Currently, businesses of all shapes and sizes are going through a journey of digital transformation, and this includes law firms. Embracing technology means enhancing business efficiency, optimising resources, streamlining processes and, ultimately, perfecting the service provided to customers.

However, introducing new digital tools in order to make the company more effective—without ensuring a secure infrastructure—increases the chances of being targeted by cyberattacks. A recent investigation revealed that 9 out of 10 law firms are at risk of being scammed or having their clients’ confidential data stolen due to substandard IT security. This isn’t surprising, if one considers the amount of sensitive information about employees, stakeholders and clients that these organisations hold; not to mention the personal and business disputes they handle.

What’s even more concerning is how unprepared many legal firms are when it comes to defending themselves from cyber threats: studies show that 81% of these companies are running at least one service with a well-known vulnerability that could be easily exploited by hackers, and 21% have at least one service which uses out of date software, putting them at higher risk of attack.

It’s time for law firms to acknowledge that digital transformation, while bringing significant business benefits, also opens the door to a series of cyberthreats that they must learn to defend themselves from. Here is why it’s important and how it can be done:

The Backlash

It’s rare for any company to survive a cyberattack unscathed—law firms, in particular, can suffer especially unpleasant consequences. First off, the financial damage. The Solicitors Regulation Authority conducted an illuminating study of 40 legal establishments which were victims of cyberattacks over the past three years, finding that £4m of client money was stolen from 23 of them. And while a big chunk of this loss was repaid by insurers, several businesses spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to cover the losses and deal with the impact the events had taken on their workforce. Naturally, the financial repercussions are aggravated by laws, such as the GDPR, which impose hefty fines to companies that fail to be compliant.

Money is not the only thing victims of cyberattacks end up losing. If you had a personal dispute or a high-value deal you needed legal advice with, would you confide in a law firm which was recently hacked, exposing its clients’ private information? We didn’t think so. Damaging the credibility and reputation of trustworthy organisations can be the most devastating consequence of a cyberattack for legal establishments, as it inevitably leads to losing business.

The Solution

Law firms must therefore be mindful of such threats and ensure they have a robust cybersecurity strategy in place. While implementing a sound cybersecurity strategy can feel intimidating due to the varied range of solutions available, law firms can start by implementing basic cybersecurity practices such as patching, network configuration and strong password management. Employees must be trained to regularly update passwords, not share any login credentials with other members of staff – as threats can also come from within the firm – as well as spotting and reporting suspicious activities.

Patch and vulnerability management, application whitelisting, identity management, file protection and ransomware remediation can reinforce the defence against cyberattacks. Managing these tools through a third-party provider allows legal professionals to focus on their cases rather than worrying about IT security threats. For example, Ivanti Patch provides clear visibility of the threats at hand and the patches required, making patch management easy and effective.

Law firms should also work to reduce their attack surface, detect attacks that do get through, and rapidly respond in order to contain the malicious activity.

As the IT landscape becomes increasingly complex, cyberattacks are set to continue to rise. Therefore, firms in the legal space must ensure cybersecurity is a top priority and adopt a layered, back-to-basics approach to security to avoid attacks, and their financial and reputational backlash.