It’s no secret that law firms hold a massive amount of confidential client data. And with the dramatic growth and usage of cloud computing, the need to secure the transmission and sharing of this data is becoming more important than ever. When dealing with legal contracts such as corporate agreements, mergers and acquisitions or business strategies, legal firms today must manage an increasing frequency of IT threats and actual cybersecurity attacks.
How to secure legal documents, therefore, should be a top priority for law firms today. But is it? Evidence suggests otherwise.
According to LexisNexis report on file sharing in the legal industry, there is a real need for safe legal document file transfers and other management and security of confidential data. The report shows that over 50% of lawyers surveyed, used cloud-based sharing services such as Dropbox and Box to share sensitive client information. And while these cloud-based apps offer a convenient way of sharing, they also provide an open gateway for criminals unless protected with heavy authentication.
In this article, we’ll cover the holes in law firm security; how and why legal practices are neglecting to secure confidential client data and some solutions for how to better law firm security, improve legal document protection and safely share them with their clients.
What’s Causing the Gap in Legal Document Security?
Despite tightening regulatory requirements on law firm security, legal firms seem to be neglecting the proper precautions for protecting their clients’ data. Often, they do not understand the need for recommended security practices such as two-factor authentication or encrypting email correspondence. In the case of some smaller law firms, many feel that they are not large enough to sustain an IT department to handle so much sensitive client data.
Some other firms view data security as an afterthought in general, or as an overhead expense to be minimized. But with 70 percent of large firms not even knowing whether they’ve been breached, the need for data security in law firms is more evident than ever. For many companies, it often takes many months to learn about a breach, and typically it’s only after someone has reported it and it’s too late. These types of breaches pose a great danger to firms today. With law firms being increasingly targeted by hackers because of the wealth of proprietary data they hold, law firms would be wise to take note and actively work to improve their security measures.
How You Can Improve Law Firm Cybersecurity:
Securing legal firms’ IT systems directly impacts their ability to strengthen their relationships with clients. Because they constantly deal with the preservation and transfer of highly sensitive information, the highest levels of security should be used to protect and secure client data as well. When it comes to encryption, for example, law firms should ensure that their software providers are using 256-bit encryption methods for safe transfer of client data. Effective and ongoing security training of employees is also important. This includes, for example, improving employee awareness of data use policy violations.
Law firms should also make every effort possible to backup data, implement firewalls and maintain updated security software. Audit trails should be in place as well to monitor who is accessing client data and when. And firms should stay on top of changing regulations and obligations, and ensure proper compliance with legal authorities. Maintaining security protocols that follow regulatory compliance is both a requirement and an obligation to a law firm’s clients.
Safe-T’s Law Firm Solution
Law firms today must exercise extreme diligence when it comes to cyber security. While some firms have become aware of this key issue, others have simply not taken on the challenge to secure and protect their sensitive client information.
To help improve cyber defenses, law firm security should be constantly monitored and managed to provide the utmost security for clients. Safe-T’s law firm solution ensures that all of a law firms’ client data is supported and secured, and not leaked or exposed to harmful data theft or other vulnerabilities. With Safe-T’s solution, all documentation is secured end-to-end with 256-bit level encryption. Data access is secured into legal applications, protecting sensitive data and preventing dangerous and unwanted criminal access and attacks.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in November 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.