As of 2019, around 48 percent of the UK’s top 150 law firms had reported a data breach. Out of those breaches, about 41% occurred as a result of emailing the wrong person.
You collect private information from your clients and honor attorney-client privilege, but these statistics suggest more needs to be done to protect their data from threats. Here’s what to do after a data breach at your law firm and how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Employ adequate security measures
The first step for protecting your clients’ data is to establish a firm security policy. Create a straightforward plan to ensure compliance across your entire team. As most breaches are caused by human error, educating your staff is an essential first step for keeping data safe.
Some steps in your security plan should include encrypting all emails and files. End-to-end encryption ensures data is converted into a code that only the intended recipient can decrypt. Enforce rules for employees to use strong passwords or biometrics for their work systems and accounts. If using traditional passwords, change them regularly to maximize security efforts.
Stay up to date
It is crucial that anti-malware programs are installed on all devices across your firm to avoid the harm malicious software can cause. You will also want to ensure this software is up to date to stay ahead of evolving security threats. Make this easier by automating software updates so you and your staff don’t have to spend time manually initiating them.
You will also want to ensure your security plan stays updated over time. These threats change quickly, so conducting regular security audits and refreshing your protocols is a critical way to avoid a breach.
Stop a breach when detected
Once you discover that there’s been a breach, you will want to do everything you can to prevent further damage. Start by removing client data from your stores and changing passwords for all accounts across your firm.
You will also want to pinpoint how and where the breach occurred, and which information was compromised. If social security numbers, credit card information, and other sensitive data were affected, clients need to know so they can contact the appropriate entities to avoid identity theft.
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Inform clients if a breach has occurred
If your firm has experienced a data breach, you are required by law to notify your clients. Contact them after you become aware of the incident and keep them updated as the situation develops. From there, you can make sure they know the appropriate actions to take to protect themselves from further damage.
Preventing data breaches for your law firm
Now that you know what to do before and after a data breach at a law firm, you can see that prevention is the preferable approach. From file and email encryption to stronger passwords, multi-factor authentication, and staff training on how to spot phishing and ransomware attacks, there are many simple ways to prevent the worst from happening. This all enables you to better serve your clients and keep their data - and your business - safe.
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