Is Your Law Firm Cybersecurity-Ready?29 April 2021
The pandemic has heightened the risk of data breaches that could expose corporations to a liability, so it’s imperative that they start to take steps to mitigate the risk immediately.
Like all industries, law firms are susceptible to cyberattacks. In 2016, the Panama Papers leak shocked the world and brought cybersecurity to the fore. What came to light wasn’t only how politicians and world leaders exploit secretive offshore tax regimes, but also the rather astonishing lack of basic security practices on the part of the law firm Mossack Fonseca.
Five years on, dozens of companies, law firms and government organizations worldwide have acknowledged their Accellion FTA-related breaches since December 2020, and the number appears to be growing by the day.
Cybersecurity, especially in a global context, is now a key concern for legal practitioners because of their integral roles in public and private company litigation and transactions. In the event of a data breach, unauthorized third-party access to sensitive documents could jeopardize ongoing litigation and negotiations, or result in the theft of millions of dollars from client trust accounts. The reputational damage combined with regulatory and operational impact on the organization far outweighs the cost of setting up and maintaining enterprise-grade security measures in the first place.
Areas of vulnerability
As the legal profession embraces digital collaboration, organizations are dealing with a more complex data environment as they continue to collect more and more data. And then there is COVID-19. As a result of the pandemic, we saw a sudden shift toward remote working which created even greater volumes of data and exacerbated vulnerabilities of organizations already struggling to deal with data security threats. Hackers may gain access to their assets such as IP, sensitive client information and even employee personal details using phishing or ransomware attack.
Last year, Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm, published a global security report that provides insights into cyber threats faced by organizations in Asia. The investigation indicates that the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region was 80 percent more likely to be targeted by hackers as organizations lagged behind other continents in their defense against cyberattacks. On average, the time taken to discover an attack is 520 days in the region, while the average globally is 146 days. The inability of these organizations to combat modern cybersecurity threats makes them easy targets for cybercriminals seeking to exploit vulnerable internal security systems.
In an era where data breaches and malicious hacking attacks against companies throughout the world are making headlines, you need to have the best partners aboard to ensure security, data privacy and sovereignty – all while maintaining a high level of usability.
Fighting the battle with the right tools
Managing data sounds simple, but in a global organization, it certainly isn’t. Let's imagine a typical use case where a modern, commercially focused global law firm shares large volumes of confidential documents with clients, vendors and regulators daily.
Internally, managing and controlling access to the large quantities of data being uploaded, downloaded and accessed on the server can be a cybersecurity nightmare; while externally, sensitive documents are shared outside the firm via email. This leaves the firm exposed to the risks of intentional and unintentional data breaches.
Law practices across the world are now turning to enterprise-grade solutions, like Intralinks, to address these pressing data protection concerns. Since 2014, Intralinks has passed over 280 client-led audits of our physical data centers, source code, processes, applications and personnel management. Intralinks’ risk-based solutions are fully configurable into a firm’s infrastructure to strengthen the protection and tracking of legal documents and create a secure data environment for sharing large amounts of digital information over the web.
To keep up with the challenges of a changing data landscape, law firms cannot afford to be complacent about cyber threats. Some questions to think about: Is your firm cybersecurity-ready? Do you have systems in place to protect sensitive documents and data?
The rapid development of technology and the myriad of ways an organization’s IT systems can be infiltrated means that your internal resources are likely to be insufficient in protecting your firm. An assessment of the damaging consequences of a potential data breach will drive any cyber-aware organization to outsource its cybersecurity functions to trusted service providers, like Intralinks, for the peace of mind that the firm is cybersecurity-ready.
Jenkins Fung is the team lead of Advisory and Corporate Development. He's dedicated to supporting investment banks and law firms in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Jenkins works with clients on improving cross-enterprise collaboration and securely facilitating company sales, M&A and capital raising in the early, preparatory phase through due diligence, ultimately leading to successful execution.
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