With the festive season upon us, bringing with it a spirit of joy and celebration, what better time for COLPs to receive an email from the SRA about that less-than-cheery modern phenomenon: cybercrime.
Last week, the regulator wrote to Compliance Officers highlighting the importance of cybersecurity, continuity planning and reporting serious issues around cyber attacks. The profession has recently been subject to some high-profile attacks, including a damaging incident involving CTS, an IT provider for the legal sector.
The importance of reporting and vigilance
The SRA emphasises the need for Compliance Officers to report serious cyber incidents promptly. Timely reporting under Rule 3.9 of the SRA Code of Conduct for Firms is a must. As a reminder, the rule says you must “report promptly to the SRA…any facts or matters that you reasonably believe are capable of amounting to a serious breach…”. This would include a successful cyber attack causing damage to the firm, or potential harm to clients.
They also want to know about (but cannot compel you to report) unsuccessful attacks, or those not directly impacting clients. This transparency, they say, helps the SRA monitor sector-wide risks and tailor their advice and warnings more effectively.
Protecting your clients and your business
Although Christmas is a time for giving, let’s not give cybercriminals a generous present. Regularly reviewing your firm’s cybersecurity processes and updating staff on prevention and response strategies is vital.
The regulator recognises that, while reducing the risk of successful attacks is possible, eliminating it entirely isn’t. Hence, they say that robust business continuity plans are essential. These should include strategies for dealing with compromised systems, understanding the security measures of third-party providers, and having effective backup solutions.
Can cyber insurance be part of your risk mitigation?
Cyber insurance can be a valuable asset for law firms that have been victims of a cyber-attack. Given the sensitive nature of the data solicitors handle, including client information, case details, and financial records, the impact of a cyber-attack can be particularly severe.
A specialist cyber policy can help in the following ways:
- Cost coverage for incident response and recovery: Cyber insurance typically covers expenses related to responding to a cyber-attack. This can include the costs of hiring IT specialists for data recovery, forensic experts to determine the cause and extent of the breach, and legal advice on liability and exposure.
- Claims and legal costs: If a cyber-attack leads to claims against the firm, cyber insurance can help cover legal fees and any settlements or fines that might be imposed.
- Ransomware payment assistance: In cases where ransomware is involved, cyber insurance may cover the ransom payment, though this is subject to the policy terms and ethical considerations. Insurers may have expert negotiators to handle such situations.
- Business interruption losses: Cyber-attacks can disrupt normal business operations, leading to loss of income. Cyber insurance policies can provide coverage for business interruption losses, helping the firm maintain financial stability during recovery.
- Reputational damage control: The reputation of a law firm is crucial for its business. Some cyber insurance policies offer services to manage public relations and mitigate reputational damage post-attack.
- Data restoration: If important data is lost or corrupted during an attack, cyber insurance may cover the cost of restoring this data from backups or reconstructing it.
Talk to a specialist broker for more information.
A season for reflection and action
The festive season is a perfect time to reflect on the year passed and prepare for the challenges ahead. By staying informed, vigilant, and prepared, we can ensure that the New Year remains merry and bright, free from the shadow of cyber threats.
So, before you settle down in front of your favourite Christmas film with that tub of Celebrations, take a moment to make some resolutions for your firm’s cybersecurity. It’s the best gift you can give your clients and your business.
Happy Christmas and stay safe.