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Safeguarding Your Law Firm: A Guide to Educating Employees About Cybersecurity Threats

In today’s digital landscape, law firms are not exempt from the looming threat of cyberattacks. While many may choose to remain tight-lipped about security breaches to safeguard their reputation, it’s crucial to understand that silence is not a defense against evolving cybersecurity threats. 

Amy Kosey

Staying silent only increases employees’ and clients’ vulnerability and the likelihood they will learn of the breach from the hackers. In fact, the firms that go the extra mile to educate and train their employees often experience fewer or no incidents. This article will explore the importance of educating staff about cybersecurity threats, focusing on two essential phases: during a cyberattack and post-recovery.


When a cyberattack is detected, immediate action is required. This phase is critical to mitigating damage and ensuring a swift recovery. Educating your staff during this high-stress period is essential. Here’s what you need to consider.

Set Expectations: Inform your staff that a security event has occurred. Ensure this communication is made through secure channels not compromised by the attack.

Stay Calm: Above all else, emphasize the need to remain calm. Panic can exacerbate the situation.

Establish Business Downtime: Explain that business downtime is necessary to isolate impacted systems and minimize the impact of the attack.

Gracefully Log Out: Encourage employees to calmly and efficiently save their work and log out of impacted machines immediately.

Offline Machines: Let staff know that impacted machines will be taken offline immediately, and a hard time limit will be set.

“Educating employees about cybersecurity threats is no longer optional; it’s a necessity for law firms.”

Follow Procedures: Stress that any attempt to log in without permission could worsen the event and might result in administrative action.

Prioritize Critical Systems: Highlight the importance of keeping critical systems offline to prevent further damage.

Give Regular Updates: Set expectations for regular updates to confirm if systems can be brought back online.

Mandate No Information Disclosure: Remind employees not to speak or release any information about the attack until stakeholders decide upon a formal response.

Describe Cyber Insurance: Educate stakeholders about the necessity of cyber insurance, especially if mandated, and provide an explanation of the attack that led to this requirement.

Explain Forensics and Follow-up: If forensics or cyber insurance engagement is required, communicate to staff members the extended downtime and inform them when systems are ready for use, pending forensic team approval.

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Once the initial threat is neutralized, it is vital to prevent future attacks. The type of attack will determine the appropriate post-recovery education. In general, social engineering and ransomware attacks are the most common, and here is how to educate your staff effectively.

Recognize Human Firewalls: Every team member is a firewall. Train your staff to recognize attacks and empower them to stop threats before damage is done.

Establish Annual Security Awareness Training: Implement regular security awareness training to increase staff’s awareness of potential red flags.

Conduct Assessment and Feedback: Run post-training tests or surveys to gauge staff’s understanding and the effectiveness of the training.

Implement Your Own Phishing Campaigns: Launch phishing campaigns to raise staff awareness of social engineering tactics.

Give Remedial Training: After the phishing tests, provide additional training for those who fail. Adjust the campaign cadence based on results.

Run Incident Response Testing: Regularly test your incident response, business continuity and disaster recovery plans to identify issues and technical problems.

Hold Tabletop Exercises: Simulate cyber events with tabletop exercises to prepare staff for real-world scenarios. Use feedback from staff to refine the process.

Educating employees about cybersecurity threats is no longer optional; it’s a necessity for law firms. As the adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The costs of a cyberattack, both in terms of financial losses and reputational damage, are far greater than the investment required to educate and prepare your staff.

Remember: It is the law firms that proactively train and educate their employees that stand a better chance of preventing, mitigating and recovering from cyberattacks.