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The importance of data security for every law firm



In today’s world, internet has creeped itself in most of the tasks performed by us. Our online presence has also increased many times fold. Today, a customer’s online presence is not just limited to buying or selling of products, but also to store crucial information and other data. This comes out to be a prime concern when we speak about data security attacks. Industries such as the legal sphere, which stores large amount of delicate information about people, IP and more, are a much more ideal target for criminals in search of exploitable data and files. Due to this reason, it becomes essential for legal professionals to stay top of the latest security measures.


Among the various trends that we have studied for, which firms should follow in 2023, data security has topped the list. A statistics regarding U.S. businesses read that data breaches climbed by an annual average of 15.1% in 2021, which had cost these businesses more than $6.9 billion. If we compare this stats to 2017, there has been a high increase in the data breaches, as earlier, the loss was accounted just for $1.4 billion. With the ongoing digital transformation across the industry, we can only expect this situation to get worse. Businesses in every sphere, have now become more reliant on digital tools, which have also increased potential risks of ransomware, malware, third-party attacks, insider threats, jacking and much more. The cost of cybercrime is already anticipated to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, with businesses also realising the need to prioritize the security of their data and the solutions which they can employ to mitigate it.


While cybersecurity is an essential theme for all classes or sectors of business, it finds much importance in the legal industry. In comparison to the finance or education sector, the legal sector also holds much crucial information based on the public’s day-to-day lives. This may include their names, contacts, financial information and documents, address, health history, and other records. Moreover, lawyers often handle cases involving Intellectual Property, which requireto remain confidential, in order to protect their clients. All in all, law firms handle incredibly sensitive information, making them vulnerable to cyberattacks.

If we go in detail into such data breaches, then it is evident that law firms of smaller or medium size are much more prone to such attacks, provided their inability to devote to a robust security system. Along with this, several analysts have held that among various sectors, the legal is particularly at risk to suffer security incidents because of their negligence in taking necessary steps to secure their data. One can attribute lack of training, lack of policies or failure in investing new technology as the reason for falling prone to these data breaches.


Now that we have established the need for law firms to invest in cybersecurity, there are other multiple reasons too, due to which firms employ efficient and effective data security practices on an instant basis. Below are some notable considerations for legal professionals assessing their strategies.

  1. Lets just put it out there, with the change in digital landscape across the industry, law firms have started paying attention to the way they manage their data. These firms have also made it a priority to check in with their vendors that the requirements for data security are being met. Cases where such standards are not met, is leading to fines and other termination of the contract. The industry landscape is changing so much that businesses are also requiring their vendors to demonstrate proof of compliance. This implies that law firms will now need to prove that the data they are withholding is secure.

  2. Lawyers are governed by a number of legal and ethical principles. If these principles are not followed, they can result in fines, penalties and other disciplinary actions. For law firms, it is important to be aware of the data privacy regulation that are applied in their regions. Apart from this, general laws of other states should also be made aware to them. For instance, in the U.S., many states have their own general laws on data privacy, for instance the CCPA also known as the California Consumer Privacy Act, the VCDPA, which stands for the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act and more. These rules specify the protection of consumer data while also notifying the impacted parties, whenever a data breach is made.

  3. A report stated that 55% of people from the United States were of a firm belief that they would be less likely to work with a company with a history of data breaches. With that, we can understand that today’s consumer is well aware of the risk of cyberattacks. While proceeding with any business, potential clients look for those firms who can keep their data secure. In such cases, if lawyers want to win new clients and maintain the trust of their current clients, they will have to show that their firm is taking cybersecurity seriously. Such practice is more important when considering client attraction, since a new or potential client will be more willing to learn how their data will be used and what the firm will do to keep it secure.

  4. According to a research, in over nine out of ten cases, an external attacker can break through an organization’s network perimeter and obtain access to local network resources. Also, the average time which would take to breach these internal assets is just two days. Well, with this we are certain that the defence system which we used few years back will no longer find use in securing the data today. Risks in the legal sector are growing, in a direct proportion to the advancement in technology. These threats have now gotten craftier than ever, not to mention increasingly effective and efficient. As these risks continue to increase and evolve, it is important for law firms to stay ahead in the game of data security. This also means that law firms should assess their security systems and implement strategies to protect against any potential threats.

It is evident that the legal profession needs to take immediate action to protect the data they hold. For this, they can employ various strategies, including verifying requests for changes whenever handling any sensitive information. Most importantly, lawyers and other legal professionals should be trained to think critically before clicking on links or downloading content from any unknown source. When lawyers and other such professionals will be able to understand the risks that come along with this industry, they can take proactive steps to mitigate them.

 

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