Cybercriminals frequently target the legal sector due to its extensive holdings of highly confidential, commercially sensitive, and often personal information. As a sector built on trust and reputation, this growing threat continues to disrupt and create havoc in business operations. It underscores the necessity for a deeper understanding of cyber threats and stronger cyber security measures within the legal industry.
The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) published a report in early 2023. It revealed that the UK has over 32,900 legal enterprises, encompassing barristers, solicitors, and other legal service providers. It has an estimated total revenue of £43.9 billion, and more than 320,000 people are employed in the legal sector. That represents a large and lucrative target for cybercriminals.
Legal firms may not know they have been compromised
Insufficient security monitoring and visibility into the environment could lead legal firms to remain unaware of potential compromises until it’s too late. Significant harm may have already occurred by the time they discover a breach. Worse, sensitive client data could have been stolen.
Moreover, our experience with legal firms reveals that they are facing rising vulnerabilities. It is due to the ‘work from anywhere’ setup, the growing threat landscape, and the ever-increasing complexity of cyber attacks.
Larger firms are starting to address cyber risk
Legal firms commonly face various types of attacks. These include phishing attacks, Business Email Compromise, ransomware attacks, password attacks, and supply chain attacks. Recognising the escalating risk landscape, these firms are prioritising governance and security.
The 2022 PricewaterhouseCoopers Annual Law Firms Survey reveals that larger law firms are significantly increasing their spending on cyber risk management. The top 100 allocate an average of 0.46% of fees to address this issue. It indicates a growing awareness of the problem and a need for enhanced data visibility.
It is crucial for legal firms to allocate their limited budgets and resources to mitigate cyber risks to prevent disruptions to their routine business operations. Failing to invest in necessary security controls can leave firms at risk of severe penalties and fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office. It also makes legal firms more attractive targets for cybercriminals. These firms lose billable hours due to outages and risk losing clients and enduring reputational damage, which can have immeasurable costs.
Legal firms handle significant funds, and the nature of legal transactions is time-sensitive. It’s no surprise, therefore, that this sector is enticing to cybercriminals. Ransomware gangs use phishing campaigns as an entry vector to extort money in exchange for the swift restoration of IT services.
Working with an external IT service provider
Managed service partners often handle IT services, including security, for many legal firms, particularly smaller to mid-size organisations. As a result, these firms may find it challenging to independently evaluate whether their current controls adequately match the risks they face.
Many legal firms now utilise document management systems like iManage or NetDocuments. These can enhance productivity, overall performance and document and data visibility. However, the vital organisational data these systems store in public clouds or on-premises makes data security and compliance increasingly complex.
By engaging security partners with a modern approach to security operations and those who understand the operational importance of document management systems, legal firms can create secure workspaces, empower their teams, and safeguard client data. This powerful combination allows for policy-based security. Ultimately, that provides visibility into the security of their data and the effective managing, governing, and auditing of content and associated activities.
A lack of visibility into their data
Even legal firms equipped with significant security tooling often lack the necessary level of visibility and management required to safeguard themselves from cyber breaches and attacks effectively.
These tools may be ineffective without proper technology integration, tuning, expertise, and defined processes. Modern Security Operations Centres (SOCs) approach security holistically. They enhance investigation and detection capabilities and aggregate data from all sources, including users, applications, servers, and cloud-based devices. It allows security teams to review vast amounts of data within seconds.
BlueVoyant offers this as a fully managed service. We deploy it on your infrastructure and utilise your existing tools. It ensures you retain control of your data while we work in real-time to protect your company from threats.
For larger legal firms, especially those with an overarching global brand comprising multiple member firms, the challenge becomes more complex with their systems and processes. Standardisation becomes crucial for improved security and cost savings. It is often the sensible choice for firms seeking to mature their cybersecurity posture.
Being a force multiplier
The National Cyber Security Centre’s latest report on Cyber Threats to the Legal Sector highlights the heightened risks caused by the widespread adoption of hybrid working, accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legal firms will continue to be an attractive target for cyber attacks due to the sensitive information they handle.
Coupled with the limited security budgets and a shortage of cyber skills, it presents challenges for firms to develop robust internal security strategies. As a result, more legal firms are turning to specialised managed security service providers and cyber defence experts. They can safeguard their data and knowledge, foster seamless team collaboration, enhance productivity, and ultimately achieve operational resilience, enabling them to focus on business growth and thrive.
BlueVoyant combines internal and external cyber defense capabilities into an outcomes-based cloud-native platform by continuously monitoring your network, endpoints, attack surface, and supply chain, as well as the clear, deep, and dark web for threats. The full-spectrum cyber defense platform illuminates, validates, and quickly remediates threats to protect your enterprise. BlueVoyant leverages both machine-learning-driven automation and human-led expertise to deliver industry-leading cybersecurity to more than 900 clients across the globe.