Why solicitors cannot afford to be complacent about cyber security

Around one in four legal firms have experienced a cyber-attack, according to a new survey published by NatWest.

Researchers who conducted the annual Benchmarking Survey on behalf of the bank, found that of the 269 law firms who responded to the survey, a quarter had fallen victim to attacks by cyber criminals.

The legal sector has become a particular target due to the valuable client data it holds on organisations and individuals as well as the significant sums of client monies it handles.

The increase in cyber-targeted attacks has, in part, led to new tougher data handling regulations which are due to be introduced in May 2018.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation will mean that all businesses handling EU citizens’ personal data will have just 72 hours to notify data subjects of a breach.  Experts believe that this will lead to more protection breaches being made public in the future which, in turn, could damage a law firm’s reputation.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) which also conducted a poll of its members to understand the scale of cyber breaches, found that, despite greater awareness about the potential danger that cyber criminals pose, there are still a significant number of firms who are failing to take precautions to protect themselves.

Adam Marshall, the BCC’s director general, said: “Cyber-attacks risk companies’ finances, confidence and reputation, with victims reporting not only monetary losses but costs from disruption to their business and productivity. Firms need to be proactive about protecting themselves from cyber-attacks.

“Firms that don’t adopt the appropriate protections leave themselves open to tough penalties. Accreditations can help firms assess their own IT infrastructure, defend against cyber security breaches and mitigate the damage caused by an attack.”