To ensure continued service to clients and overall profitability, legal firms must remain operational and available for representation – which means IT systems must remain up. But this is easier said than done. Apart from weather-related disasters, unexpected power outages and human error, a wider gamut of events have emerged that could take firms offline – namely the threat of cybersecurity incidents.
In Cisco’s 2015 Annual Security Report, law firms ranked as the seventh most vulnerable business sector to cyber attacks. Just look at the recent news of three hackers who breached a law firm and used confidential merger and acquisition information to make $4 million in profits. Cybercriminals continue to make a living by targeting industries that rely heavily upon confidential and crucial information (such as intellectual property), and this trend makes legal firms a perfect target.
As a result, security for data should be a business-driven decision. After all, the purpose of a legal IT department is to serve the needs of its partners. With this goal in mind, here are three initiatives that, if implemented, will directly improve the ability for partners to serve clients and drive profitability back to the firm.
- Fully Protect Digital Assets
It is the responsibility of legal IT professionals to perform an analysis of current practices to improve security measures. A well-planned disaster recovery (DR) plan should be a component of your overall security strategy, since it helps small or large practices and individual practitioners protect their valuable data from cybercriminals.
The legal industry is extremely complex, which makes it difficult to implement a one-size-fits-all approach to DR. Yet, there are two solutions that are essential to any successful DR strategy: physical copy backups for long-term storage and frequently-performed replication to a cloud environment for a faster recovery time. A mixed approach, utilizing both backup and replication-based DR solutions, is often the best way to protect a law firm, since these solutions complement each other’s strengths for a comprehensive incident response that’s fast and effective.
- Consistently and Proactively Assess Security Risks
Go beyond the general maintenance of IT environments like firewalls and patching. Be sure to encrypt your data in transit and at-rest, and educate your firm’s staff on how to recognize suspicious requests or activity. The majority of intrusions occur because someone has inadvertently granted cybercriminals access to their systems.
Don’t forget about your DR environments too. Cybercriminals have been known to view DR as low hanging fruit since these solutions tend to receive less attention. For this reason, the security in place for a DR environment should be as good as production, especially since it will become your production if a disaster strikes. Test your DR plans consistently for a clear understanding of what security needs are lacking.
- Enlist a Third-Party Expert for Assistance
In a recent 2016 survey from ALM and Bluelock, 69% of legal IT professionals considered “data security” as their largest challenge for their firms’ IT operations. It’s for good reason that firms are giving increased attention to the protection of their operations, but still firms aren’t truly committing to their risk mitigation. The same survey revealed that “tight budgets” (59%) and “overwhelmed IT teams” (40%) were next in line for the top challenges faced by IT operations, which means that even if IT teams recognize the actions that must be done to protect their firms, they still lack the resources to perform these actions.
Increasing the necessary resources to mitigate risks doesn’t always need to mean you must increase IT department spending. It doesn’t even mean that you need to drastically reinvent what you’re already doing. Law firms strapped for resources can easily enlist a trusted third-party provider of Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service (DRaaS) to act as an extension of their IT team. With experts handling the ins-and-outs of security and data protection, your firm’s IT personnel can tackle other meaningful projects that drive more direct value to your law firm.
Contact Bluelock, a leading expert in DRaaS trusted within the legal industry, to learn more about how we can empower your firm. We offer a range of recovery solutions and services to match even the most complex IT environments and needs.