Cybersecurity and Small Law Firms: Making Data Protection a Top Priority
While most news reports covering cybersecurity breaches tend to focus on large public companies with household names, small firms—even tiny startups—are every bit as vulnerable to the same forms of digital fraud. In most cases, non-public firms are also subject to the same scrutiny by potential investors, careful clients, and the SEC.
If you’re handling data management and security for a small law firm (as an owner or CIO), you’ve probably given some thought to the central pillars of data protection. These include HIPAA (if your clients handle protected health information), the GDPR (if you deal with partners or clients in the EU) and SOC 2, a must for any small business hoping to gain client confidence and handle data responsibly.
All three of these data security standards require the same basic elements: an alert system in place in the event of a hack or breach, a client notification policy, a clear set of protocols that can monitor who sees what and why, and strong multi-factor authentication that can prevent outsiders from easily accessing company systems.
But even with these standards in place, and even with the approval of auditors and investors, cyber attacks still happen…and they often happen for the same easily preventable reasons.
Here’s a recent report on cyber fraud produced by the SEC that emphasizes what many small-firm IT managers unfortunately already know. Cyber attacks can occur even with strong protocols in place, and many forms of successful digital fraud result from preventable mistakes by company insiders, employees, and trusted vendors.
What to look out for
Phishing, fake emails, and apparently innocent links are surprisingly effective vehicles for digital fraud and cyber assault. And smaller firms tend to be vulnerable to these entry points for understandable reasons. They often don’t have the resources to shield their systems from these attacks. And they can’t or choose not to provide sophisticated or expensive training to groups of employees who are seemingly too small to need them. Simply telling employees to “watch out” for suspicious email isn’t enough.
Scammers often gather in-depth information about vendor-client relationships, including account numbers, and use these to fool authorized employees. Transaction-authorization procedures, when followed improperly, can open the door to third-party access. And fake emails and invoices can be made to appear surprisingly convincing. Simple solutions are available that can shield a system from complex forms of digital fraud, but these solutions require employee cooperation and training.
For more on how to protect your small firm from the inside out—from authentication requirements to employee behavior—contact the team at Exactify.IT. We specialize in protected, reliable IT systems for growing legal firms.