Cyber security is now a crucial part of any law office infrastructure, or indeed for anyone working in the legal profession. Why? Not only does
the legal profession look after extremely confidential information. This vital data is stored on the company’s computer systems. Not forgetting, of course, the data belongs to the client, not to you. It is the ethical, and legal responsibility of your company to protect this data. Think about it, when you take on a big case or deal with a corporate client; you will most likely also need to manage large amounts of electronically stored information (ESI). One of the main reasons that data security has become an increasing challenge for law firms to deal with is due to the increase in ESI; the other compelling reason is the rise of the hackers and as such, the elevated risk of cyber-related attacks.
The number of criminal gangs who work as hackers has increased exponentially. It is these groups that target ESI. These super-intelligent, organized groups are also known as crackers, when they are unable to steal data directly from a business, often because of robust and tight security measures, there is generally a “back door” approach to the data they need and guess what? The same data these crooks are trying to get is almost always reachable via the company lawyers or legal firm.
In order to comply with regulations and seriously protect this information, we have outlined 8 data security guidelines for you to implement in your office which will instantly boost your data security levels;
This is about controlling not only who can come in and out of your building, it can also apply to who is able to access certain equipment, as well as data. You can assign different rights and permissions; such as the reading of file, the writing, deleting or copying of files.
Classification of Data
Each and every file, document, and piece of data will receive a classification, depending on the sensitivity of the data. Moreover, there will need to be certain mechanisms in place to accomplish a clearly defined security policy. Read more on Tips for creating a data classification policy.
Assign a Data Security Manager
For something as important as data security for a law firm, a crucial element of success is to have a person who is responsible for the overall policy and as such, someone who is accountable for this.
Ensure Timely Upgrades and Patches
You need to have someone who is IT literate and organized to take full ownership of managing the updates for the business. Purchasing and installing the software is just the beginning. Deploying updates and patches is just as important and will maximize your security performance and capacity, keeping your software effective at all times.
We believe that a great way to manage this within your practice, in an effective way, which won’t take up too much of your time is to use your system tools to their fullest. So if you are a Windows user, this would mean using the Windows Update feature, for MAC using the App Store and for Linux their proper Updates System. These can be configured so that they automatically download and update things on a daily basis.
In any legal firm or law practice, resilience must be high. There will need to be some controlled copies of each document available, should any type of disaster occur. Having a disaster recovery policy in place is also a must have. Imagine having to work without access to your essential data? The data which is replicated will have to be stored on a different server, and most likely in a different location too. This data will also need to be subjected to the same security stamping, and classification. Having an efficient and secure automated backup procedure is mandatory. A great way to do this in the correct manner would be to use Bacula. More information about this can be found here; http://blog.bacula.org
Data at Rest – Encryption
All data documents which are stored in any type of removable media device must be encrypted. If they are to be transferred, then they should be encrypted with a key known by its destination. If the data is not for transfer, the key has to be known only by the lead data security person within the business. Many, many stories have been made public when extremely confidential data has been leaked or lost because of unencrypted, lost USB drives or similar. Don’t let this be you!
Data in Transit – Email Encryption
The emails you exchange, often on a daily basis are plentiful. Trying to ensure complete confidentiality along with data security can be challenging. These are emails between colleagues emails between clients and other organizations; all of which need to be safeguarded. Email encryption can protect your law firm from potential lawsuits, as well as being a sensible and reliable way to ensure that your lawyer-client confidentiality is properly protected. From experience, using PGP identities that work correctly are a simple and secure way of doing this. A great example can be found with Enigmail. More information can be found at https://www.enigmail.net/index.php/en/.
Know Your Network
Controlling your company network by ensuring all devices are registered is also a vital step forwards. Always ensure you know what devices are accessing your network and have strict, guest network policies and guidelines in place. Keep firewalls, the Intrusion Detection System (IDS), and network loggers active and properly configured. Always be aware of all warnings and/or alerts that those systems could generate. Make sure that all of the user’s access to documents are recorded and logged, and always inspect what goes outside of your law office. We have come across so many different tools which can help you to do this, one that we know works well is OSSIM. More information about this can be found here https://www.alienvault.com/products/ossim.
It is always essential to remember that this is not your data, it belongs to your client. It’s your responsibility to protect and secure this information; it is also your duty to make sure that all communications are kept fully secure too. The risks involved in not doing this would be exceptionally troublesome to any company, not to mention costly. Not taking care of the information you hold, and having a data leak could spell ruin for any company involved in the legal industry, it can cause irreparable damage to your reputation, lose you clients; both current and future, and might also bring about a lawsuit.
Recovering from any kind of attack on your data can be challenging. Gaining immediate access to your data, your client documents, and files is crucial to the ongoing success and day-to-day operations of your business. Having a smart, secure and efficient backup system in place, such as SMiD (https://smidcloud.com/solutions) is a compelling prospect. It allows you to store this back-up locally, and in the cloud, and will provide you with a powerful privacy solution that uses local data encryption for data storage, guaranteeing you an elite level of data security. Even if your cloud provider faces a security breach, and this has happened to many well-known companies in this space, your data will be unobtainable, as it sits within that space in an encrypted format. It truly is the only way to effectively, and securily use a cloud storage provider to store your all-important confidential data.
After all, it’s a tough challenge to put a price on reputation. But it’s even more challenging to have to try and operate without access to your data, or to rebuild a law firm’s reputation once the damage has been done.
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