Cyber crime threats are ever-changing and ever-increasing. With the amount of private and sensitive information stored by law firms, its little surprise that all law firms are being encouraged to take cyber crime threats more seriously. In fact, there has been a 20% increase in attacks on UK law firms since 2014, with a staggering 73% of the UK top 100 law firms falling victim to attackers in 2015.
Cyber Crime Threats And Law Firms
Law firms are a profitable prospect for cyber security attacks, with large amounts of sensitive information a prime target for ransom, trade, and blackmail. Hacking law firms also gives attackers access to the email addresses and information of clients who could be potential victims of further cyber attacks. In 2015, three Chinese hackers were able to make a $4 million profit from hacking prominent US law firms, demonstrating just how lucrative such an attack can be. This shows that often, not even the biggest firms are doing enough to protect themselves.
A 2016 report by Check Point, a security solutions vendor, found that the use of ransomware, malicious spam, and attacks to the ‘Internet of Things’ increased at a worryingly high rate between July and December of 2016. The ThreatCloud World Cyber Threat Map, developed as a result of the Check Point research, found that the areas listed below are the most common and effective ways in which hackers can gain access to data. However, this list is not exhaustive. Attackers are always developing new technology and new techniques, meaning the importance of staying abreast of these developments is now more important than ever before.
Cyber Crime Threat 1: Ransomware
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks a users access to information until a sum of money is paid for its return. As you can imagine, law firms are a potential gold mine for such attacks, and hackers know this.
Because of its potential for being highly profitable, and its proven effectiveness, ransomware is being developed constantly. There are a number of ways it can enter a system:
- Users visiting unsafe or suspicious websites.
- Opening emails from suspicious or unknown sources.
- Clicking on unknown or unverified links.
- Giving away private information such as usernames, passwords, or memorable words.
All of these things, on the face of it, can be easily avoided, but cyber criminals are always finding new ways to bait users into making mistakes. They are able to create fake websites, fake email addresses, or pose as departments or organisations that may require you to ‘verify’ your information.
Once ransomware has entered your device or network, it can prevent you from accessing data, stop applications from working, or encrypt files. Even upon paying a ransom, however, there is no guarantee that you will regain access to your files, or that the attackers have not copied or removed any information for further use.
Cyber Crime Threat 2: Mal-Spam
This is one way in which viruses such as ransomware can enter a device or network. Malicious spam can contain links to dangerous sites, or can embed viruses in a system just by the email being opened. The type of virus and malware within malicious spam can vary considerably and includes:
- Trojan – Often disguised as legitimate software, Trojans can help cyber criminals spy on the user, gain access to sensitive information, or gain backdoor access to a system. In addition, there are numerous varieties of Trojan software, all of which attack in different ways, but all of which can be easily protected against with the right anti-malware software.
- Computer viruses – These differ from Trojans in that they are able to reproduce and replicate themselves, in the same way a biological virus can. They are therefore able to move from one computer to another throughout a network, without disrupting computer operation. They are often spread through emails and instant messaging attachments, relying on human error to pass from one computer to the next.
- Computer worms – These are much like viruses, with the big difference being that they do not rely on human action to spread from one computer to the next. They are able to use file or information transport systems within your computer in order to move.
- Blended Threat When all of the above are combined, it becomes known as a blended threat; an attack from multiple points to expose multiple vulnerabilities.
Cyber Crime Threat 3: Human Error
This is undoubtedly one of the biggest cyber security threats to any organisation. IBM’s 2014 Cyber Security Index indicated that 95% of all cyber security incidents involved human error in some way. The 2016 report also indicated that the biggest threat to an organisation’s security was insiders, rather than the usual suspects based in faraway places.
Mal-Spam and ransomware can most easily enter a computer system by someone somewhere clicking a link, opening an email, or downloading something, whether intentionally or inadvertently. People are also susceptible to being fooled into giving away information, or to losing devices. Staff are often not properly trained in recognising threats, which when combined with a lack of proper security defences, can prove catastrophic.
Using The Experts To Protect Your Law Firm
Outsourcing your IT security is an effective way to protect your organisation from cyber crime threats. You can continue to focus on your work, safe in the knowledge that all your IT needs are being taken care of by the professionals. We can ensure that your law firm is using reliable anti-malware software and firewalls to prevent against breaches. We will keep them regularly updated and work with you to produce a plan which will outline the procedures that would need to be followed in the unlikely event of a data breach. All security policies and procedures would be regularly evaluated and updated, and protection regularly checked for vulnerabilities.
More information on protecting yourself from cyber crime threats can be found in the government’s Cyber Essentials Scheme. You can also contact us today to find out more about how we can help you against potential cyber crime threats.