Prevention of Data Theft in Law Firms

In recent years, there has been a tremendous increase in the espionage and hacking of law firms, costing various resources to the victims. According to ABC News, in the year 2009, American firms lost a whooping $50 billion just because of cyber espionage. Hence, cyber threat is considered to top the list of threats in every country and law firms have started to become attractive targets to cybercriminals. The uncertainties faced by law firms continue to grow due to various reasons. Firstly, intruders are usually attracted by the quality and quantity of documents and files that are present in law firms, which typically are inclusive of business strategies, investment plans, technical secrets and their descriptions, positions of negotiations, and also various other materials on mergers and acquisitions, transactions, and financing.

Secondly, law firms generally happen to have poor procedures for data security when compared to their clients. Though the information may come from an extremely secure client organization, when it reaches the law firm, it does not have enough security as it did in the client office. Finally, cybercriminals or intruders happen to target law firms, as those usually contain materials that are of low value. This is because; large business organizations generally have so much of digital data, which would make it difficult for the intruders to search for what they are looking for. However, the organization’s counsel will be sent all the relevant and important documents, which therefore becomes an easy target to intruders.

Impediments to Data Security in Legal Firms

Securing your valuable data is a difficult task to master. The problems that underlie data security are numerous. In addition to certain conventional issues associated with data security, following are some of the additional challenges encountered by law firms when it comes to protecting valuable data and acquiring better data security:

  • Obscurity of data theft: One of the major challenges faced by law firms and legal professionals when it comes to enhancing cyber security is the fact that most computer data that are being stolen remain invisible or obscure in the real world. When you happen to lose a physical item, its absence can be noticed easily. However, when your valuable data are stolen, which is usually done by copying, you will not really notice it as you will still possess the original copy of the data. In such ways, the obscurity of data theft carries numerous adverse implications. The detection of data theft becomes difficult.

When a law firm gets victimized for such data theft, it conceals itself, not reporting of the cyber attack it has encountered. In addition, it will also take steps to keep employees, attorneys, and clients ignorant of what had happened, making it even more difficult to carry out reformatory measures. Also, it leads to the prevention of information sharing throughout the industry, which when done might serve as an act to warn prospective victims or give rise to enhancements in current defensive procedures. Law firms usually hesitate to report their victimization to cyber attacks because it may lead to reduced client confidence, damage of its reputation, possibility for legal liability, lost business, etc.

  • Contradistinctive motivation: Contradistinctive or differential motivation in protecting the data happens when the custody of the data is held by one party, but the impact of losing the data will be faced by a different party. The right line up of motivation will be extremely advantageous when it comes to securing the data. Law firms usually have contradistinctive motivation to protecting their clients’ data. This is because it is the client who is sharing crucial data, like their plan for a future acquisition, information about an ostensible crime, socially impaired married life, etc., which will usually be of extreme importance to the client, but would be just a regular work to the law firm. When such data are lost, the greater damage would be to the client and not to the attorney or the law firm, which results in differential or contradistinctive motivation, as mentioned before.
  • Inconvenience and high cost of security: Maintaining strong security practices or procedures to prevent data theft is definitely a hassle. Common security procedures like selecting passwords for your different online accounts and having to remember each of those passwords, and encrypting your important files with unintuitive and long key phrases always tend to be a hurdle. Also, you cannot be so sure of your data’s security when you transfer it by way of email, and hence you will have to choose a better and secure method to do the same. As business organizations have started to implement data security procedures, cybercriminals or intruders have started to focus on the law firms that guide those organizations in various aspects, which usually contain all the crucial data of those organizations but with much lesser security measures. Also, if the law firm representing an organization is of much lesser size than that of the organization itself, then it may lack all the necessary resources to maintain the security of the organization’s crucial business data.

Evolution of Backup Devices

Cybercriminals have detected some of the biggest treasures in law firms, which happen to comprise of intellectual property, critical business information, and even certain national secrets stored by them. These intruders have established highly focused and specialized methods to attack both individual attorneys as well as law firms. They do this to capture sensitive and confidential legal information either to ransom the owners of the data or to sell the information online. Whatever may be the reason for such cyber attacks, it is the responsibility of the attorneys and law firms to start moving all their files and documents to the cloud in order to avoid such adverse data loss.

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