Data security is an essential part of doing business for law firms. For an organization that is continually entrusted with highly sensitive information, it would be a mistake not to take this matter seriously.
Gone are the days when a potential client will call on the phone, and someone takes copious notes on a legal pad. Instead, you’re more likely to have a prospective client contact you through an online form or chat, sometimes giving you details about their situation.
As a law firm, you have a responsibility and duty to ensure the information a client provides to you at any point in your relationship remains private. Unfortunately, lawyers and law firms can also be prime targets for hackers, which is why your firm needs to make sure its networks are secure.
Law Firms Overwhelmingly Disregard Cyber Security
You would think that law firms would be technologically savvy and concerned about security. But, only a portion of today’s firms are doing enough to keep precious data safe.
According to a 2020 ABA Tech report cybersecurity survey, just 43% of respondents use file encryption, and 39% use email encryption. The same survey revealed that only 39% of respondents use two-factor authentication, and 29% use intrusion prevention or detection methods.
Those figures reveal that more than half of this country’s law firms are failing to give cyber security the attention it deserves. It’s true that setting up network security can be time-consuming and costly. But the cost of not focusing on these items can mean data breaches, compromised systems, and damage to your law firm’s reputation.
Creating a Secure Law Firm Network
Every data exchange between a law firm and its customers should be secure. This isn’t just because it’s the right thing to do (it is). It’s also because the client base wants and demands this protection.
Relationships with service providers, like law firms, rely on trust. So a firm risks damaging their business if they suffer data breaches. Here are some of the ways your law firm can create a secure network.
- Identify Your Cyber Assets
If you want your law firm’s network to be secure, it’s a good idea to start with an inventory of your various cyber assets. List all of the technology your law firm uses. Some of the categories you can explore include:
- Systems and Hardware — Take an inventory of all fire servers, network-attached storage (NAS), PCs, laptops, mobile devices, and printers.
- Networking Infrastructure — Does your law firm have a wired (LAN) and a Wi-Fi network? What do you connect to these, and who has access to them?
- Applications and Data — What software applications does your firm use, and what functions do they serve? Also, where and how is the data stored for those applications?
- Network Users — Make a list of all users who have access to the system, including what privileges they have.
- Create Strong Passwords
Your law firm’s network is only as secure as the systems you put in place to protect it. This starts with strong passwords. Unfortunately, most people use the same password over and over, which exposes your business to a data breach. Require that employees use strong passwords and change them frequently.
- Require Multi-Factor Authentication
In addition to strong passwords, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your systems. This is available for many different applications, requiring the user to enter an additional code to access an account. The code can come from Google Authenticator, another app on your phone, or through a text message.
- Consider Your Physical Security
There are multiple ways a bad actor can gain access to your law firm’s network. One of them is through possession of your business’s hardware. Make sure you address the physical security of your law firm to keep things like PCs and laptops secure.
- Encrypt Sensitive Data
There is a lot of information exchange happening with a law practice. Clients need to send you data, and you need to respond in kind. Every law firm should consider encrypting data that is in transit as well as stored data to avoid being the victim of a data breach. Proxies and other tools can help create encrypted and secured channels for this information exchange.
- Limit Your Employee and Guest Access
Not every employee needs access to all of your systems. At the same time, guests don’t require login credentials for your private network. When configuring your law firm’s network, consider who needs to access which parts. Specifically, make sure you don’t allow clients or vendors to access your LAN, intranet, or local network.
- Enable Your Firewall
A firewall scrutinizes data moving in or out of your network and will disallow anything it doesn’t trust. You should enable your firewall and ask it to block any incoming communication from applications or users that you don’t specify.
- Keep Your Systems Updated
Malware is one of the biggest threats to your internal systems. And this type of threat preys on weaknesses in your system. Software and hardware companies issue periodic updates to address new types of threats. Make sure you take advantage of these.
- Develop Cyber Security Policies
Create an official cyber security policy for your law firm. The policy should be detailed and cover all the measures your firm is implementing, including what devices are acceptable to use, how and when logins are appropriate, and procedures for loss mitigation.
- Educate Your Staff
When it comes to network security, there are few foolproof methods that won’t break the bank. One of your best investments will be in employee training and education. Spend significant resources educating your staff about the various ways a security breach can happen, how to adhere to your firm’s policies, and what to do if there is the possibility of a breach.
Ready to Address Your Law Firm’s Network Security?
When it comes to the security of your law firm’s data and the privacy of its clients, simply having an off-the-shelf anti-virus program won’t be sufficient. Your law firm needs an intuitive and functional legal website. But it also must have a comprehensive network security solution in place that respects the sanctity of its client’s personal data.
At Too Darn Loud Digital Marketing, our website professionals understand that your website and its clients are some of its most valuable assets. We help law firms create an effective, memorable, and secure online presence through functional, accessible, and attractive design. Contact us today to learn more.