While the digital era has greatly benefitted lawyers, it has also come at a cost.
After all, barely a day goes by without news breaking about a large data breach or identity hack, including at some high-profile law firms.
In today’s world, where practically everything you do involves a computer no matter the type of law you practice, your private information and that of your clients is constantly at risk. And that means cyber security is more important than ever. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Cyber Security, Anyway?
At its most basic level, the term “cyber security” refers to various methods of protecting and securing your data and computing assets (the devices, networks, and programs you use) from cyberattacks. Cyber security isn’t just about implementing defense technologies, but also making smart decisions when it comes to your use of digital devices. Cyber security is constantly evolving, as attackers get savvier and their activities change in scope.
Why is Cyber Security Important?
Cyber security is important for all lawyers—after all, when your devices are unsecure, you’re putting yourself, your employer, and your clients at risk. Well-known anti-malware software maker Norton AntiVirus buckets the types of known cyber threats into three categories:
- Confidentiality Attacks: These types of attacks focus on stealing personal identifying information or bank or credit card information, largely for the purpose of selling it on the dark web for others to buy and abuse.
- Integrity Attacks: Often called “leaks,” integrity attacks aim to access and release sensitive information for the purpose of affecting the public’s trust in an organization. This type of attack is obviously particularly damaging for law firms.
- Availability Attacks: These attacks aim to prevent users from accessing their own data until they pay a ransom, and can affect both people and businesses. There have even been stories in the news recently of governments paying such ransoms simply in order to be able to operate.
Certainly, you don’t want to fall victim to any of these attacks, and that’s why cyber security is crucial.
Are You Cyber Secure?
Anyone practicing law today is cyber secure—at least to a degree. That’s why our IT departments require us to password protect our computers and email accounts, and why we can’t always access documents from home.
However, almost all of us could benefit from raising our level of cyber security and staying abreast of the latest methods for remaining digitally safe. A good way to gauge your standing is with a quick Google search for cyber security quizzes. They can give you an idea of how you’re faring in the battle to protect your assets and data.
How Can You Increase Your Cyber Security?
Education is key to getting more cyber secure, and many law firms require annual cyber security training for their employees. On top of that, there are a number of simple ways you can improve your efforts to remain secure. Here are the top five:
- Don’t open email attachments if you don’t recognize the email sender.
- Have good password hygiene, which means different passwords for different accounts that aren’t common or easy to figure out and being sure to change them regularly.
- Practice caution on public Wi-Fi networks, which means don’t shop or bank while using networks anyone can access.
- Keep all your software up to date, as cyber attacks are constantly evolving and only the latest software is best equipped to keep up.
- If a link in an email looks suspicious or questionable, don’t click it.
In your personal life, simply avoiding participation in seemingly innocuous online behavior that many people casually engage in will help you. Checking in when you’re at a restaurant, on vacation, or attending a firm event lets people know where you’re not: At home. Keep your location to yourself to avoid a popular tactic used by real-world thieves. Don’t reveal too much personal information online, which can make you an easy target for identify theft and imposter scams. Think of how innocently you could reveal your birthdate, city of birth, and address. Err on the side of keeping as much to yourself as possible, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Over the next week, perform a bit of cyber hygiene to make sure you’re as cyber secure as possible. Change your passwords and update all your software.