Cyber attacks against the legal sector have long since been a matter of concern owing to a large amount of client information and money they retain. This is a particularly grave issue considering the legal sector takes strict client confidence and trust as its foundation.
A targeted cyberattack on the legal sector can prove to be damaging not only for the legal firm but its supply chain and their clients. This issue is emphasised with the upgrade in many firms to Cloud-based technology, posing new risks and a new approach to cyber security which organisations need to invest in.
Risk Assessment To A Cyber Attack
A cyberattack on the legal sector poses a significant risk to the industry, supply chain, employees and their clients. Most of the organised cybercriminals perform these attacks with financial gain as their primary motive. They may launch a ransomware attack and encrypt data and will only release when a ransom paid. But this, of course, leaves them open to future attacks. In addition to ransomware, a cyberattack, such as a phishing scam, can be used to drain a company of its finances, leaving it bankrupt
Once cybercriminals have gained access to data, such as national insurance numbers, home addresses, family history, phone numbers, and bank information (PII) they often sell it to the highest bidder on the dark web to support future criminal activities.
However, as well as financial gain, cybercriminals will use the data to exploit them further to blackmail for further information on a client or to carry out new illegal activities to gain a competitive edge.
Should a legal firm or practice be breached, they would need to consider the reputational damage. Who would want to use the services or entrust their most confidential and sensitive data with an entity that has been breached? The reputational damage would be almost irreversible and would lead to the loss of clients and in some cases, bankruptcy.
It is, therefore, crucial to have a ‘cyber-secure’ environment, specifically as client confidentiality and secrecy remains to be and will continue to be, the backbone of the industry.
Cyber Threats To The Legal Sector
Some common threats specifically target the legal sector that is as follows:
1. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are cyberattacks designed to gather personal information through legitimate-looking emails or websites. These scams mostly fish out usernames, credit card information, passwords and bank account information.
Criminals launch a phishing scam using realistic-looking emails or web application forms that fool the client into revealing personal information. These forms or emails are tailored explicitly, so the victim believes he is providing the data to a legitimate source.
These scams are specifically designed to target specific victims which makes them one of the most successful cyber attacks. Although they most likely occur through emails and websites, text messages, phone calls, or social media are also popular vectors of carrying out these attacks.
2. Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware is malicious software that is designed to hold information or computer systems captive unless a ransom amount is paid. Hackers either deny users access to their systems altogether or encrypt information making it inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t have the decryption key.
However, despite what it may seem, paying the ransom rarely ever guarantees that the victim may get access to the stolen data. More so, it only gives the attacker a go-sign that the victim is open to paying ransom in the future.
Ransomware attacks occur through malvertising, drive-by downloads and malicious email attachments. Attacker target and exploit vulnerabilities within a system to successfully launch a ransomware attack. These attacks are sneaky and are designed to hide while causing havoc within the system.
3. Data Breaches
Data breaches usually refer to the loss of critical information, and in the case of the legal sector, data breaches typically result in the loss of confidential client information. These data breaches are often the result of hack attacks.
These threat actors intrude into the system by exploiting vulnerabilities within it. Although hack attacks are one of the most common forms of data breaches, loss of information can also often be a mere human error.
Despite cybersecurity being a grave matter, most people remain in the dark about it. With this lack of education, these people often become the weakest chain in security, allowing hackers to manipulate and exploit them. A simple human error could mean downloading a malicious email or clicking on a malicious link that may give way to a data breach.
4. Friday Afternoon Fraud
One of the most common cybercrimes in the legal sector is the Friday Afternoon Fraud, which revolves around hacking into conveyancing transactions to divert client funds ultimately. Quite like what its name suggests, this type of cyber-attack occurs on Friday’s as this is the day most purchases are made.
Launching the attack on a Friday also gives the threat actor the weekend to blend in and avoid detection. This fraud impacts buyers and often leads to victims losing their savings and any properties they intended to buy.
Mitigating Threat Risks
With cyberattacks, prevention and maintaining a robust cybersecurity posture is one of the critical methods of remaining secure from a cyberattack.
The following precautionary steps are needed to ensure a robust cybersecurity posture:
1. Educate employees
Employees are a crucial part of any sector. As most threat actors and cyber criminals exploit vulnerabilities within employees, it is best to make sure that they are made aware of the threats they might encounter.
Employees within the sector should know an underlying protocol to follow in case of cyber-attack detection. Apart from that, these employees should also be made aware of how to detect phishing scams and hack attacks to ensure security.
2. Breach Detection
Data breaches are devious, and in most cases often go unnoticed, which is why it is crucial to have an established breach detection service in place. The breach detection service monitors the external environment and provides the users with a unique outlook of their online presence.
Cyber Security professionals monitor the surface along with the deep and dark web to fish out information that is handled regarding the particular company or sector.
With this, the legal sector can maintain security and further alleviate potential threats to their system while cordially managing their resources. When breach detection services are combined with human reconnaissance and a Security Operations Centre (SOC) it will provide proactive intelligent security.
Ransomware and malware attacks, along with hack attacks, are one of the most havoc-wreaking cyber attacks any industry could encounter. They are devious and are hard to detect precisely when left to human detection only.
Although the legal sector tends to have an in-house IT team to monitor for threats, the evolution of cyber-attacks has made it harder to detect them. It is, therefore, crucial to partner with cybersecurity specialists that provide the latest intelligent security tools and guarantee maximum protection and security.
Cybersecurity within the legal sector is crucial to maintain the integrity and reputation of the industry, along with client confidentiality. The risks associated with cyber-attacks are far too high to gamble with, which is why smart cyber solutions are the key to safety and security.
It is also important to partner with a cybersecurity specialist that provides the latest advancements in global threat detection and security solutions for all industries and continually invests in its staff.