Nearly 40% of businesses have been attacked by ransomware, one of the most common types of malware, according to recent research. This shows just how serious the threat is to modern businesses from the rise in malware and, unfortunately, law firms are no exception.

Although malware is a problem for all businesses, there are specific threats from malware for lawyers to be aware of. Knowing the most common types of malware and how to protect yourself from them can offer a big advantage when it comes to keeping your business and clients safe online.

 

What is malware?

 

Malware is short for “malicious software” and usually refers to any software designed to disrupt the operations of your computers and/or other digital devices, provide hackers with access to your systems and data or to do both.

Malware can be obvious, like ransomware, where it openly disrupts the operation of your device, or it can be stealthy, designed to infect your computer and provide access to your systems and data without you being aware anything is wrong.

In recent years, malware has become ever more sophisticated, as have the criminals who release and control this software. Increasingly, malware is used by individual hackers and criminal gangs as a way to make money, often in quite elaborate and unexpected ways.

 

Types of malware

 

There are various kinds of malware that can be used to target businesses. Although some are merely designed to be disruptive, many give criminals a backdoor into your systems to steal data and send it back to the criminals behind the malware.

These are some of the most common types of malware used to attack businesses:

Ransomware

Ransomware works by taking over your computer, locking it and refusing to give you back control, or threatening to release sensitive information, unless a fee is paid to the people behind the software.

Unfortunately, even when companies do choose to pay, there is no guarantee the criminals operating the ransomware will do as they promised. However, many victims are desperate enough to pay up anyway.

Spyware

This software is usually discrete, meaning you are unlikely to know you are infected if you do not have adequate protections in place. Spyware quietly gathers sensitive information, such as login details, allowing access to your systems, and business sensitive data which can be used for blackmail purposes, to target your clients or in other more imaginative, but equally damaging ways.

Adware

Adware can be highly annoying, as well as lucrative for those behind it. It displays adverts on your computer, which can slow down your system and cause you to click on links which might appear legitimate, but actually take you to sites which can lead to your computer becoming infected with further malware.

 

How does malware get onto your devices?

 

Malware usually gets onto your computer because you downloaded an infected file, allowing the malware to be installed onto your system. This might be a file sent as an email attachment, or software that seemed legitimate that you downloaded from a website.

Malware operators often work by hacking legitimate email accounts, then using them to send infected files to the account owner’s contacts. Those contacts see the email as coming from someone they know, so make the mistake of downloading the file, assuming it must be safe.

This is why it is so important to have robust, constantly updated cybersecurity software as it can help to identify and protect you from malware, however it is distributed.

 

How does malware affect lawyers?

 

As well as the normal negative effects malware can have on any business, malware can have a more serious long term effect for lawyers. This is because malware operatives are likely to target not just your systems and data, but also the data of your clients.

If a malware attack on your law firm causes your clients’ data to be compromised, this could end up losing you clients, leading to compensation claims and causing irreparable damage to your professional reputation. It is therefore absolutely vital that lawyers prioritise malware protection.

 

What can you do to keep your law firm safe from malware?

 

There are various ways to protect your business against malware, but ultimately it comes down to having the right IT security support, the right software and the right training for your staff.

A good IT security team can help identify threats and close potential entry routes into your systems. They can also quickly disable any malicious software that makes its way onto your devices, minimising the potential damage.

Having good quality antivirus software which you keep regularly updated will also make a big difference as it will be able to identify and warn you of any potential threats. Keeping it updated really is key as this means your antivirus software should recognise the latest emerging threats.

Finally, each team member in your law firm needs to be trained to recognise the danger signs of malware, including how to spot suspicious links and email attachments and how to flag these up to your IT security team. This can have a huge impact by limiting the opportunities for malware to get into your systems in the first place.

 

Get complete protection from malware for lawyers

 

Keeping your law firm safe from cybersecurity threats including malware is vital, both to protect your business and your clients. If not correctly identified and dealt with, malware can disrupt your business, compromise critical data and damage your reputation with current and potential future clients.

City Business Solutions offer expert outsourced IT security support to the legal industry, with years of experience and up to the minute knowledge of all the latest and most serious cyber threats. Our team can offer full protection from malware for lawyers as well as a range of other IT security issues.

To find out more about how City Business Solutions can provide specialist IT support and security against a range of cyber threats including malware for lawyers, please get in touch.