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Ensuring Resilience: How Firms Can Bounce Back After a Cyberattack

It has finally happened. Despite implementing cybersecurity solutions and training employees on how to avoid phishing emails and other infiltration methods used by cybercriminals, your firm has been successfully attacked. What do you do now? 

Here are eight steps. 

Amy Kosey

1. Halt the Attack First

We have seen many firms attempt to work through an attack. Although the temptation to maintain business operations during an incident is understandable, it is crucial to prioritize stopping the attack itself. Failing to disrupt the attack first can result in revenue losses far outweighing any that might be gained by keeping employees on task.

The longer an attack persists, the more data that becomes compromised, increasing the cost of remediation and likely the number of clients who will need to be contacted with unwelcome news. Firms should always have the mindset that halting the attack comes first and business continuity is secondary. Legal professionals must expect downtime after an attack.

2. Identify and Isolate Impacted Resources

As soon as a cyberattack is detected, it’s crucial to identify the compromised resources promptly. The initial step will be to isolate these resources to prevent the attack from spreading laterally within the firm’s network. Failure to segregate affected devices can lead to a more severe compromise and prolonged downtime. Law firms must have an incident response team in place to coordinate this process efficiently.

3. Prioritize Safety and Well-Being

While addressing cyber incidents is paramount, law firms must prioritize the safety and well-being of their personnel and clients. Establish clear communication channels to ensure employees are aware of the situation and know how to respond appropriately. This includes educating staff about potential phishing attempts and other social engineering tactics cybercriminals employ to gain unauthorized access.

4. Activate the Business Continuity Plan (BCP)

Law firms that have a well-structured and up-to-date business continuity plan in place will be better equipped to handle the aftermath of a cyberattack. The BCP should outline a comprehensive response plan, assigning roles and responsibilities to key personnel. This plan will act as a road map to guide the firm’s actions in the event of a cyber incident, ensuring a swift and coordinated response.

“Although the temptation to maintain business operations during an attack is understandable, it is crucial to prioritize stopping the attack itself. Failing to disrupt the attack first can result in revenue losses far outweighing any that might be gained by keeping employees on task.” 

5. Conduct a Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

A business impact analysis is a vital component of developing an effective BCP. It identifies resources and systems that are crucial to the firm’s operations. Critical resources vary from firm to firm. By conducting a BIA, law firms can prioritize the restoration of these resources and streamline the recovery process, minimizing overall downtime.

6. Enhance Preemptive Security Measures

In the wake of a cyberattack, it becomes evident that preemptive security measures are essential for law firms. Implementing network segmentation to separate workstations and servers and further segmenting servers based on roles will reduce the attack surface and limit potential damage. Adopting the principle of least-privilege access ensures that even if a user account is compromised, the attacker cannot get to critical resources or make administrative changes.

7. Embrace Secure Cloud-Based Solutions

To enhance data security, law firms should consider moving sensitive data to secure cloud-based solutions. By doing so, critical information will remain protected even if an attacker breaches the firm’s network. Regular backups of data stored in the cloud or in air-gapped systems are essential to facilitate recovery without paying ransoms to cybercriminals.

8. Test and Improve the BCP Regularly

The effectiveness of a BCP can only be realized through regular testing and improvement. Law firms should conduct tabletop exercises, simulate cyberattack scenarios and test the response procedures outlined in the plan. These exercises will help employees familiarize themselves with the protocols, reducing the recovery time in an actual incident.

In the face of a cyberattack, law firms must be prepared to respond swiftly and effectively to safeguard their data and protect their clients. Stopping the attack and prioritizing the safety of personnel should always take precedence over business continuity. By having a well-developed BCP, identifying critical resources and implementing preemptive security measures, law firms can mitigate the impact of a cyber incident and ensure a quicker recovery, enabling them to emerge stronger and more resilient.

Amy Kosey recently joined Legal Management Talk to discuss what the cloud is, why firms should transition to the cloud if they haven’t already and what they need to do to prevent any cybersecurity risks. If you’re looking to make the switch, she also talks about how to determine which cloud service provider is best for your firm. Tune in today!