Top 11 Cybersecurity Tips for Law Firms

Worm's eye view of a legal government building's ceiling and pillars.

In this era, digital information and communication are at the core of legal practice. Maintaining cybersecurity for law firms during this time is just crucial. Law firms are becoming increasingly attractive targets for cybercriminals. 

The inherent nature of highly sensitive legal data means law firms must prioritize cybersecurity! Maintaining core cybersecurity practices not only protects your clients’ information but also helps you uphold trust and professional integrity.

Here, we’ll discuss 11 essential cybersecurity tips that every law firm should consider. 

[Related: Why Law Firms Need Managed IT Support]

1. Employee Training and Awareness

Start with your people!

It’s absolutely essential that you train your staff on cybersecurity best practices. This applies to your colleagues as well as paralegals, interns and support personnel, like front desk receptionists. 

Ensure they know the risks associated with email phishing, social engineering and strong password management. It may seem abundantly clear to you, but other staff may not know simple passwords (even with numbers) aren’t viable. 

employee training on cybersecurity for law firms

[Related: Protect Your Inbox With Advanced Email Protection]

2. Data Encryption

Next, guarantee that your firm encrypts its data. Encryption ensures that if hackers intercept or steal data, it remains unintelligible without the decryption key. So even if it gets into a bad actor’s hands, they can’t read it. 

Implement data encryption for all sensitive information that your firm exchanges or that sits dormant (e.g., data you don’t access often). 

Just because you aren’t actively using or referencing certain data doesn’t mean its protection should fall by the wayside. It holds information that’s valuable to cybercriminals, too.

[Related: Cyberthreat Are Changing: Is Your Protection Keeping Up?]

3. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Enforce MFA for all systems and applications — always. 

MFA adds an extra layer of security because it requires that users give multiple forms of identification to access data. Your IT team will know how to set this up — various tools can configure this feature for your team, office and whole firm. 

[Related: Security Gaps Exist — Here’s How to Fix Them]

4. Regular Software Updates and Patch Management

A little patchwork goes a long way. With that said, routinely update your operating systems, software and applications to address potential security vulnerabilities. 

Cybercriminals often target outdated software with known weaknesses. So keeping all your firm’s programs and devices in tip-top shape is key. 

5. Secure Password Policies

This tip bounces off our first one regarding employee awareness. While it’s great for staff to know how to create strong passwords on their own, you certainly should set strong password policies. 

This means that all user accounts require complex and unique passwords. And autogenerated, tough passwords are practically always safer than those staff create alone. 

Additionally, encourage your staff to change their passwords regularly and to use password management tools (e.g., LastPass) for generating and storing secure passwords. 

cybersecurity for law firms

[Related: Are Your Passwords Safe?]

6. Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems

Ensure your law firm has firewalls and intrusion detection systems. These are great security tactics to leverage for ongoing protection. 

The main goal of these tools is to monitor network traffic for suspicious activities. That way, you or your IT services provider can identify potential threats in real time. In turn, you can respond to those threats immediately! 

[Related: Newly Detected Malware Could Have Far-Reaching Impacts]

7. Secure File-Sharing and Collaboration Tools

Use secure file-sharing and collaboration platform tools to encrypt data during both transit and storage. 

But remember, make sure all parties at your firm who have access to shared documents follow stringent security protocols. This means that absolutely no one shares documents outside the firm. 

For example, if you can access a document only on a company computer but don’t have time to finish work on it, don’t send it to your personal email address to access at home. This is extremely risky — and unethical — because you put your clients, your job and your firm in jeopardy.

[Related: 5 Tips to Protect Personal Information and Business Data]

8. Data Backup and Recovery Plans

Next, implement a robust data backup and recovery strategy

While it may seem like a no-brainer, many firms forget to perform regular backups. This is a serious issue when it comes to critical data because if someone loses or alters it, your work and schedules suffer significant consequences. 

With that said, prioritize performing routine backups to ensure all data is safe and stored securely — both on- and off-site. Then, test those backup and recovery procedures to ensure their efficacy.

[Related: World Backup Day Just Happened. Are You Prepared?]

9. Incident Response Plan

Now, let’s say you’ve become the victim of a cyberattack. What do you do?

You should have a comprehensive incident response plan in place — and if you don’t have one, develop one ASAP! This plan should outline the steps your staff take if a data breach or any other security incident occurs.

In addition to a list of next-step actions, assign roles and responsibilities to specific staff. And don’t forget to regularly review and update your plan. Cybercriminals are nimble, so you need to be on your toes, too.

planning a defense against cyber attacks

[Related: It’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month: How Safe Are Your Systems?]

10. Compliance With Legal and Regulatory Requirements

Stay informed on cybersecurity regulations and requirements that apply specifically to law firms. Each industry generally has its own compliance guidelines, depending on how sensitive the data it handles is. 

Based on your jurisdiction, you may need to comply with data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

[Related: Compliance Matters — Here’s Why]

11. Vendor and Third-Party Security

Leverage third-party vendors and service providers (and their security practices) to ensure your data remains safe. These outlets can access your firm’s data and give you an extra set of eyes — and a dose of reassurance — that your data is safe.

Furthermore, you have an extra set of hands to enact your response plan and recover data if matters go awry. These businesses also help you meet and stay current with the latest cybersecurity standards while mirroring industry best practices.

[Related: IT Support to Benefit Your Business]

Contact CMIT Solutions of Seattle

Cybersecurity isn’t an option — it’s a necessity for all law firms, no matter their size or status.

Neglecting cybersecurity at your law firm can result in devastating consequences. Remember: Prevention is the best defense when it comes to cybersecurity, so safeguard your sensitive legal information as best you can. 

Our 11 tips help strengthen your defenses, but that’s not always enough. Reliable Seattle IT support is crucial for seamless operations and safeguarding against cyber threats.

You don’t have to do it all alone — we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can protect your firm! 

Featured image via Unsplash

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