corporate fraud

The UK is experiencing its biggest ever surge in corporate fraud and cybercrime. As prime targets, law firms need to ensure they are both vigilant in identifying threats and protected.

What is corporate fraud?

Corporate fraud is the intent or act of misrepresentation used to gain a dishonest advantage over another person or their business. It is often linked to cybercrime, and in most cases, it is financially motivated.

Law firms are often targets for fraud. In 2018, a National Cyber Security Centre report revealed that 60% of UK firms had reported a security incident.

Fraud and cybercrimes can occur within any legal firm, regardless of size, because of the attractive quantity of client money and sensitive data they hold. Confidential information such as medical records, bank details, divorce papers and government secrets are all highly valuable assets in the world of corporate fraud.

As well as causing devastating financial losses, breaches could also cause irreparable damage to a firm’s reputation. With so much at stake and corporate fraud continuing to rise, legal firms need to understand the different risks out there to avoid them.

In this article, we explore the most common types of fraud in the legal sector and explain how to prevent them from affecting your firm.

Email spoofing

One of the biggest instances of fraud in UK firms is email spoofing. It involves sending fraudulent email messages from a forged sender address. It is then used to distribute spam, other deceptive content or for phishing purposes. Spoofing can happen either internally or externally.

Email spoofing can be difficult to trace since emails appear to be sent from a firm’s legitimate email domain and therefore don’t trigger inbox spam filters.

Firms are at risk of this happening when they do not have the correct email security configurations or services in place. Many of those who fall victim to fraud are unaware that they do not have the necessary protection to stop it happening. For example, some security services may protect your firm from internal instances of spoofing but may be ineffective at preventing external cases to suppliers or clients.

External email spoofing can be hard to identify. Spoof emails can look genuine to the recipient, meaning firms may be unaware of this fraudulent activity for some time before realising what is happening.

Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly problematic for law firms.

They present themselves in a variety of forms and cause harm to businesses without the correct security in place for their IT systems. This can be, for example, because they are using out-of-date software that no longer performs as it should or teething problems with newly installed software.

Developers publically announce vulnerabilities in software as part of their standard resolution process. Cybercriminals prey on the release of this information and use it to pinpoint their victims online. It can lead to:

Data theft 

Data theft occurs when hackers abuse known software vulnerabilities to gain access to confidential information online.

Malware

The installation of malicious software designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorised access to an entire computer system – also known as a virus.

Ransomware

A malware that perpetually blocks access to electronic files, most often through encryption.

Loss of website control

This results in website owners and visitors being unaware that hackers have compromised a site and its traffic.

Certificate issues

Another recurring risk in the legal sector involves expired or revoked security certification, which can pose a significant threat to a firm’s reputation.

Holding an invalid certificate automatically triggers a security warning to pop up within the user’s browser, meaning visitors to the site cannot enter. It can impact brand legitimacy and business continuity, so firms must regularly review and adjust their certification to meet security requirements.

Defending Against fraud and cybercrime 

With corporate fraud and cybercrime continuing to rise, legal firms should strengthen their resilience to these threats and ensure they adequately protect their operations at all times.

Our IT security services will give you access to the knowledge and technology to protect your legal firm. We can also advise you on the most appropriate security solutions for your needs. Contact us today to learn more.