Your client data has been breached; how do your law clients view you?
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Your client data has been breached; how do your law clients view you? As a victim or careless
 
According to the Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA), the number of Belgian data breaches tracked in 2020 was 1.097 (up from 877 in 2019); and the Inspection Service opened 149 investigations, up from 85 in 2019.In the United States, data breaches tracked in 2017 reached a new all-time high of 1,579, a 44% increase over the previous year’s record of 1,091 breaches, as per the Identity Theft Resource Center’s (ITRC) 2017 Annual Data Breach Year-End Review .
 
These figures were derived from the five groups examined: banking, business, education, government/military, and healthcare. With 584 breaches, the business sector led the way. Hacking was the most common means of attack, followed by phishing emails, malware, and staff mistakes or ignorance. In the legal sector alone, Mandiant, a cybersecurity firm, estimates that at least 80 of the country’s 100 largest companies by revenue have been hacked since 2011.
 
Each year, the number of breaches, attempted breaches, and the sophistication of hackers grows. No amount of protection can completely shield a system against cybercriminals.
The question is, how will your law firm’s clients see you? As a victim of a cyberattack or a careless organization that couldn’t protect their Personal Information?
 

What exactly is a data breach?

Every security incident in which one party acquires unauthorized access to the information of another entity constitutes a data breach.
Both internal and external parties can cause a data breach, and the breaches do not even have to be deliberate. If, for example, a person inadvertently transmits protected data to the wrong email address, they have committed an unintentional data breach. The same is true if an employee has access to confidential client or company data that they are not allowed to see, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
According to Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report , unintentional data breaches account for up to 17% of all data breaches. Nevertheless, the vast majority of breaches are both intentionally and financially motivated. In either case, they harm both businesses and consumers in several ways.
 
 

Data breaches can be classified into the following categories based on the type of breach:

 

  • Confidentiality Breach: When an unauthorized inside or outside agent acquires unintentional access to confidential data. This is common with data such as patient records.
  • Availability Breach: When confidential data is lost or destroyed due to a cyberattack. This occurs, for example, with ransomware, when hackers lock or encrypt specific blocks of data.
  • Integrity Breach: When an internal or outside agent intentionally or unintentionally modifies confidential data. Because no data is lost, it takes firms a long time to detect this type of hack.
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Depending on the circumstances, one or more of these breach types may occur, either separately or all at once. Sensitive data can include information about consumers, workers, or a company.
Individuals’ confidential data include Personal Identifiable Information (PII), ranging from credit card and social security numbers to personal health information. Confidential Business Information, on the other hand, is typically related to intellectual property, such as trade secrets, proprietary source code, or litigation data.
 

Dangers of a data breach

 

reputation

When a cyber security breach occurs, one of the first questions raised is the financial impact on the firm. This is not to be taken lightly, but because of the nature of the job done by law firms, reputational damage must be treated equally seriously.
 
Major law firms handle massive volumes of sensitive data and are trusted by their clients to keep it confidential and safe. This relationship serves as the cornerstone for the legal profession.
A potential breach of this data as a result of a cyberattack might severely damage a firm’s hard-earned reputation in the legal business. Something which you may not be able to recover from.
Even with preventive measures in place, data breaches can occur because cybercriminals are constantly evolving their operations. An example of this is a “zero-day attack,” which refers to the fact that the vendor or developer has only just learned of software vulnerabilities.” Hackers take advantage of this before its discovery and eventual repair.
 
According to Symantec, the number of new zero-day vulnerabilities discovered in 2015 more than doubled to 54, marking an increase of 125% over the previous year.
 

money

According to the 2021 CyberSecurity Ventures study, the cost of data breaches is steadily rising, at 10% year on year. The worldwide cost of cybercrime is likewise rising, and by 2025, it might reach $10.5 trillion per year. To put the fast escalating cost of cyberthreats into perspective, the annual cost in 2015 was about $3 trillion.
 
Determining the actual cost of a potential data breach for your company may be challenging because each firm and industry has distinct exposures and risk factors. On the other hand, businesses can educate themselves on the elements that most influence the cost of data breaches and how these figures alter depending on the industry and size of their firms.
According to the Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Report , the average global data breach in 2020 costs $3.86 million. The figure was just slightly lower than in 2019 when it was $3.92 million. The same report showed that the average cost of a data breach in 2020 reached $8.64 million.
 
The high costs of data breaches were blamed on two key issues in a joint study conducted by IBM and the Ponemon Institute: the absence or underrepresentation of security automation and incident response mechanisms in businesses and organizations. While the United States had the most expensive data breach incidences, the Middle East came in second with an average annual cost of $6.52 million.
The average global cost of a data breach has surpassed $4 million, according to IBM’s 2021 report . This is a 10% increase over 2019 due to “radical operational changes” triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the shift to remote work and the cybersecurity threats connected with the model.
 

Productivity

According to a 2016 poll, firms in the United States spend up to $1.8 billion each year due to outdated technology. As devices age, they become slower, more prone to freezing, and require more maintenance, resulting in increased downtime. They also lack the processing capacity required to develop new, efficient software packages that can help increase business productivity.
On the wish lists of surveyed US workers, the capacity to automate non-essential tasks, more mobile-friendly gadgets, and the ability to use cloud- based apps to access work documents stood out…all of which help them complete jobs at a faster rate.
 

Final Thoughts

Individual and class-action lawsuits by consumers and shareholders, settlement payments, and legal fees are all possible costs and liabilities associated with a law firm or organization’s data breach.
Depending on the circumstances, liability may include civil monetary compensation for any economic losses incurred by the victim. It may also include compensation for victims’ out-of-pocket expenses incurred in restoring the integrity of the compromised personal information. Victims’ emotional suffering may also play a role.
 
There is little doubt that efficiently managing cash flow is critical to a company’s overall health. However, in this day and age, companies, especially law firms, should seriously consider a technological infrastructure upgrade.