Cyber security Toolkit for Lawyers.

Written by Elizabeth Layeni

January 20, 2021

Law firms can be said to be among the juiciest of honeypots for hackers, given the confidential and privileged information and datasets lawyers come in contact with. Clients turn over their most valuable information to their lawyers under the auspices of attorney-client privilege. It is necessary that practitioners educate themselves in cyber security due to the reliance and use of technology in the legal sector. Lawyers now need to understand how cyber-attacks occur and how to protect themselves against them. Failure to take appropriate steps in this regard exposes a lawyer to the risk of breaching professional obligations. In legal practice, the duty of client confidentiality is paramount and must be considered in all activities. Simply put, client confidentiality should be the overreaching consideration that informs any workplace or lawyer’s a decisions/activities.

A successful cyber-attack may have severe consequences for lawyers and law firms alike:

  • Theft of corporate, and financial information
  • Destroying and rendering client data useless by irreversible encryption
  • Ruined reputation of the law firm/lawyer concerned, among other things 

Cyber security toolkits consist of effective tools that organizations, of any size, can use to take action to reduce cyber risks. The NDPR (Nigerian Data Protection Regulation) requires organizations to implement appropriate measures to protect personal data. Otherwise, there’s a risk of substantial fines. 

An essential cyber security toolkit would include, but not limited to the following:

  1. Use strong usernames and passwords
  • Make sure that all users have individual accounts
  • Enforce strong passwords, minimum of 15 characters with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols
  • Have passwords changed on a regular basis
  1. Install Anti-virus and malware protection 
  • Purchase business grade anti-virus and email filtering. Don’t use free versions (some freemium services could be limiting)
  • Update the software regularly
  • Have it installed and monitored by a professional
  1. Limited access to systems and files
  • Only allow screened persons to view your data
  • Limit access to important files to employees on a need-to-know basis 
  • Monitor access to sensitive client information
  1. Regular back-up of data
  • Regularly back-up all data
  • Use both on-site and off-site back-up facilities
  • Ensure that you can easily access back-up data and restore it to your main system
  1. Encrypt data
  • Encrypt your data where possible. Encryption is another security layer that is extremely secure
  • Encrypt portal devices such as laptops and hard drives. Encrypted data is more difficult to hack
  1. Keep the system software up-to-date
  • Keep system software up-to-date. Older system software such as operating systems may have fundamental security flaws which are remedied through software patches(fixes)
  • Keep all your system software patched. Install updates on a regular basis and upgrade your software regularly to ensure that you are protected from vulnerabilities
  1. Protect all devices 
  • Be sure to protect all devices that access the practice’s system including laptops, mobile phones and tablets. Consider installing software allowing remote erasure of data in the event of theft or loss
  1. Training
  • Ensure all personnel are fully trained in cyber security measures. Many cyber-attack are successful because a staffer was not vigilant
  1. Insurance
  • Make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance to cover you against cyber-attacks 
  1. Audit your service providers 
  • The firm’s IT service provider and/or cloud service provider should also take the same precaution enunciated above

Still not convinced?

The aim of cyber security tool kits is to ensure that the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of client’s data are preserved. The increased use of technology in organizational processes has exposed people to cyber threats and attacks. With every improvement in technology, the threat of cyber-attacks increases. Having a tool kit will help create some level of cyber resilience for lawyers. It has become necessary for lawyers to be aware of the cyber risks they may face and develop a security plan to address those risks all together, as you can never be too careful with your client’s data.

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