK Legal Sector, law firms handle highly sensitive client information relating to criminal cases knowledge about the plaintiff and defendant, litigation outcomes, and details about mergers and acquisitions.  Hackers can use this valuable information for other gains, such as subverting the course of justice or manipulating negotiations and litigation, selling data and inflicting financial ransoms.

Recent incidents of cyberattacks targeting law firms underscore the gravity of the issue, leaving no room for complacency. For example, the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority found that three-quarters of UK law firms have been victims of cyberattacks.

Overall, cyber threats targeting legal operations keep increasing in scale and sophistication, and this calls for continuous cybersecurity awareness. The measure ensures law firms know emerging cybersecurity threats and the most effective actions to counter them.

  1. Regulatory compliance and legal obligations

Clients entrust your firm with an array of confidential information. As such, protecting client data is vital and an ethical imperative.

The NCSC report indicates that entrusting the legal sector to safeguard highly confidential, personal, and often commercially sensitive data makes it a premier target for threat actors.

In addition, an intricate web of regulations designed to safeguard sensitive information underscores this responsibility. For instance, regulations like GDPR and HIPAA impose stringent data protection and privacy requirements, casting a wide net over law firms dealing with personal and sensitive data.

However, the potential consequences of non-compliance are substantial. Fines, penalties, and legal actions can rapidly accumulate, compromising a firm’s financial stability and hard-earned reputation.

When your employees profoundly understand the regulatory landscape, they become the first line of defense against breaches. Moreover, fostering a cybersecurity awareness culture helps legal firms navigate the complex regulatory landscape, ensuring compliance and preventing legal and reputational repercussions.

  1. Client trust and confidentiality

Your clients rely on you to maintain the confidentiality of their most sensitive matters. This foundational trust is the cornerstone of a successful client relationship.

However, a cybersecurity breach can shatter this trust in an instant. For example, imagine a scenario where a law firm’s defenses are breached, exposing confidential client documents and communications. Such an event doesn’t merely compromise data; it strikes at the heart of the client-firm relationship, eroding trust that took years to build.

Such instances underscore the critical interplay between cybersecurity and client trust. Prioritising cybersecurity awareness amongst your employees fortifies a firm’s defences to ensure cyber resilience and nurtures the trust upon which the legal profession thrives.

  1. Data breach costs and financial implications

 

Your firm stands to lose up to £3 million if they suffer a successful data breach. The costs associated with data breach recovery are multifaceted.

Technical remediation, system repairs, and data restoration often require extensive investments in cybersecurity experts and forensic analysis. Additionally, legal actions and potential lawsuits amplify the financial burden.

As of July 2023, five class action suits have been filed against in the USA.

But this is not just a USA problem, many of the firms in the suit have offices in London and across the world.

All the lawsuits have one thing in common: failure to protect client data from cyberattacks.

However, prudent investment in cybersecurity awareness can serve as a financial bulwark. This initial investment pales in comparison to the financial ramifications of a breach.

  1. Cloud security: Shared responsibility model

In this collaborative security model between your firm and the Cloud Service Provider each has a different set of responsibilities.

Cybersecurity awareness among legal firm employees is pivotal in this approach. Specifically, recognising potential threats, adhering to best practices, and promptly reporting suspicious activities are critical components of maintaining a secure cloud environment.

You should provide regular training, ensure multi factor authentication is used wherever possible and strong passwords a must.

The responsibilities of the CSP (or IT Managed Service Provider) include ensuring that all software, including operating systems, applications, and security software, is kept up to date. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software.

Your IT Managed Service Provider should also provide support and expert advice for your firm to develop an Incident recovery and disaster recovery plan alongside security patching and phishing tests.

Cybersecurity awareness empowers employees to be vigilant against phishing attempts, social engineering attacks, and unauthorised access attempts. Subsequently, a law firm can achieve a stronger cybersecurity posture and cyber resilience.

  1. Employee training and countering insider threats

Accidental lapses like falling for phishing attacks or misconfiguring settings expose weak points to malicious actors. Additionally insiders may exploit their insider knowledge to compromise firm data.

It may be surprising to know that  UK law firms attribute 68% of data breaches to insider threats.

In this regard, ongoing employee training educates against evolving threats and helps your employees across the organisation recognise and thwart suspicious activities.

Furthermore, cybersecurity awareness fosters a culture of vigilance and effectively counters insider threats, reinforcing the overall cyber resilience of law firms.

  1. Building a culture of cybersecurity awareness

Firstly, obtaining buy-in from leadership is essential as executives’ prioritisation of cybersecurity invariably sets the tone for employee engagement.

Subsequently, establishing ongoing training sessions remains a foundational tactic that ensures employees remain well-versed in the ever-evolving threat landscape, best practices, and the firm’s customised security protocols.

Integrating interactive workshops further solidifies cybersecurity awareness. Cybersecurity workshops actively engage employees in immersive and hands-on learning experiences, thereby reinforcing their knowledge of best cybersecurity practices and how they can play a role in strengthening the firm’s cyber resilience.

Introducing simulations and drills specifically centered around simulated cyberattacks adds an extra layer of practicality to the awareness-building process. These mock scenarios provide employees with a firsthand taste of authentic situations. As a result, they hone their abilities to discern and adeptly respond to genuine real-world threats.

Cloud Geeni are an IT Managed Service Provider and trusted partner to the Legal Sector for over two decades.

Specialising in migrating legal firms from on-premise server infrastructure to the cloud and providing industry leading cyber security measures including Cyber Essentials Plus, ISO27001 and vulnerability reporting.

www.cloudgeeni.co.uk

Cloud Geeni

Cloud Geeni
Cloud Geeni are an industry leading IT Managed Service Provider specialising in private and public cloud infrastructure for the legal sector. With over two decades of experience as a trusted IT partner to Legal firms UK wide, our in-house team of engineers are adept in designing and implementing custom solutions that align seamlessly with your firm's needs, enabling you to focus on delivering exceptional legal services without worrying about your IT infrastructure. Cloud Geeni specialise in cyber security, employing state-of-the-art measures to fortify your cloud environment against potential threats. From robust encryption protocols to advanced firewalls and multi-factor authentication, we create an impenetrable shield around your data. We understand that no two legal practices are alike, we take the time to understand your specific requirements and aspirations whilst providing unrivalled end user support. Learn more about Cloud Geeni : www.cloudgeeni.co.uk