Intellectual property (IP) theft is an ongoing and systemic threat to United States businesses and government bodies. In a 2017 update to the IP Commission Report, the Commission on the Theft of Intellectual Property found that theft of trade secrets inflicts an estimated cost of $600 billion annually.
But data security breaches don’t just result in high costs. They can also do severe damage to an organization’s reputation.
Law firms have an ethical obligation to protect their client’s data and keep it private. But many law firms have yet to undertake a comprehensive audit of their data protection standards. Emails, insecure data capture solutions, and printed materials can all create risk if not secured properly.
That’s why we’ve developed a quick guide to securing your law firm against intellectual property theft and other data security threats.
Identify Common Security Threats
The most common data threats to your law firm’s security don’t come from the outside. They come from inside — that is, from your own employees.
Insiders at your firm are high-value targets for hackers. Often, hackers will try to trick them with what’s known as “social engineering” attacks.
These may come in the form of fake emails or online messages that make your employee think one of their superiors is telling them to perform a task. Typically, that task requires them to transfer login information, such as an email and password. This is known as “phishing.”
Insiders can also steal data on purpose or accidentally. If you haven’t taken steps to prevent it, it’s safe to assume that departing employees are leaving with at least some confidential information. Employees who occupy a technical role have more access to your data and IP than others.
If you work with an outsourced contractor such as an outsourced IT provider, you should ensure they sign a contractual agreement regarding your IP. Nondisclosure obligations and assignments of ownership of intellectual property should be standard in all your contracts.
Other threats to your IP and data security include:
- Human negligence
- Insecure public Wi-Fi access points
- Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks
Thorough training and a robust cyber security suite are a good defense against these attacks. However, GDPR compliance is essential to keeping your data secure.
Don’t Ignore GDPR Compliance
The GDPR is one of the most robust bodies of data privacy regulations ever created, and it’s likely to inspire many more regulations in the future. The regulation applies to companies that collect data from individuals within the European Union (EU). This has led many U.S.-based organizations to believe they are not required to comply with GDPR.
However, even if your law firm doesn’t do business in the EU, you should still comply with this regulation. Data that isn’t secured by GDPR standards risks being leaked. Furthermore, the regulation applies to your law firm if you collect any data from someone in the EU.
For example, you may have contact forms on your website. If someone from the EU fills out a form, you’d be required to comply with this regulation.
Complying with GDPR can be a long process. Here are the basic steps your law firm must take:
- Have every stakeholder study the regulation
- Create a task force
- Conduct a risk assessment
- Create a GDPR compliant data protection plan
- Implement your security measures
- Train all employees on your new security protocols
Many law firms don’t have the means to tackle this challenge on their own. If you need assistance, you can rely on an experienced business process outsourcing (BPO) provider to help.
Work with a Data-Safe BPO Company
A BPO partner can lend you their knowledge and experience to help you secure your data, comply with regulations, and streamline your back office processes. Many BPO companies can give you a comprehensive review of your firm’s risk level.
Learn more about securing your data and becoming GDPR compliant today!