Law firms are entrusted with a wealth of sensitive information. Confidentiality is one of the core principles of the legal profession. When clients hire your law firm, they need to know that whatever they say will be protected via attorney-client privilege. Unfortunately, data breaches have become a common occurrence, threatening your client’s privacy and your law firm’s reputation. The good news is you can put together a strong online presence and digital marketing strategy that gives cybersecurity the attention it deserves.
Why Network Security Matters for Your Law Firm
Cybersecurity incidents are a rising concern for law firms. The FBI’s Internet Crime Report reveals that the cost of cybercrime in 2022 alone reached $10.3 billion. While the total number of incidents went down, the dollar value of losses rose a staggering 49%.
According to the American Bar Association, law firms are attractive targets for cybercriminals because they hold sensitive and valuable information about clients in their databases. In its 2022 Legal Technology Survey, the ABA asked law firms, “Has your firm ever experienced a security breach?” 27% of respondents answered, “yes.”
Even with greater awareness about cyber threats, many small businesses don’t feel equipped to adequately defend against them. But considering the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $9.48 million, how can your law firm afford NOT to make network security a priority?
Common Network Security Threats
Law firm cybersecurity is a challenge for many law firms as they handle highly sensitive client information and internal data. In our predominantly digital world, law firms exchange and store information online, making them vulnerable to attacks by hackers and other cybersecurity risks.
Malware refers to different types of malicious software that are intentionally installed on your system with the intent to do harm to your law firm or its clients. The software exploits vulnerabilities in your network, server, or some other aspect of your system to gain access. The most common types of malware include:
- Ransomware— If you are the victim of ransomware, you may lose access to your system until you pay a specified “ransom” to the hackers.
- Spyware— Once installed on your system, this type of software will collect and transmit sensitive data without your knowledge.
- Viruses— When malicious code is inserted into one of your programs, it will continue to copy itself and cause havoc.
Phishing attacks are pervasive threats to law firms. According to a recent Verizon report, 96% of all legal sector data breaches were due to phishing attacks. This is a type of cyber attack using an email message or a malicious website to access a victim’s computer and steal sensitive data. The request seems to be legitimate, such as confirming login credentials, but it’s entirely fake.
Denial-of-Service (Dos) Attacks
This type of cybersecurity attack happens when hackers flood a law firm’s servers or networks with traffic to drain its resources, leaving the firm unable to handle normal business.
These types of threats work when hackers exploit a vulnerability between the time a business announces there is a problem and when the solution gets implemented.
Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) Attacks
A MitM attack happens when a malicious third party is able to inject themselves into the middle of a transaction, effectively filtering or diverting sensitive data. For example, a hacker might intercept client payments or information being sent to your firm by a client.
Many law firms fail to consider the danger of insider threats to their client and firm data. Whether accidental or intentional, it’s not uncommon for law firm employees and even the attorneys themselves to cause a data breach.
Your Cybersecurity Obligations as a Law Firm
Law firms throughout the U.S. are expected to safeguard client data and maintain operations that meet the highest levels of security and integrity. While specific requirements may vary based on state regulations, your law firm has several cybersecurity obligations it should make a priority:
- Protecting Confidentiality— A principal obligation of law firms is to safeguard the confidentiality of client data. Accomplishing this requires that law firms implement access controls, secure electronic systems, and employ appropriate encryption.
- Ethical Responsibility— The ABA has created ethics rules that compel attorneys to safeguard client information. In adhering to this duty, law firms must maintain client confidence and secure their electronic communications.
- Third-Party Due Diligence— Law firms must exercise due diligence when partnering with third-party contractors and vendors. This includes evaluating their data handling measures and security practices to ensure sufficient protection of client information.
- Incident Response Planning— Every law firm should have a comprehensive plan in place outlining how it will address and mitigate cybersecurity events. This includes protocols for detecting and responding to any type of security or data breach.
Protecting Your Law Firm With Network Security Services
Even if you understand that data security is essential for your law firm and its clients, it’s still possible that you might overlook something. After all, most lawyers are incredibly busy helping clients solve pressing legal issues, meaning something like network security could unintentionally slip through the cracks.
As these threats become more pervasive and complex, a proactive approach to network security is critical to protect your client’s confidentiality and your law firm’s data. Some of the elements of an effective law firm network security strategy include:
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is the new standard for protecting the integrity and confidentiality of data between a user and the website they are accessing. Today’s consumers expect a secure and private online experience. And Google has even begun penalizing websites that don’t provide a HTTPS certificate.
Secure Hardware Systems
Every device on your law firm’s network — from laptops to smartphones to printers to other “smart” devices — can be exploited by cybercriminals. That’s why it’s essential you secure anything having access to your system with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Your law firm should also have an automatic backup system in place as insurance against a catastrophic event. If something were to damage or destroy your storage systems, you would have access to this backup data to continue serving your clients.
Human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches. You can avoid many problems, such as downloading malware or clicking on suspicious websites, by taking the time to educate your staff about the different threats and their responsibilities according to your clearly documented procedures.
Legal Marketing Best Practices for Network Security
Digital marketing solutions for your law firm focus on both your practice’s and client’s data, so security is of the highest priority. Some legal marketing best practices for network security include:
- Email Marketing— Even though email marketing is incredibly effective, it can also be risky in terms of cybercrime. Over 90% of cyberattacks happen through email messages. When using this form of digital marketing, it’s vital that your team follow a set of best practices.
- Social Media Marketing— The online scams involving social media are virtually limitless, where hackers attempt to steal people’s personal data and wealth. When you market your law firm on these platforms, you must do so with some strict guidelines.
- CRM System— Your law firm’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is an attractive target for hackers because it contains all of your client data. Protecting this system is essential to safeguarding your client’s privacy and your firm’s reputation.
- CMS Software— A Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress is a powerful and versatile software solution for promoting your law firm. When using a CMS, it’s critical that you keep it and all plugins updated to safeguard against new online threats.
How Our Legal Marketing Agency Can Help
Your law firm basically operates as a small business. You might have an in-house IT person tasked with various cybersecurity matters or rely on a few software solutions for protection. But, the risks of a data breach have become significant, and your firm’s reputation is too valuable to jeopardize.
Fortunately, Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing specializes in creating secure and effective digital marketing solutions for its clients. We invite the opportunity to sit down with you to discuss your law firm’s vision and web design needs. Our cybersecurity solutions include:
- HTTPS Secure Websites
- Domain Monitoring
- Regular Data Backups
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Employee Education
And if your law firm experiences a data breach event, we can provide the skilled assistance you need to continue normal operations and safeguard your reputation.
Contact Us for Secure Legal Marketing Services Today
Cybersecurity isn’t something your law firm can afford to ignore. There are a host of security risks that not only jeopardize your small business but also the clients who put their trust in you. It’s your responsibility to safeguard the privacy and information entrusted to your business.
Creating a strong cybersecurity plan should be an integral part of every legal marketing strategy. At Too Darn Loud Legal Marketing, we take your firm’s data security seriously. When we address these risks as part of your overall plan, we help you promote your business without exposing your law firm to security risks.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how our comprehensive legal marketing solutions can help your law firm.