Why Computer Security Is Critical for Lawyers
It is crucial for the legal professionals to recognize cyber threats and take
immediate action to defend against cyber intrusions of client data and
other confidential information.
Law firms are a prime target for cyber criminals as they store a large amount
of valuable and sensitive confidential client information on their computer
networks. The cyber risks for law firms are diverse and changing day by day
with increased hacking and data interception threats and greater use of
mobile devices and cloud computing.
The New York Times in a recent article drew attention to the fact that a
growing number of big corporate clients are asking their law firms to take
more steps to guard against online intrusions that could compromise
Cyber Risks – What Is Involved
Cyber criminals may steal personal and confidential data. The theft and
subsequent publication of confidential information held on a law firm's
computer could be very damaging for both the law firm and its clients.
Further risks may involve:
o Cyber extortion: Cyber extortion is a crime that involves a cyber
attack, or threat of it, against an organization coupled with a demand
for money to stop the attack. The majority of cyber extortion episodes
go unreported because victims mostly shun publicity.
o Phishing and spear phishing: Phishing is the process by which cyber
thieves are able to lure unsuspecting victims to a malicious link that
executes malware. These malicious links are usually presented to a
user through an e-mail message. Spear-phishing is particularly
focused on a single user or department within an organization. Cyber
criminals gather information about a victim, which is then used to
construct a fraudulent email, intended to trick the victim. Rather than
being obviously nefarious, these emails are very realistic.
o Free downloads: Be careful of sites that offer free viewing or
downloading of copyrighted material. Such sites can deliver malware
by exploiting a web browser. Once the web browser is compromised,
additional malware can be queued to download.
o Outdated software: Outdated software is often an easy target for
cyber criminals wanting to gain unauthorized access to a computer.
Therefore, updating all software regularly lowers the chance of a
o Wi-Fi risks: Though legal professionals appreciate the convenience
of mobile computing, mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones,
and portable electronic storage devices pose distinct threats to data
security. Wireless connections are vulnerable and may allow the
interception of your confidential communications. Wi-Fi method is
more commonly used than device-specific malware for stealing data
from laptops and mobile devices.
Remedies for Data Loss and Corruption
Law firms are already bound by a number of different laws and regulations
to address cyber security issues, including the SRA Code of Conduct, the
Legal Services Act, the Data Protection Act, contract, tort law and the law of
o Identify the true URL before clicking: Phishing attacks are not
problematic unless the user clicks on the link to the malicious web
server within the message. Before you click, “hover” your cursor
over the link to see the true URL
o Anti-virus software: An intrusion prevention system such as firewall
or anti-virus software can be used to keep away attackers from
gaining access to your network.
o Encryption: Encryption safeguards data by scrambling it, making it
useless without a password or security token. It is crucial to encrypt
all protected information sent from or stored on any electronic device.
Automated applications such as BoxCryptor, Cloudfogger, SecretSync
or SugarSync can encrypt files at your desktop before they are
transmitted to Cloud storage. The local software encrypts the files
using your encryption key and then sends the documents to your
Cloud storage folder, such as Dropbox. Automated email encryption
provided by ZixCorp can simply attach a file to an email and select
“send encrypted.” Inbound messages from ZixCorp customers are
automatically decrypted and delivered to the lawyer’s normal email
Data Security and Legal Transcription
Lawyers relying on professional legal transcription service providers for
transcribing their legal reports, legal notes and dictation summaries and
court transcripts should also ensure that the provider follows standard
security measures to protect your client data. Before signing up for the
project, ensure that the company uses advanced transcription software and
provides safe file transfer options. Also make sure that the transcriptionists
ensure confidentiality when handling sensitive legal information.