The number of cyber attacks on businesses in the UK is increasing, but many firms still don’t consider themselves at risk.
As a law firm, you routinely deal with sensitive information, data and client’s money. This can make you a prime target for cybercriminals who are looking to exploit weaknesses in your IT security. It’s vital that you understand the threats to your business and minimise the chance of reputation damage or legal repercussions if your systems are attacked.
Your first step should be to undertake a client security audit.
What is a client security audit?
A client security audit is a review of your organisation’s IT systems, including policies and procedures, to identify any vulnerabilities, risks or threats to the information you hold. The audit will allow you to evaluate the likelihood of any risks being realised and the impact such an event would have.
Once a client security audit is complete, you can then take preventative action to minimise risks to your firm.
An audit typically includes reviews of the following:
- Data security
- Risk management
- Regulatory requirements
- Contractual requirements
- Cyber risk management
- IT policies and procedures
- Information security management
- Security controls
- Development and live environments
- Staff training
Why carry out a security audit?
Aside from the growing threat of cybercrime to the legal sector (according to a 2018 NCSC report), law firms have a duty to ensure client information and money is secure. The recent changes to data protection law imposed by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) puts an even greater onus on businesses to protect data effectively. Violation of these regulations can result in fines of up to €20 million or 4% of a firm’s worldwide annual revenue in the preceding year, whichever is higher.
Ensuring you have the correct controls in place to avoid fraudulent activity, client money being stolen and data loss or theft will help minimise the negative consequences of a security breach, which can include:
- Reputation damage
- Loss of current clients and future business
- Disruption to your operations
- Damage to your IT systems
What to consider when undertaking a client security audit
Keeping clients’ confidential information safe should be a priority for any law firm. To do this, you will need to hire specialists to carry out a regular client security audits, who will also advise you on the best methods of securing your data and systems.
Compliance or best practice
Ensuring you comply with laws and regulations isn’t enough for IT security. Cybercriminals are coming up with new ways to attack systems faster than the law can respond to new threats.
Therefore, it’s crucial that law firms keep up to date with security best practice and implement systems that exceed legal requirements in order to keep their clients’ information secure.
Monitoring threats and identifying vulnerabilities
Proactively monitoring your IT systems is essential. You should routinely monitor email, software, apps, networks and operating systems. Your monitoring process should send alerts to designated IT staff when they detect a threat. Quick detection and response times can make a real difference to the impact of a threat.
Consider putting an incident management plan in place so you can deal with issues proactively. Then, carry out a post-incident analysis to implement any improvements needed to prevent further attacks.
Keeping your software up to date
Running regular software and app updates is important because of the speed of IT development. Out of date or obsolete software is a potential risk to your cybersecurity. Luckily, a client security audit will identify any software you should update or remove.
Training your staff in client security
Making sure your staff are aware of how to keep client information and money safe should be part of your overall IT security strategy.
Staff training should cover:
- What cybersecurity is and the threats it can pose to your business
- Data protection law and the impact a data breach can have on employees as individuals and your business
- Your firm’s security practices, for example, firewalls, antivirus protection and password management
- The vulnerable areas of your business
- How to process payments securely
- What employees need to do to keep client information secure
A client security audit will give you a detailed picture of your firm’s IT security position, along with recommendations on how to improve it.
Lastly, make sure you explain to your staff why you are carrying out an audit. As day-to-day users, they may highlight areas that need attention that you might have overlooked.
Concerned about client security? City Business Solutions would like to offer a free consultation with one of our IT experts. We’ll discuss how a security audit can help protect your business, now and in the future, so you can keep your systems safe and secure. Contact us today to book yours.