Cyber crime is continually evolving and, with criminals finding new ways to beat security software and defences, this means that more and more businesses are falling victim to cyber attacks. One industry that is finding cyber attacks increase is law firms.
In a recent study, it was found that 58% of UK law firms fell victim to at least one cyber attack in the last year and, in our recent blog post, we found that 73 of the top 100 UK law firms have been targeted. Threats to law firms are, unfortunately, on the increase and, even though most are aware of the risks, they’re not always properly protected.
Law firms are at risk from certain cyber threats, so it makes sense for law firms to learn more about the risks potentially involved to keep them, and their client’s data, protected. When it comes to threats to law firms, the breach of data is the biggest concern that legal practices are being confronted with. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 3 of the biggest cyber threats to law firms and how these can be prevented.
The threat of malware is one that has been around for a while and one type in particular – ransomware – is becoming one of the fastest-growing threats to law firms. This type of malware looks to damage, disrupt or gain access to computer systems. As the name suggests, ransomware criminals attempt to blackmail victims by first locking down systems and infiltrating data, then promising only to return access in exchange for money.
The threat to law firms comes from the fact that there will likely be vast amounts of sensitive client data and most criminals know that law firms will likely pay a ransom if it was ensured that this data was recovered. This is because, for law firms, the financial and reputational impact that data loss could have would be much more significant than the ransomware payment.
However, one of the major problems with ransomware, and another posed threat to law firms, is that often when the sum is paid, research suggests that a fifth of affected businesses don’t receive their information or data back. Even if you do manage to recover affected data, often the cost and threat to law firms are still hugely significant. Consequences of a ransomware attack, even when rectified, can still include lost files, a breakdown of client relationships and a significant loss of time trying to fix the issue.
If your cyber recovery plan doesn’t include recovery for ransomware, then we recommend considering this so that you can ensure you can get any data backup live in a matter of minutes, as opposed to your business being down for days at a time. It also helps to reduce the threat to law firms as you can rest assured that sensitive client data is protected and backed up in the event of an attack.
Phishing attacks are amongst the most common type of cyber attacks and almost anyone can be targeted by them. But, one of the threats to law firms with this type of attack comes from the fact that phishing attacks are looking to become more sophisticated and prominent, causing more damage than before. Whilst phishing attacks can be launched using almost any digital avenue, including texts and social media, it was found that around 80% of all cybercrimes imported in 2021 were phishing attacks involving emails, including business email compromise. As an industry which predominantly relies on email, the threat to law firms is very real when it comes to phishing attacks.
With around 320 million emails sent each day (this figure is set to rise to around 375 billion in 2025), it’s not surprising that cyber criminals are looking to use phishing attacks to conduct their attacks, with the potential to reach millions of victims. With law firms placing more and more focus on their IT systems, it’s likely that more sophisticated phishing attacks will take place in the coming years.
It’s important to prepare your law firm against the risk of phishing attacks and, here at CYFOR Secure, we can carry out phishing simulations so that you can closely mimic what might happen and what employees might receive in the event of a phishing attack. This can then help to identify any weaknesses in your business.
Friday Afternoon Fraud
As with all industries, there are more common threats than others. One of the biggest threats to law firms is a cyber attack known as “Friday afternoon fraud”. Although not a new threat, it is one which is becoming more sophisticated. Figures from the SRA show that around 75% of cybercrimes that were reported last year were Friday afternoon fraud attacks, resulting in £85 million worth of claims.
The name Friday afternoon fraud is associated with when conveyancing deals are usually completed. Traditionally, Friday afternoon fraud criminals would pose as clients or the lender over the phone, but they are now more likely to use hacking techniques to gain access to your systems and steal client data, information and money which is usually sitting waiting for completion on Friday afternoons. Criminals would look to gain access to this data by altering the email correspondence between clients and lawyers and then redirecting funds.
In order to avoid this threat to law firms, it’s vital for you to ensure that your computer and network systems are up to date and you have anti-virus and malware software installed and in place. This will keep you protected against this kind of threat to law firms where clients’ money can be lost.
What To Do About These Threats To Law Firms
When it comes to cyber threats to law firms, the effects can be devastating. Realistically, how long could your law firm operate without access to your networks or computer systems? If the answer to that isn’t long, then you should consider implementing a form of cyber security maintenance. At CYFOR Secure, we work with leading law firms to ensure that they are protected against a number of cyber threats. For more information on our services, or to speak to our team about how we can protect against cyber threats to law firms, contact us today!