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Secure Email for Attorneys

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Secure Email for Attorneys

Law firms and individual attorneys have a unique place in the world of data. They often act as custodians of highly sensitive information. As part of the remit of a law firm, attorneys must offer a way to ensure the confidentiality of this data. 

Attorneys deal with large amounts of data, including emails. The security of emails and other data is essential, as attorneys and the firms they work for are under threat of cyber-attacks. A 2021 American Bar Association (ABA) survey found that 29% of law firms had experienced a cyber-attack. In addition, law firms must meet the stringent requirements of data protection and privacy laws. 

Ensuring the security of email is essential for law firms. Here are some reasons and what your firm can do to ensure secure emails for attorneys.

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Why Must an Attorney Secure Email?

It is the professional duty of an attorney to keep client information confidential. This is reflected in the American Bar ‘Rule 1.6: Confidentiality of Information’ that states, “A lawyer shall make reasonable efforts to prevent the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure of, or unauthorized access to, information relating to the representation of a client.

The ABA has also released a publication explaining the obligations of an attorney if a data breach does occur. The authors urge attorneys and law firms to perform several best practices that include:

  • “monitor the technology and office resources connected to the internet, external data sources, and external vendors providing services relating to data.”
  • “analyze compliance separately under every applicable law or rule.”
  • “monitor their technology resources to detect a breach.”
  • “developing an incident response plan with specific plans and procedures for responding to a data breach.”

Having a professional body set a confidentiality rule and how to deal with data breaches is one thing. Still, there is now a cybersecurity and ethical imperative to protect data, including emails.

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When Email goes Wrong for Attorneys

Law firms are targets for cybercriminals because they hold sensitive data and personally-identifying information (PII). One of the most significant data breaches, the "Panama Papers" breach of 2016, involved the law firm Mossack Fonseca. The breach has since been blamed on a vulnerability in a WordPress site that allowed hackers to access the law firm's email server. Around 11.5 million files were stolen in the breach. The files included emails, documents, and images: the damage is now the stuff of legend. 

At the time, Wordfence explained that the attackers could access confidential emails after they exploited a plugin vulnerability that allowed the attackers to access the email server login information. Wordfence explains:

Once the attacker also had access to this data, after gaining access to the WordPress database via Revolution Slider, they would have been able to sign-into the email server and would be able to read emails via POP or IMAP”

The Panama Papers hack was a major incident in the world of cybersecurity. However, law firms of all sizes are at risk of a cyber-attack. And the emails that they reside over are ideal targets for cybercriminals. A 2021 Annual Law Firms’ Survey from PwC found that 90% of law firms “view cyber risk as the biggest threat to future growth ambitions.”

The statistics stack up, showing the high-risk levels of data-rich law firms.

A recent report from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found that four out of five cybercrime reports to SRA involve email. The Chief Executive of SRA highlighted the problem, “Law firms are targeted by cybercriminals as they often hold large amounts of client money and/or sensitive information. It is in everyone's interest that firms take all reasonable steps to protect themselves and their clients, all the more so as innovation and increased use of IT make information security a priority.

At the time, Wordfence explained that the attackers could access confidential emails after they exploited a plugin vulnerability that allowed the attackers to access the email server login information. Wordfence explains:

Once the attacker also had access to this data, after gaining access to the WordPress database via Revolution Slider, they would have been able to sign-into the email server and would be able to read emails via POP or IMAP”

The Panama Papers hack was a major incident in the world of cybersecurity. However, law firms of all sizes are at risk of a cyber-attack. And the emails that they reside over are ideal targets for cybercriminals. A 2021 Annual Law Firms’ Survey from PwC found that 90% of law firms “view cyber risk as the biggest threat to future growth ambitions.”

The statistics stack up, showing the high-risk levels of data-rich law firms.

A recent report from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) found that four out of five cybercrime reports to SRA involve email. The Chief Executive of SRA highlighted the problem, “Law firms are targeted by cybercriminals as they often hold large amounts of client money and/or sensitive information. It is in everyone's interest that firms take all reasonable steps to protect themselves and their clients, all the more so as innovation and increased use of IT make information security a priority.

 

The Effect of Insecure Email on an Attorney

Insecure email practices increase cyber-risk in several areas, including:

Reputation damage: law firms that lose client data are subject to reputation damage. An SLA report found that targeted firms involved in cyber-attacks resulted in the theft of around $5 million of client money. In addition, the report found that almost half of these firms had allowed unrestricted access to external data storage.

Non-compliance and fines: unprotected emails can result in data theft or accidental data exposure. This leads to non-compliance with various regulations, depending on the client and nature of the work. These regulations include ‘The General Data Protection Regulation’ (GDPR) in the EU, ‘California Consumer Privacy Act’ (CCPA), and ‘New York’s SHIELD Act’.

Data leaks: emails contain valuable and sensitive data. Data breaches that involve email compromise can expose your firm and clients to the risk of further violations and other forms of cyber-attacks, including ransomware.

Sign up for a FREE Demo of EncryptTitan to learn how the solution works secure emails for attorneys with data loss prevention.

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How to Secure Email for Attorneys?

When choosing a secure email solution designed for law firms and attorneys, look for the following features:

Cloud-based: a cloud email protection solution is easy to deploy across remote offices and is perfect for homeworkers and attorneys who need to travel for work. No hardware is required, and maintenance can be performed using a central console by an IT professional employed at the firm. Alternatively, cloud-based email protection solutions are ideal for a Managed Service Provider (MSP) delivery.

Agnostic to email environments: attorneys and clients are unlikely to use the same email client; therefore, a secure email solution must be agnostic to the email system.

Robust email encryption: messages and attachments must both be encrypted to ensure 360-degree protection. Encrypted email messages should only be decrypted by the intended recipient on their device.

Data loss prevention (DLP): advanced email protection for attorneys must include a DLP component. DLP solutions are configured to look for keywords or phrases to prevent emails from accidentally being sent. DLP email protection must be applied to both inbound and outbound emails to be effective.

Email archiving: an optional component of an email protection system is secure email archiving. This forms part of a wider disaster recovery and business continuity strategy.

 

What is EncryptTitan?

EncryptTitan is a secure email platform ideal for attorneys deployed by a law firm or an MSP.

EncryptTitan is 100% cloud-based and easily deployable and maintained. It requires no hardware and can be used by remote employees, no matter what email client is used. However, EncryptTitan also offers an Outlook plugin for ease of use. As a result, EncryptTitan is seamless in use and provides attorneys and law firms with the tools to comply with data protection and privacy regulations and ensure confidential services to clients.

 

Further features of EncryptTitan

DLP capability: EncryptTitan supports DLP to prevent sensitive or inappropriate information from being exposed via email.

Ease of use: auto-encryption policies encrypt emails based on content in the message body or attachment. This also provides a high-level of assurance of email protection.

Ideal for deployment by an MSP: law firms often have limited IT staff. EncryptTitan is designed to be easily deployed and maintained by a Managed Service Provider (MSP). This deployment model also offers a cost-effective way to secure email for attorneys.

To secure your client emails and see how easy, secure emails for attorneys can be, sign up for a demo of EncryptTitan today: https://www.titanhq.com/email-encryption/

Sign up for a FREE Demo of EncryptTitan to learn how the solution works secure emails for attorneys with data loss prevention.

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