Why law firms are so vulnerable to data breaches

Why law firms are so vulnerable to data breaches

From solving patent disputes to negotiating employment contracts and acquisition deals, law firms deal with highly sensitive information every day. So although it isn’t surprising that they are highly lucrative targets to hackers, there’s a bit more to it than meets the eye.

Every business holds sensitive information. Law firms, on the other hand, are built on trust and reputation, and they’re subject to some of the toughest compliance regulations of all.

Data breaches affecting law firms hit the headlines all the time. We’ve all heard of the disaster that befell Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, which, at one time, was one of the largest four offshore law firms in the world. Following the enormously embarrassing data breach that revealed the tax-management habits of Britain’s royal family and other celebrities, the company permanently closed its doors in March 2018. However, that’s just one example among many of why law firms must protect their data.

Most law firms aren’t prepared for a data breach

Perhaps the most astounding statistic of all is that only 37% of law firms are regularly vetting the cybersecurity and data-management policies of their third-party providers. The skyrocketing cost of cybersecurity isn’t helping matters, and many small firms struggle to keep up.

For many firms, hiring an in-house security team isn’t affordable, and legal practitioners themselves often aren’t particularly well-versed in the complexities of cybersecurity. Fortunately, managed solutions present an economical alternative.

The very fact that law firms have a reputation for being relatively easy targets is enough to have hackers clamoring at the gates. They know there’s a good chance of a small law firm dropping its guard, so they’re ready to exploit them at any opportunity. That doesn’t just mean subpar IT solutions either, since many legal practitioners aren’t familiar with the nature of cyberattacks, they often fall for social engineering scams, which dupe unsuspecting victims into surrendering confidential information.

Another reason why law firms are often behind the curve when it comes to cybersecurity is that they are heavily self-regulated. Strict industry-specific regulations demand that lawyers make every “reasonable” effort to protect their clients’ data. But the wording of those regulations is vague about exactly which technological and administrative security measures firms must have in place. Professional rules of conduct, most of which are standard across the legal sector, also provide little in the way of guidelines on how to keep digital data under lock and key.

How digital transformation is driving change in the legal sector

Years ago, the typical law office revolved around rows of filing cabinets with thousands of files and folders and digital equivalents were even worse. Even today, many law offices store large numbers of digital records across numerous disconnected systems ranging from in-house computers to employee-owned devices and poorly monitored cloud storage systems. Often times, practice owners don’t even know where all their data resides.

By adopting a properly planned and executed digital transformation strategy, law firms end up with an organized and easy-to-manage catalog of systems and data that decrease the chance of a cyberattack. Instead of having to protect an array of disconnected and scattered computing systems, management is centralized.

Founders Technology Group helps law firms in New Haven, Hartford, and Springfield digitally transform themselves under the guidance of industry-leading expertise and cutting-edge technology. Call us today to get started.