Cyber Security for Law Firms | 19 Free Tips (2021 UK Guide)

Lawyers are traditionally not the biggest fans of having to meddle with their computers. Although every all law firms recognise the importance of cyber security… no one likes to have an IT person mess with their computer for too long. So to PREVENT a complete computer shutdown and more importantly, to PROTECT law firms from cyber security ramifications we have collected cyber security services tips for UK law firms to cover their backs.

cyber security for law firms

1: Keep your passwords safe

Having a long password with numbers and symbols seems obvious now since almost all websites require it. The challenge is they become hard to remember. So it might be worth considering investing in a password manager. Password managers will keep all of your passwords safe in one place. All you need to remember is one password to enter your password manager. Then you can copy/paste or even get your password manager to auto-fill the password you need in any given moment.

You can even use a free password manager like Avira (available here).

2: Invest in antivirus software

Everybody knows they need antivirus software installed on their computer. But many are lax about it. Many tech experts even recommend that you have two antivirus software programs running at the same time, one from a well-known company and the other from a lesser known firm. The second one will be more likely to pick up anything that your main program misses.

You should install antivirus on all of your devices. Avast antivirus is perhaps the best free option of an antivirus available (available here).

3: Have a firewall

A firewall is like an iron fence around your computer. Anybody trying to get in will trigger the security system and alert you right away.

You can install a free one such as Comodo Firewall (available here). There are other paid versions available too which offer more protection, but at least getting some protection for free is better than not having one at all.

cyber security for law firms

4: Check for software updates

Always make sure that your computers are regularly getting updates from Microsoft and other software developers. If a problem comes up, then you will be able to work around it as soon as possible with an update installed on your PC.

5: Ex-employees can be a cyber security threat to your law firm

Do you know exactly what information is on each of the computers in your firm? Are there backups or records elsewhere as well? When was the last time an IT team member checked out a computer before returning it with new software installed, for example?

You should be aware of what data is on each device and where it is stored. If an employee leaves, they could take information with them which really shouldn’t have been shared in the first place. Make sure you deactivate and remove any access to ex-employees immediately.

6: Have a regular IT management plan

Certain obligations should be met on a regular basis by your IT team. Maybe once every quarter or perhaps even more often, depending on the size of your firm. 

The obligations should include an attempt to your hack your own IT network. This is called a penetration test. The results measure how protect you would be if a real hacker tried to enter your system.

We offer penetration tests along with a range of other cyber security services (more are available here).

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7: Update the Firmware on your devices

Like software updates, you will find your devices have firmware updates. Firmware updates carry the same benefits and security risks (if they are not updated). We recommend you turn on any automatic firmware updates so you don’t lose track of them. Also it could be worth making it the responsibility of one staff member to send reminders and verify that all company devices have the latest firmware. You can check firmware updates usually by accessing the settings of the device.

8: Make use of two-factor authentication

Only using a username and password to access your computer is prehistoric. Two-factor authentication will make it much harder for hackers to get into your account by making them use another item you own as well, such as your cellphone or key card in order to get through.

9: Take a look at who’s trying to login to your law firm accounts

If you have a problem, start to solve it by looking at the basic things first. Take a look at your server logs and check for strange behaviour that could indicate someone trying to break in or an existing vulnerability being exploited. Strange behaviour might appear in the form of a log in from a country where you have no staff, or a log in at a strange hour in the night.

10: Don’t ignore the human element – educate your employees on cyber security for law firms

It’s great that you care about cyber security, but don’t believe that just because you have put in place some basic measures that it will be enough to keep hackers out. 

The weakest link in the chain is always a human being. 

A lot of cyber security breaches are the result of human error. You might accidentally click on an email offering free vouchers. Or maybe you didn’t close a tab in your browser properly or you left an unknown file open on your computer without thinking about it further.

11: Don’t try to be too clever

You might install encryption software on your devices and store information in the cloud, but that doesn’t mean you have to be clever about it. You can severely damage your system if you try to do things that are too complex for a layman. For example, there is a difference between uploading files and sending them as attachments in an email. The first will encrypt the file on your device while the second means only the recipient’s computer will decrypt the information.

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12: Get a good IT support team in place

A very important security measure, especially if you aren’t up to scratch on the latest updates and technical improvements that are happening right now. Your IT firm should be able to identify any problems long before they manifest themselves as hacks which could affect your business’s reputation with clients or customers.

We are always available to discuss your cyber security options (contact us here).

13: Use popular software

Firms frequently use outdated or proprietary versions of programs and other software because they are cheaper. It can be tempting to save cash when you have a tight budget, but it’s safer to use well-known packages such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat. Older, discontinued software is more likely to contain security holes which can be exploited by hackers.

14: Don’t be stubborn when it comes to new technology

Hackers are always developing new ways of exploiting vulnerabilities and you need to make sure your firm is up to date with developments. Some firms refuse to give employees mobile devices, for example, because they want them focused on more important tasks. The reality is that if everyone else has a tablet or smartphone, it’s only a matter of time before hackers use them to access data.

15: Know what you are doing when it comes to wireless networks

As information becomes increasingly mobile, many firms now offer free access to their Wi-Fi service. This can be a great way to attract clients and customers as well as saving money on internet bills, but if you aren’t careful it can also be a huge security risk. Make sure your IT team knows which wireless networks to put on lockdown and take all the necessary precautions like encryption.

16: Lock down your ports

Whilst countries have ports for their ships to export goods. The same ports can have ships entering the country to bring in goods. Or sometimes smuggle illegal goods.

Your computers access the internet through “ports”. What you don’t want is smugglers from the internet accessing your computer through these ports. That’s why locking your ports is important.

cyber security for law firms

17: Backup all your data onto something physical 

If you have a problem accessing your data, make sure you can recover it quickly and easily by investing in some old-fashioned technology like disks and tapes. Keep them in a safe but accessible place so you can always get to your data when it’s needed

18: Make sure your cyber security measures protect your law firm

Most firms rely on one single line of defence such as a firewall. In reality they should be using different systems to keep hackers out. For example, make sure your security policies cover both physical and virtual restrictions and use firewalls alongside antivirus software. 

What we are talking about is essentially combining all of the tips we have discussed. Cyber security companies like us can put in place clear and robust policies to protect your work. 

19: Know exactly who needs accounts with extra power

Many employees at companies will have unnecessary Administrator accounts on their devices which are much more vulnerable to being hacked. In fact one of the common ways of hackers infiltrate a company is by exploiting the user that has the power to make changes to other users. Make sure only staff members that really need Administrator access have it and that they know how to use it safely.

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