It some respects, the legal industry is the same as any other. If a law firm handles EU citizens’ data, it must process that information in line with GDPR or risk substantial fines. And like other businesses, law firms must deploy robust and resilient protections against dynamic threats that characterise the cyberthreat landscape today.
However, there are some nuances of the legal sector that are worth stressing.
First, law firms risk more reputational damage if they fail to achieve compliance with GDPR or other frameworks. Especially in light of their role in guiding clients through complex legislative frameworks.
Second, as organisations processing highly sensitive – and valuable – data, law firms are particularly high risk when it comes to data protection. They are more likely to be targeted by malicious threat actors in the first place, since the information they handle is so valuable, and any data breach, whether accidental or malicious, could be potentially catastrophic.
Third, law firms are in the business of services, rather than tangible products – which means that the flows of data within and between them is highly complex. They deal with vast volumes of highly sensitive information – both personal and commercial – and this information is constantly moved around, amended, added to and deleted.
Collectively, then, law firms are likely to have a higher information risk profile compared to organisations in many other sectors – and this needs to be managed accordingly. The question is – how?
No objection to cybersecurity and compliance
We think any cyber defence or GDPR compliance strategy needs to start with a thorough understanding of the data within your organisation – after all, that data is what dictates your risk profile and the tools, technologies and processes you need to put in place to protect your organisation.
So, law firms should begin with a data flow mapping project, which is the foundation for embedding data protection by design and by default into their processes. This is critical for GDPR compliance, but it is also vital for robust cyber defences, since you need to understand what you are trying to protect from malicious interference. Our Data Flow Mapping Tool has been developed to make this process as simple and easy to keep updated as possible.
From there, law firms can complete the actions necessary to achieve and maintain compliance and solid data protection – that is, implementing the tools, technologies, and human and technical processes required to deliver robust protection. Whilst the actual profile of these protections will vary between law firms, the process for identifying and deploying them should be equally logical across all law firms. This is where tools like our vsRisk Cloud solution and our GDPR Manager are invaluable, for guiding law firms through a clear and consistent process for undertaking the right actions.
Next, it is vital for law firms to retain a dynamic and ongoing approach to their cyber defences and regulatory compliance. That is, they cannot expect to simply undertake an annual risk assessment or compliance check and leave things at that. The cyber threat landscape – and indeed the compliance landscape – are far too dynamic and ever-changing for that. Law firms need to be able to gain an instant picture of their current risk profile at any time – which, once again, is why digital tools for calculating and demonstrating compliance and risk status are so important.
For law firms, GDPR compliance and a solid cyber defence strategy always circle back to understand the data they are handling. What data is being produced, amended and processed. Where is it being stored and how is it being transmitted? How do different datasets relate to and depend on each other?
Only with this understanding can you develop a truly robust and resilient cyber defence and GDPR compliance strategy, protecting your organisation from malicious cyberattacks as well as accidental data breaches, and ultimately keeping your risk levels as low as possible.
Find out more
To learn more about our range of tools and protecting your organisation from a data breach, watch our short introductory videos: vsRisk Cloud, the Data Flow Mapping Tool, the DPIA Tool, Compliance Manager, GDPR Manager and CyberComply, our single affordable solution for data privacy and cyber risk auditing, reporting and management.
To request a demonstration of any of our tools, please click here.