Most firms already employ the most common data security tools such as spam filters, anti-spyware, software-based firewalls and virus scanning on PCs and email. These are essential cyber risk management tools, but law firms need to take further action.
Implement these 5 cyber risk management tips to protect your firm:
- Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt
Encryption is a simple and relevant cyber risk management tool. Lost or stolen laptops and devices are a top cause of law firm data breaches. The use of full-disk encryption on laptops, smart phones and other devices can help mitigate this risk. If a computer or device is encrypted, the information cannot be accessed.
- Use caution when using the cloud
Working in the cloud has many advantages for law firms, including cost savings, scalability, increased mobility and more. However, cloud technology has its own exposures. When a lawyer stores firm and client information in the cloud, that information is essentially stored off site, possibly in another country, where it may be subject to international search and seizure laws.
At minimum, lawyers must use due diligence in selecting a cloud provider by asking the right questions. Does the cloud provider employ adequate security to protect the data? Will the data be stored internationally? If so, will it be subject to search and seizure? Lawyers should know what data they are placing in the cloud and whether that data is subject to state or federal privacy laws. Have the clients provided their written consent to place information in the cloud? Will the information in the cloud be encrypted?
- Beware of personal devices
While advantageous for many reasons, bring your own devices policies are risky if appropriate security measures are not taken. If your firm allows personal devices, implement encryption and password protection plans. Install software that can “wipe” the device if the employee leaves the company. Consider installing a remote location-tracking app on the device to help locate it if the device is misplaced.
- Train your staff
The importance of employee training cannot be overemphasized. Educating staff on confidentiality issues and avoiding a data breach can reduce the risks your firm faces. Employees should understand their critical role in maintaining data security. They should also receive instruction on the policies and practices your firm expects them to follow, including internet usage and social media policies. Periodic training for employees can help avoid many potential data breaches.
- Consider Cyber Liability Insurance
Given the potentially devastating financial impact of a data breach, cyber liability insurance coverage can mean all the difference between a law firm surviving a data breach or not surviving at all. Cyber liability insurance can help a law firm cover the costs related to a data breach, including privacy breach notification expenses, litigation, loss of income, regulatory fines and penalties and other expenses.
Data security represents a real and growing concern for law firms. Excellent data security is a growing standard for clients in their legal counsel selection and failing to provide this security can have serious legal, financial and reputational consequences. Implement these tips to make five simple improvements in your firm’s data security.