You wouldn’t leave your car windows down while running inside the store to grab OJ—so why would you leave your law firm susceptible to a data breach while you’re out advocating for your client?
Yet most people do…That’s because they’re not sure how to protect themselves.
Preventing a cyber data attack isn’t as easy as locking your computer in the office when you leave for the day, but it is easy…as long as you take the right precautions.
What is a data breach?
It’s hard to defeat an enemy without knowing who they are first. But most people would rather call the “geniuses” at their local electronics store than learn about scary computer stuff.
Lucky for you, data breaches aren’t all that hard to understand—a data breach is the release of private information to people that aren’t supposed to have it, like competitors, hackers, or your friend’s aunt.
Breaches can take many forms (spam, viruses, ransomware) and can happen for all sorts of reasons (personal gain, protest, boredom); but one thing they have in common is that they can lead to some pretty bad and often irreversible, consequences.
Indeed, data breaches cause more than just a loss of data: they can lead to business interruption, costly litigation, regulatory scrutiny, and a loss of trust and goodwill with your clients.
That last one can be fatal to your firm’s viability (how can someone trust you to protect their interests if you can’t even protect their phone number?).
To ensure this doesn’t happen to your personal injury law firm, there are steps you and your staff can take to help prevent cyber attacks (beyond restricting Candy Crush usage).
While no plan is foolproof, the steps outlined below will help to significantly decrease the chance of a breach happening to you…and, trust us, they’re more effective than an apology email after the fact.
Educate your employees
Legal files at a PI firm are like avocado at the store; a lot of people touch them…from veteran paralegals to that summer intern whose dad is very important, okay?
That’s why making sure ALL your staff is well educated on the best security practices, and the damage a breach can pose to your firm is vital.
After all, all it takes is one bad click for your whole firm to be compromised.
Don’t get caught phishing
Phishing may have nothing to do with the awful jam band of a similar name, but its results can be just as bad.
We’ve all been the victim of phishing…don’t believe me? Just check your spam folder. Phishing is the practice of sending out fraudulent emails in order to get people to reveal private info (like passwords).
The best way to prevent a phishing attack is to not click on strange emails. But not everyone is adept at recognizing the weird guy in the internet van; that’s why it’s important to educate your staff on how to identify a stranger danger.
Different roles mean different access
Your firm is composed of many different people in many different roles. Just as the White House cook doesn’t need access to the nuclear codes, not everyone in your firm needs access to all parts of your system.
Limiting access to information limits the possibility of the breach; these safeguards can be achieved by setting up user-based permissions and access controls… after all, everyone can touch the avocado, but not everyone needs the same amount of guacamole.
Law firm security starts with data encryption
Encryption is the process of taking readable text and making it look like gibberish to anyone that’s not supposed to see it. As a matter of strict policy, a law firm should encrypt all confidential information—it’s a simple and effective way of keeping your client’s files out of the wrong hands, and there are lots of security programs that will help encrypt your files for free (or next to nothing).
Be smart about your mobile devices
Mobile electronics, like laptops and phones, are great—they allow lawyers to work (and not work) anywhere they want; however, this type of remote access increases your PI firm’s chances of a data breach.
In addition to encrypting your mobile devices, you should require a two-step authentication (i.e., two sources of ID) for those logging into those devices (pretend like it’s the DMV).
Another hot tip: have your employees change their passwords regularly…duh.
Audit and update
When it comes to potential data breaches, it’s important to be proactive; because if you’re reactive, it means you’re too late.
One way to accomplish this is through audits. An audit is a checkup (usually conducted by an outside party) that makes sure employees are following your firm’s security policies and, more importantly, that those policies are working.
Another thing that should be working for you is your software. That’s why firms should regularly update their systems.
The purpose of software updates is to fix bugs and security glitches in previous versions. By failing to update, you’re basically inviting hackers to RSVP to your firm’s upcoming data breach.
Leave a legacy by joining the cloud
One of the easiest ways to protect your firm from a breach is to use cloud-based technology for your data storage needs.
With legacy-based systems, the onus is on you: you have to house the servers; you have to employ a full-time IT staff, and you have to make sure your systems are constantly up-to-date…that’s a lot of pressure on you to make sure things are right.
Cloud-based systems take the onus off you by streamlining the process. They provide 24/7 support and have the right resources to prevent all types of cyber attacks. And updates happen all the time…you just won’t notice because you’ll be out advocating on behalf of your clients instead of cleaning up a breach.
Not all cloud-based systems are the same, though; make sure to choose one with application-level security, like the CloudLex–the Next-Gen Legal Cloud®. The Legal Cloud® uses a system hosted by tech giants, such as Microsoft, so your firm can stay secure, up-to-date, and worry-free…it’s like having an around-the-clock “data-sitter” for your PI practice.
But before you commit to joining our babysitter’s club, feel free to try us out. We promise to keep your secrets more secure than a 13-year-old that’s made a pinky promise to her BFF.