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Are Law Firms Ready For Cybersecurity Risks and Regulatory Compliance Challenges of The 21st Century?

It is a fact that every industry in the 21st century will face cybersecurity risks and regulatory compliance challenges. These challenges exist as a result of the growing complexities of conducting business across multiple domains of technology. For legal firms, overcoming these cybersecurity-related challenges is essential to building trust and integrity. Thus, the differentiating factor rests upon an organization’s ability to equip itself with a cybersecurity framework that accounts for the risks, threats, vulnerabilities, and losses associated with daily business operations.

Every business is making its online presence felt in the rapidly expanding digital world. At the same time, such activities expose a weak organizational cybersecurity posture to a plethora of cybersecurity risk, threats, and vulnerabilities that are capable of disrupting normal business operations. Some cybersecurity threats affecting organizations in the legal industry include phishing, ransomware, data leakage, and legal sanctions stemming from noncompliance with industry and government regulations.

Many legal firms are plagued with a weak cybersecurity posture without even realizing it. Such weak cybersecurity posture paves the way for the exploitation of critical data, such as clients’ personal identifiable information, payment card information, payroll transactions, system configurations, business financial health, etc.

In this article, GoldSky Cybersecurity Professionals will dissect industry challenges and provide countermeasures that will help organizations in the legal industry better defend against cybercriminals while adhering to regulatory compliance.

Emerging Cybersecurity Threats Facing The Legal Industry

Due to the demanding nature of the legal business, lawyers are often required to conduct business via emails, mobile devices, and internet of things (IoT) devices. Therefore, before, during, or after the transactional usage of clients’ sensitive data, malicious actors are capable of intercepting computational sessions to eavesdrop using clever tactics, such as  Man-in-the-Middle (MitM). Recent examples of successful cybersecurity exploitations within the legal industry include the 2017 DLA Piper ransomware attack and the infamous Panama Papers Leak.

Below are some of the cyber-risks that small and medium-sized enterprises in the legal industry are facing in the 21st century:

  • Social Engineering Attacks: as part of a social engineering, tactics such as spear-phishing is employed to entice employees into revealing sensitive or confidential information to unauthorized actors.
  • Leakage of Sensitive Data: inadequate exposure to cybersecurity awareness training and availability of competent cybersecurity resources to defend against the loss or theft of sensitive data.
  • DDoS Attacks: as part of the Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, cyber adversaries cause disruption to web servers by flooding the network irregular traffic.
  • Ransomware Attacks: cybercriminals lock critical files and folders by encrypting them, then force the targets to pay a ransom to release the documents. Failure to adhere to these demands are often met with destruction of infrastructures that are essential to business continuity.
  • Systems Misconfiguration: improper implementation of security controls and lack of skills necessary to detect and remediate vulnerable system errors.
21st Century Regulatory Compliance Challenges Facing The Legal Industry

Receiving Accurate and Complete Information: when conducting business, the type of data collected from clients will determine the level of regulatory compliance that is required. Therefore, ensuring that compliance is met rests upon the accuracy and completeness of information gathered during a business transaction.

Failure to Manage Cybersecurity Resources: small and midsize legal practices find it difficult to discover and manage cybersecurity talent that possess technical and legal knowledge required to decipher the nuances of cybersecurity regulatory compliance. At GoldSky Security, our cybersecurity experts are specialists in industry-specific regulatory compliance frameworks, and are readily available to develop a customized plan to meet unique organizational needs.

Keeping Up With Evolving Regulatory Requirements: legal services rely heavily on knowledge and information, therefore staying abreast with the ever-changing particulars of regulatory compliance frameworks and industry standards, such as GDPR, GBLA, NIST SP-800, HIPAA, etc., is key to successfully conducting business with clients. As privacy and security continue to become an integral concern in society, the cybersecurity industry will continue to experience an increase in new regulations and a barrage of updates to existing ones, and law firms must be able to keep up.

Six Cost-Effective Countermeasures To Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks And Overcome Regulatory Compliance Challenges

Maintaining regulatory compliance is the key to sustainability and growth in business. Interestingly, these compliance require new security solutions and tools to ensure that the privacy and security of clients are assured.

For many small to midsize businesses with limited budgets, certain security controls are non-attainable. However, there are six cost-effective countermeasures that are essential to mitigating cybersecurity risks and overcoming regulatory compliance challenges within the legal industry and they include:

  1. Asset Inventory and Risk Management: maintaining an inventory of the enterprise’s information assets, such as software, data, hardware items like computer terminals, servers, printers, and other smart devices helps to quantify impact and likelihood of risks.
  2. Continuous Evaluation of Security Systems: continuous monitoring and assessment of enterprise information systems and its security controls is key to detecting and patching vulnerabilities before malicious actors uncover them.
  3. Empower the Staff: employees are the first line of defense, therefore it is critical that law firms opt for a customized cybersecurity awareness training program that empowers an employee with the tools and knowledge of best practices to respond to cybersecurity incidents.
  4. Secure data sharing: ensure that sharable files are encrypted during data-at-rest, data-in-transit, or data-in-use. This security mechanism is also necessary during VPN communication to ensure defense-in-depth when operating with clients’
  5. Reliable Data Backup Infrastructure: it is crucial to have a secure and reliable back-up infrastructure in a warm/hot site that is constantly being tested in preparation for a sudden activation. This requires a competent disaster recovery plan.
  6. Effective Cyber-insurance Policy: despite the presence of security controls, cyber incidents will likely occur. Therefore, at GoldSky we advise small and mid-sized firms to have updated cyber-insurance plans available for immediate deployment.
In Closing

There are emerging cybersecurity threats posing unique challenges across diverse business sectors today, and the expertise required to overcome those challenges are lacking within small to midsize enterprises. For evolving industries such as the legal services industry, conducting business with clients’ sensitive data can not be avoided.

As data privacy and security continues to play an integral role in 21st century businesses, industries and governments will continue to establish regulations to ensure that clients are adequately protected during business transactions. Therefore, one of the cybersecurity objectives of an organization must be to ensure the protection of  critical information infrastructures (CII), so as to ascertain a level of cyber-resiliency that is necessary to mitigate the effects of cybersecurity risks and overcome regulatory compliance challenges of the 21st century.

Dear legal professionals, while focusing on core business functions, be sure to consult with cybersecurity experts who are specialized in building resilient business continuity frameworks capable of withstanding unfortunate cyber-incidents in today’s information age.

GoldSky Cyber Security Solutions has offices in Denver, Orlando, Nashville, Washington D.C & Tampa.  GoldSky offers reliable 24/7/365 security solutions to Small & Midsized Law Firms throughout the entire U.S.  Get in touch to learn more on how GoldSky can help your company achieve your cybersecurity goals.

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