Modern technological tools make estate planning easier, but they present new responsibilities to keep your clients’ data safe. Because cybercriminals aim 43 percent of their attacks at small businesses, your law firm may be vulnerable without proper cybersecurity measures in place. A constant battle occurs in which hackers attack and IT professionals defend data and financial assets. Keep reading to learn helpful tips to safeguard your clients’ private information.
How Do Cybercriminals Operate?
The first step in protecting yourself from cybercriminals is understanding what they want. They most often seek sensitive data such as credit card and Social Security numbers, which they can sell. These criminals usually try to trick their victims with emails or texts that include infected links or attachments. They use a tactic called phishing, in which they pretend to be a trustworthy person or company. They introduce malware that can expose data or even disable an entire computer system. Sometimes, hackers hold their victims’ data for ransom and demand to be paid in cryptocurrency, which cannot be traced.
Cyberattacks can damage your law practice in the following ways:
- Disrupting your firm’s computer system
- Compromising your clients’ private information
- Losing revenue to replace hardware or pay ransom
- Damaging trust and your reputation
The reasons to increase your firm’s cybersecurity and deter cyberattacks are numerous, but there is yet another important reason: the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct regarding competence, communication, and confidentiality of information mandate that you take steps to safeguard your clients’ information.
Tips to Improve Cybersecurity
Hackers target small businesses because they often lack the IT staff and infrastructure that larger companies have to respond to cyberattacks. Train your staff members on cybersecurity to ensure they take the following precautions.
1. Add a confidentiality statement to emails
In your email signature, include a notice that the communication is privileged and confidential, and instruct email recipients to avoid printing and forwarding the email.
2. Train remote workers
Working from home is convenient, but it opens a Pandora’s box of security risks. Anyone else in the home could read an email or overhear a privileged conversation. Make sure remote workers are aware of these risks and intentionally preserve client confidentiality when working at home.
3. Be aware of shadow IT
Your law firm could have outstanding cybersecurity measures in place. However, if someone conducts business on their personal computer or email, these security efforts could go to waste. This is called shadow IT because it is out of the supervision of your IT professionals. Train your staff to conduct business exclusively on your secure network.
4. Avoid public Wi-Fi
Working at a coffee shop or hotel is convenient and provides a welcome change of scenery. However, public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. Resist the temptation to join the Wi-Fi network and use a secure hotspot or virtual private network (VPN) instead. Do not use the computers at the hotel’s business center, either, as they are often infected with malware.
5. Prioritize computer security
Strong passwords are a must for your hardware, email, and file-sharing accounts. Make sure that websites are encrypted (with “https” in the URL) before sharing information on them. Two-factor authentication can be a nuisance, but it prevents a hacker from stealing your password and being able to access your information. Encourage everyone to keep web browsers updated, because these updates often contain vital security measures.
6. Draft documents in the cloud
You have almost certainly had hours of work go down the drain for the following reasons:
- You did not save the document
- You saved it on a flash drive that broke or got lost
- You saved it on a laptop that crashed
Saving your work to a cloud-based document solution eliminates the worry about losing files for these reasons.
Secure Estate Planning Documents in the Cloud
WealthCounsel’s cloud-based software Wealth Docx® allows you to turn client interviews into exquisitely drafted estate planning documents. You and your staff can update and organize clients’ estate plans while collaborating in real time. In addition to saving your files from being lost, the software can update with new features and security enhancements automatically. Click here to learn how it works.