Cybercrime is a widespread phenomenon across the world. It can affect firms and organisations of any size, belonging to any industry or sector. Through carefully coordinated attacks, cybercriminals tend to target vulnerabilities in technology or cause poorly trained staff to make mistakes – both approaches are designed to put businesses at risk.
This has shown to be true for the legal sector too. The National Cyber Security Centre's Legal Threat Report found that 60% of law firms in the UK reported experiencing an attack in 2017; up from 42% in 2013. Cybersecurity concerns amongst legal sector firms are therefore significant and steadily rising.
Cyberattacks on Legal Firms
Recent research by Crowe UK into the cybersecurity risks impacting the top 200 UK law firms indicates that most of the firms surveyed have 'significant unaddressed cyber risks'.
Legal firms tend to be an easy target due to the money and sensitive client data they hold. According to the Risk Outlook 2018/19 report by Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the amount of money law firms are losing to cybercrime is on the rise – with £9.4 million of client money lost in 2016, increasing to £10.7 million in 2017.
With financial loss and reputational damage at risk, it is more important than ever for legal firms to consider and prepare for the threat of cyberattacks.
Key Areas of Concerns
Based on the reported cybercrimes and scams, some of the key areas of concerns that have been identified are:
The Risk Outlook report identifies email modification fraud as the most common type of cybercrime against legal sector firms. 91% of the firms surveyed by Crowe UK have had their website address 'spoofed' and used to send a fraudulent email to obtain confidential information, such as passwords and personal details. Email spoofing increases the risks of exposure to malware and ransomware, and phishing of employees and clients.
The Crowe UK report states that 80.5% of the firms surveyed were running at least one service with a well-known vulnerability. Cybercriminals target these vulnerabilities which could result in data theft, loss of control of the website, and viruses and ransomware programs which encrypt files and demand a ransom in exchange for restoring access.
With many firms reporting a cyberattack in the last two years, firms are also concerned about how to respond to a cyberattack and ensure compliance with regulations. This is particularly true about data breaches and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which came into force on 25 May 2018. A data breach could cost a legal firm thousands of pounds in fines for failure to comply with the GDPR – before and after an attack.
Mitigating the Risks
Prevention is key to ensuring that firms are mitigating the risks and protecting their organisation and employees from the threat of cyberattacks. The two main areas to focus on are:
Investing in technology and securing your firm's IT systems will help you avoid heavy financial loss from the fallout of a cyberattack. Keeping your systems up to date is one of the most effective weapons against cyberattacks. Make sure you have robust and reliable security measures in place and develop information security policies to protect your firm from known and newly discovered vulnerabilities.
Human error is becoming a common factor in cyberattacks on firms and organisations. Whether it is from opening unsafe email attachments, clicking on suspicious website links to downloading unsafe files, employees are often responsible for enabling access to systems. It is down to lack of awareness which often puts employees at risk of making errors in judgement. Educate your workforce on the cybersecurity threats they face and the risks to look out for. By driving a culture of awareness and training employees on the risks they face and how to respond, firms can protect both their employees and their businesses from cyber threats.
Cyber Security Awareness Training
At DeltaNet International, we are firm believers in leveraging the power of awareness training to reduce the impact of cyberattacks. Find out how we can support your firm with a wide range of eLearning solutions dedicated to raising awareness on cybersecurity and information security risks. Visit our website for more information.