Establishing a Culture of Safety: Ensuring Cybersecurity Policies Lead to Real Data Protection

Law firms have a fiduciary duty to keep their client’s data safe. In today’s ever-evolving world of technology, law firms must implement and rigorously follow specific security measures to effectively secure their data. This is not only an expectation from law firm clients. Cybersecurity insurance providers also have their own exigencies and typically establish policy and audit requirements before granting coverage to law firms. According to a 2023 survey from the International Legal Technology Association and Conversant Group, 75% of respondents believed their law firm was more secure than most other firms. However, the data also shows that law firms are lacking in understanding of cybersecurity best practices and principles, therefore making respondent’s overconfidence unjustifiable. Law firms know they need cybersecurity policies, but written policies are only the starting point. Firms should not assume data is secure simply because policies are in place. Additional steps to ensure security helps law firms minimize downtime and gain a competitive advantage grounded in trustworthiness.

Continue reading for best practices to turn written policy into effective solutions that produce real results.

Create a Culture of Security

Most firms have some level of cybersecurity training incorporated into their onboarding processes. However, for some positions, it’s not a requirement. Requiring all employees to complete training increases

their understanding of common cyber threats and empowers them to take proactive steps when handling company and client data. Firms that regularly promote a security-first mindset by training employees on best security practices, phishing email scams, and other attack techniques are more likely to prevent potential breaches. While cyber attacks become more sophisticated and complex, education is the best way to mitigate the impact of a breach.

Stay Abreast of Current Cybersecurity Insurance Requirements

It is better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to cyber threats. Timely detection and prevention of security incidents mitigates financial losses, reputational damages and legal consequences of breaches.

Due to the growing threat of data breaches, most cybersecurity insurance providers now require certain cybersecurity policies and practices to be implemented and regularly monitored before law firms even qualify for coverage.

While firms should check individual insurance policy requirements, policies most commonly demand that law firms use multifactor authentication on all devices and system logins, train employees on phishing and other types of cyberattacks, use only strong passwords, meet regulatory reporting obligations, and pass a quality assessment of the insured’s incident-response plan and penetration testing. Following these requirements will not only keep your organization protected from threats, but will also ensure you are taken care of should a breach occur.

Go Above and Beyond With Additional Internal Policies

Insurance requirements provide a great baseline, but may only cover the basics. With AI advancements, such as ChatGPT, the expansive use of social media and hybrid and remote-work models, implementing robust and adaptable internal security policies protect confidential case data and sensitive client information. Additionally, cybersecurity insurance requirements are only getting stricter, so it is a good idea to get ahead of the game.

Recommended internal security policies include:

· Robust password policies and authentication protocols

· Secure remote access and data encryption

· Regular software updates and patch management

· Data classification, access control, and retention policies

· Proactive threat hunting

Adding these layers of protection demonstrates a firm’s commitment to protecting client information, thus enhancing client confidence and differentiating the firm from competitors.

Conduct Annual Policy Audits

Conducting annual policy audits ensures routine updates are completed, allows firms to proactively adapt to the latest security threats, and encourages education on the latest industry technology advancements.

Audits will help underscore which policies are useful and effective and which need to be adjusted or overhauled. Law firms without an audit plan are not only putting data at risk, they are also likely incompliant with regulatory requirements. To determine which policies are of highest importance when it comes to auditing, consider the sensitivity of

the data, the number of endpoints, which are the physical devices connected to a network system, and the availability of resources to conduct the audit.

Law firm clients put a significant amount of trust in their attorneys to protect sensitive data. Complying with data protection regulations, legal obligations, and cyber insurance requirements need to be on law firms’ radars. A proactive and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity is critical to remain resilient in the face of change.

Ernesto Negron is Director of Security at Frontline Managed Services