Did you know there is a cyber attack every 39 seconds? And hackers often target companies that want to access large customer databases that serve as a treasure trove of personal information.
As a legal practitioner, you are subject to some of the highest standards for customer confidentiality. This means that you are obliged to do everything in your power to keep your customers’ personal information safe. Not to mention, cyberattacks against your law firm can be costly, especially if they result in business downtime, payments to ransomware attackers, and lawsuits and fines against your law firm.
To help protect your clients, yourself, and your law firm, here are 10 data security best practices that you should start implementing today.
1. Create strong passwords and keep them private
The best rule of thumb is: Create long, complex passwords that use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using words associated with your law firm name or any other obvious information about yourself (your name, date of birth, etc.). You should also avoid using passwords that are the same or similar to passwords on your other accounts, as this can increase your vulnerability to hacking. For more tips on creating a strong password, check out this Avast blog post.
It’s wise too Invest in password management software This allows you to store your credentials for your various accounts in one safe place that you can access with a single password. This way you can keep your passwords unique (maximizing your security and reducing your risk) without having to remember each one.
And finally, three more tips that you should consider for optimal password protection:
- NEVER Share your password with someone.
- Do not save or send passwords or sensitive information via email unless you are using an encryption program.
- Make sure you change your passwords regularly – ideally every 90 to 120 days.
2. Use two-factor authentication
You can set up two-factor authentication in many digital systems and programs. This will require you to provide additional proof that you are who you say you are when you log into your account. For example, you may be asked to enter a code sent to you via text or email, answer a security question, or even provide biometric information like your fingerprint or facial recognition on your phone.
If you ever have the option to set up two-factor authentication, make sure you do. Hackers now have advanced password cracking techniques and technologies. Therefore, an extra layer of security is critical.
3. Detect and avoid phishing scams
A phishing scam occurs when someone poses as a trusted source, e.g. B. a company you do business with to trick you into giving out personal information like credit card information, your password, or your social security number. The hacker may send an email or text asking you to submit or confirm your personal information (e.g., “Your password is about to expire. Use the link below to reset it.”) .
Always play it safe and assume that such messages are scams. DO NOT click the link. Instead, contact your service provider directly to confirm that they actually sent the communication. If you don’t want to call, go directly to the company’s URL or app to log into your account and look for communication there. If you suspect that you have been involved in a fraud, delete the email or text and report the incident to your provider.
One trick is to pay close attention to the email address that the communication was sent from. Make sure the email domain (the part after the @ symbol) matches that of your provider. You should also hover over the email address and any embedded links to see the true source. Read about some of the most common types of phishing scams and how to spot them.
4. Always use a VPN if you have public WiFi
When it comes to internet connectivity, the least secure of your data is when connected to public wifi so you can connect to the internet for free. Public WiFi is usually available in places like airports, coffee shops, restaurants, courthouses, etc. These “hotspots” tend to be less secure, so that other people can easily intercept the personal data you transfer while the WLAN connection is in progress. These are known as “man-in-the-middle” attacks. Hackers can also set up “rogue access points” that appear as legitimate networks so that they can spy on a user’s online activities.
When accessing the internet remotely, it is best to access the internet through a virtual private network or VPN. A VPN allows you to create a private network over a public internet connection and provide encryption that can help protect your online activities from unwanted snoopers.
If at any time you need to work on public WiFi without a VPN, you shouldn’t display or transmit any private or personal information that you don’t want others to access (e.g. your passwords, social security number, credit card information, customer information, etc.). It is also helpful to set up your devices so that they don’t automatically connect to Wi-Fi and only visit websites that have HTTPS in the URL, as those websites use higher standards of encryption and authentication.
5. Use a firewall and an anti-virus program
It might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people overlook this important step: Make sure you have a reliable firewall and antivirus program installed so that you can protect your practices from viruses, malware, and spyware. Sign up for auto-renewal so you don’t get stuck with security breaches.
6. Install operating system updates
It is easy to get used to clicking “Remind me later” when you see an update reminder for your operating system. However, If you prolong the update process, you are at greater risk because updates often contain fixes for bugs and other problems that could contain security holes. Make sure your operating system and other programs are always up to date to ensure the highest level of security protection.
7. Close all online services that you no longer use
Abandoned accounts are easy targets for cyber criminals because it is easier for illegal activity to go undetected. Make sure you regularly monitor all of your online accounts Close any accounts that you no longer want to use So you’re not protecting your business from a potential security threat.
8. Back up your data in the cloud
While this is not necessarily a defense tactic against cyberattacks, it is crucial for the stability and continuity of your practice … Always back up your customer and business data using cloud-based storage so you don’t run the risk of losing important information. Do not rely on hardware as it can crash at any time. You should also have encryption in place on all of your devices to ensure that the data is not compromised during the transfer and storage process.
9. Train your employees
The security of your company is only as strong as its weakest link. Educate all employees on the latest cybersecurity best practices and put in place policies to ensure compliance (e.g., requiring employees to use two-factor authentication, using lock screens on their mobile devices that contain corporate data, etc.).
Taking action now can save you the serious effects of a data breach or cybercrime. Protect your customers and your company proactively!