Since 2011 in the U.S., 80% of the highest earning law firms have been hacked, according to Mandiant, a U.S cybersecurity firm. Prominent law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service, have long cautioned major U.S. law firms that cyberspies and criminals frequently target legal data when seeking valuable information about corporate mergers, patent and trade secrets, or even the personal lives of public figures.
For example, in 2012, hackers, traced back to China’s military, targeted a large law firm based in Washington D.C. because the firm was handling a solar panel trade dispute in which China had invested interest.
But regardless of size, prowess or nature of work, all firms are at risk. According to New York cybersecurity expert Chad Pinson, “If you’re a major law firm, it’s safe to say that you’ve either already been a victim, currently are a victim, or will be a victim. The question is, what are you doing to mitigate it?”
Due to the prevalence and weight of cyber attacks, many law firms are receiving pressure from clients to amplify their cybersecurity practices. Prospective clients, before accepting services, have even required law firms to fill out extensive questionnaires outlining their cybersecurity practices or have sent personal cybersecurity inspectors to firms to ensure that the law firm employs top levels of security.
Pressure from clients and the prevalence of attacks in the industry have forced many law firms to reassess their IT security, hiring security consultancy firms and fulltime IT specialists to constantly monitor networks for potential breaches and proactively protect legal data. Law firms have also formed cybersecurity alliances to share information about threats and determine the best cybersecurity practices for the industry.
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