The legal sector is in danger of a surge in cyber-attacks due to the sharp rise in staff using unsecured networks through remote working for law firms over the past couple of years, experts have warned.
In recent years, the legal sector has become increasingly dependent on technology to help people work from home and speed up processes. But law firms are now facing new risks because of this move towards digital transformation, especially when it comes to cyber security.
As more and more lawyers work from home, they have greater access to private client data and sensitive information online. This has created a “perfect storm” for cybercriminals who want to take advantage of weaknesses in the system.
This press release shares information about how cyberattacks are becoming more common for law firms and what lawyers can do to protect themselves.
“90% of law firms view cyber risk as the “biggest threat to future growth ambitions””
Lawyers are increasingly using unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots while working, leaving businesses “extremely vulnerable” to hackers, they fear.
Leading national business group The Federation of Small Business (FSB) and UK cyber security specialist Linten Technologies said the emergence of remote working and the convenience of public networks made cyber-breaches “incredibly simple” to achieve.
“You are never far from an unsecured network – whether at a hotel, café, train station or airport,” says Robert Downes, FSB Development Manager for Greater Manchester.
“Combine that with remote working pushing more law service employees onto unsecured networks, and the concern is businesses across the UK are leaving themselves wide open to cybercrime.
“Many employees just don’t realise just how risky public Wi-Fi access points are, but they are very easily hacked and make using them a no-no. The simple analogy I’ve heard from experts before is that if you found an open bottle of beer on the bar on a night out, you wouldn’t dream of drinking it just because it’s there. The same goes for free Wi-Fi.”
The legal sector is one of the most vulnerable – and targeted – industries for cybercrime through unsecured networks.
According to the 2021 PricewaterhouseCoopers Law Firm survey, 90% of law firms view cyber risk as the “biggest threat to future growth ambitions”, while 48% of Top 100 UK firms expect to reduce their office footprint in the short to medium term.
Meanwhile, the number of worldwide public Wi-Fi hotspots is expected to reach 628 million in 2023.
“The risk to law firms is huge,” says Steven Allan, CEO and founder of Manchester-headquartered IT services provider Linten Technologies.
“With 44% of UK adults believing that public Wi-Fi is ‘safe’, the use of unsecured networks is literally giving cybercriminals the keys to the kingdom.
“A staggering 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. So, the first thing businesses need to do is educate employees about the dangers of unsecured networks.
“We advise our clients that it is safer to hotspot from your phone using mobile data, than join an unsecured network if you’re out and about.
“Another simple security measure to adopt is multifactor authentication (MFA). This is vital for any good cyber security plan, yet only 46% of SMEs have implemented the technology.
“Use a trusted Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. By using a VPN when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, you’ll be encrypting all of your data that passes through the network.
“The cost of being proactive and prepared is significantly cheaper than dealing with the aftermath of an attack.”
Data breaches cost SMEs an average of nearly £3.8m ($4.35m) per incident, according to a recent IBM Data Breach Report.
“Only visit websites with a HTTPS connection as this will ensure that you are browsing on trustworthy and secure website,” Allan added.
“Turn off sharing on your device. This will ensure that the things you usually connect to or share on a secure network aren’t discoverable.
“Ensure you have the relevant security infrastructure in place, such as an antivirus to ensure that you are protected against viruses and malware.”
For more information on cyber security advice, contact www.linten.co.uk
5 of the Most Important Cybersecurity Tips for Law Firms
The expansion of remote working has exposed the legal sector to new cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and law firms must take proactive measures to protect their systems and data. Here are five of the most important steps law firms can take to improve cybersecurity:-
- Limit who has access to sensitive data and systems by implementing strict access restrictions.
- Update software and systems on a regular basis to patch vulnerabilities and keep up with the latest security features.
- Educate employees on cybersecurity best practises, such as identifying and responding to phishing attacks.
- Conduct regular cybersecurity audits and assessments to identify vulnerabilities and improve overall security posture.
- Invest in cyber insurance to defend yourself against cyber threats.
Law firms can lower the risk of cyber attacks and secure their sensitive data and systems by taking implementing these strategies. While there is no way to completely eliminate the risk of cyber attacks, in today’s digital landscape, taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity is critical. And for further reading see our guide to some of the best cybersecurity legal tech providers for law firms in addition to Linten referenced above.