By now, we are all familiar with the leak of the infamous “Panama Papers”. This leak of 11.5 million files from the database of one of the world’s largest offshore law firms, Mossack Fonseca, made it clear that law firms are not immune from massive data breaches. In fact, in 2016, 40% of law firms had a data breach and were completely unaware of it. So, what can your firm due to prevent a reputation-destroying data breach?

Talk to Your IT Team about Performing Regular Risk Assessments

If you haven’t started thinking about preventative measures to protect your clients’ data, now is the time. In the cyber security world, we know it’s always better to be proactive than reactive. That’s why risk assessments can provide critical information regarding your current risks. When assessing your firm’s risks, it’s important, to be honest with your IT team about any known incidents and gaps in security, so they can provide you with the most accurate evaluation of your infrastructure. The more vulnerabilities you can identify with the team, the better the strategy to reduce or eliminate them in the future. If your current IT team hasn’t done a risk assessment or discussed performing one, it’s time to start the search for a more thorough IT firm.

Educate Your Team on Risk and their Responsibility

Many law firms put their clients at risk simply by not educating their team on the dangers of suspicious emails known as phishing attacks. These emails will typically look like they are coming from a trusted source like Facebook, Google, or a trusted bank. Unbeknownst to the recipient, the link they click on could make their entire organization victim to a cyber-attack. To prevent phishing and other attacks, proactive law firms have started requiring cyber security training for their employees, two-factor authentications for log-ins, and password managers. Increasing your team’s awareness is your first line of defense against data breaches.

Regularly Check for Patches and Have a Response Plan

When assessing your current risks, it’s critical that your IT team be diligent and consistent with security software updates and patching. Patching will fix vulnerabilities and any other bugs in a current security software. Since software updates typically don’t occur on an everyday basis, it’s important that your team is working to find any bugs between updated software releases. In addition, your IT team needs to have a comprehensive plan in place in the event of a security breach. If your current IT professional deems their security initiatives as enough of a plan, find someone willing to take a proactive approach. It’s important to remember that no security plan is invincible and without a recovery plan in place, it may be too late to repair the damage done.

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I'm currently a junior at Rutgers University, majoring in Human Resources with a minor in Music. My love for music has already led me to an associates degree in Music from Raritan Valley Community College.