Best Data Protection Practices That Can Help a Law Firm
Law firms hold some of the most valuable and sensitive client information globally. Especially when these firms happen to be involved with high-profile individuals. Due to this reason alone, many law firms refuse to integrate the otherwise widely implemented cloud technology.
According to an ABA statistic, by 2018, over 23% of the existing law firms in the US had experienced some sort of data security breach. This percentage has only amplified in the following years.
The growing need for automation mandates the requirement of technological processes. With more existing legal practitioners turning to it, a few best practices can help prevent a massive security breach.
Asses All Existing Security Risks
Before implementing any software security systems, it is of utmost importance to determine any security concerns that a company might have. Verify things such as:
- Outdated technology
- Inadequate third-party software
- Issues with Remote Work Security
- Employee theft
- Ransomware risks
- Unintentional Data Exposure
- Risk of Viruses
- Weak Password Usage
By taking note of these things, a firm will be able to establish any gaps in protection and plan accordingly.
Take Stock of Hardware and Software
When compiling a complete inventory of all hardware and software handled by the company, note and record the following:
- All hardware should be documented, with serial numbers and location. Remember to include computers, cellphones and devices, fax machines, printers, and servers.
- All software should be documented, including licensing numbers and records, version numbers, keys, and passwords.
Schedule frequent updates of all of these records after the initial inventory is done. Maintaining technology security protocol becomes significantly easier when the company works from an up-to-date software and hardware inventory.
Develop a Data Protection Policy
Surprisingly, most security concerns result from simple user oversights rather than technical faults.
Create a clear and convenient data security plan and communicate it with everyone in the company. Educate personnel and enforce policies such as utilizing two-factor authentication for logins or a Bring Your Own Device or BYOD policies for employees who use their own devices and only use applications approved by the company.
Schedule security upgrades and inspections and frequent password changes for all employees. In addition, have an individual or a unit in charge of security and deal with any emerging concerns. It is better to plan ahead of time for potential security breaches.
Train Staff to Manage Security Risks
It is wrong to presume that everyone understands how to detect and prevent security breaches.
Regardless of position, function, or seniority, all personnel must be well-prepared to spot security risks and understand how to respond to them.
Encourage conversations around data security and continue to teach personnel to mitigate unintentional user mishaps. Promote best practices for law firm data protection. Mandate training to be completed at onboarding and regularly thereafter.
Emphasize the Use of Strong Passcodes
No password usage or weak passwords is one of the most prevalent ways data is stolen, accessed, or hacked. Suppose the company’s lawyers and associates fail to use strong passwords, use the same passwords throughout software and systems, or fail to change their passwords regularly. In that case, they are exposing the firm to security risk.
For greater password security, use something complicated and lengthy. Use a password management tool that helps keep passwords secure and makes maintenance easier.
Certain legal technology software includes password policy settings requiring strong passwords to keep company credentials in order. Maintain this across the board for any firm-related software.
Do not neglect this basic yet highly effective strategy. Data breaches are becoming increasingly common as a result of email phishing schemes, in which naïve users click on questionable links, exposing their passwords to hackers.
Look for software that will handle encryption for the company instead of developing new encryption software for the team. Developing new tools is expensive, time-consuming, and not prompt.
Enforce Access Control
IT systems inside a legal firm must always operate with limited access permissions, which means that each employee can only have access to data strictly necessary for their job. Everyone on your team does not need to know everything.
When evaluating authorization allowance to access certain materials, be cautious. Follow the “Principles of Least Privilege” and “Need to Know.”
Hold Regular Reviews
Not taking the time to check the law firm’s data security can cause the firm to ignore existing vulnerabilities. Conduct frequent audits to detect and mitigate issues.
- Ensure former workers no longer have access to legal files.
- Make sure that all devices and software are updated.
- Check that firewall and anti-virus software are functioning correctly.
- Use VPNs for secure access to files across the globe.
- Inspect all communication channels for vulnerabilities and explore ways to reduce them.
- Ensure that the software supplier will benefit the business by thoroughly screening prospective vendors.
Technology has come a long way. It has gone from being a luxury to a necessity. It has its perks, and every industry should be able to access it equally – including legal practices.
The measures mentioned in this piece emphasize the simple yet effective steps that can reduce complications owing to a data security breach in law firms.
Assessing all risks and inventorying all of the software and hardware used by the company helps to remain ahead of any potential data security violations. Further, this information helps develop a Data Protection Policy to be implemented across a firm.
Some ways to avoid falling into the abyss of data security violations include training company personnel on the importance of data security, implementing a firm password policy and encryption, and enforcing access control.
However, the most effective way to ensure data protection is to catch vulnerabilities early by holding regular audits and fixing them. So be proactive and start analyzing and fixing any data security issues today!