How Data Breaches Impact Your Law Firm

by | Nov 14, 2022

Cybersecurity is of the utmost importance. In an increasingly digital world, data breaches are on the rise. TechRepublic reports that data breaches cost U.S. companies more than $1.2 trillion per year. A data breach can take a frustratingly long time to identify and contain. According to a report from IBM, it takes an average of 277 days for businesses/organizations to identify a data breach.

The legal industry faces heightened risks from cybercriminals. It is imperative that all law firms have a well-designed system in place to prevent, identify, and respond to potential data breaches. At Rize Technologies, we provide reliable cybersecurity services for law firms. In this article, you will find an overview of why data breaches are such a big threat to law firms.

Why is the Legal Sector Targeted By Cyberattackers?

Did you know that the legal industry is often targeted by cybercriminals? Bad actors target law firms for a number of different reasons. To start, law firms often hold sensitive client information. A cyber attacker may believe that this information can be valuable on the black market. Law firms may also be responsible for holding or transferring a significant amount of client funds. Finally, law firms are perceived—not always incorrectly—as being “behind” on cybersecurity. Some cybercriminals view law firms as “soft targets” for data breaches.

Data Breaches Can Lead to Sensitive Client Information Leaks

A data breach is a serious problem for any business or organization. For law firms, it can be an especially alarming issue because it can result in the exposure of sensitive client information. Lawyers and law firms have heightened professional duties to protect the confidentiality of client information. Indeed, under American Bar Association (ABA) Rule 1.6 (Confidentiality of Information), law firms have a duty to prevent the “inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure” of sensitive client information.

Know the Effect of Data Breaches on the Daily Services of Law Firms

A data breach can cause deeper problems than potential professional sanctions for the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive client information. A data breach could directly impair the daily operations of a law firm. In fact, a data breach can lead to a ransomware attack. Simply described, ransomware is a type of cyber attack whereby a user is locked out of their computer accounts and/or computer systems unless they pay ransom to the attacker.

An Overview of Recent Examples of Data Breaches Impacting Businesses

The risk that data breaches pose to law firms is not merely theoretical. Quite the contrary, many law firms—large and small—have been adversely affected by data breaches in recent years. Here are three of the most notable examples of data breaches impacting law firms:

  • DLA Piper Incident: DLA Piper is one of the largest and most prominent law firms in the world. In 2017, it suffered a major data breach. As reported by Forbes Magazine, an international office of the law firm was performing a software upgrade when its system was breached by a cybercriminal. It was a malware attack that cost the law firm millions of dollars and more than 15,000 hours of work to fix.
  • Warden Grier Incident: Warden Grier is a Kansas-based law firm that was breached in 2016. According to a report from Westlaw, this law firm was actually sued by its own insurer for alleged “negligence” in its cybersecurity practices. The incident caused significant problems for the firm.
  • Campbell Conroy & O’Neil P.C. Incident: According to reporting from Security Week, the law firm of Campbell Conroy & O’Neil P.C. was the victim of a ransomware attack. Some sensitive client information was reportedly compromised in the data breach.

What are the Most Common Attack Methods for Law Firm Data Breaches?

How do data breaches actually happen? Bad actors use a number of different strategies to try to take advantage of the vulnerabilities in cybersecurity systems. Some of the most common methods of data breaches for law firms include:

  • Ransomware: Ransomware is a form of malware. In effect, it is a data breach that results in the attacker taking control of and locking the user out of their own system. The attacker then demands a “ransom” payment to restore service.
  • Phishing: Phishing generally involves the sending of a fraudulent message in which the attacker attempts to “trick” a user into exposing his or her credentials or otherwise revealing sensitive information.
  • Software Vulnerabilities: More and more law firms are relying on software. Many cyber attackers are focused on trying to find vulnerabilities in software to breach data.

How Can Law Firms Prevent Data Breaches?

The threat of data breaches can be frustrating to deal with for law firms. That being said, there are proactive, preventative measures that lawyers and law firms can take to protect themselves from the data breach risk. Here are some of the best cybersecurity practices for law firms:

  • Create and Implement a Comprehensive Cybersecurity Plan: Planning matters. Your law firm should develop a comprehensive cybersecurity system to protect sensitive data.
  • Get a Cybersecurity Audit and Conduct Regular Reviews: A cybersecurity audit can help to identify any potential vulnerabilities in your law firm’s existing system.
  • Put Time and Resources Into Training All Attorneys and Staff: Many data breaches occur because of mistakes by attorneys or staff. Training can make a big difference.
  • Ensure that You are Working With the Best Cybersecurity Providers: Law firms do not have to figure out cybersecurity alone. The right providers can help to protect your data.

Rize Technologies is a Leader in Cybersecurity for Law Firms

At Rize Technologies, we offer reliable, comprehensive cybersecurity services specifically designed to meet the needs of law firms. We are partnered with the world’s top cybersecurity providers. If you have any questions about the strategies and systems for preventing data breaches, we can help.  Contact us today to learn more about our cybersecurity services.

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