From cyber attacks to widespread viruses, the risks involved in sending client data via email are real.
Email is still the most popular method of sensitive document transmission in business in 2018, even though cybersecurity breaches make the news regularly in efforts to raise awareness of the risks involved. Email hacking has become such a hot topic that the American Bar Association (ABA) recently spoke up in response with their publication on Securing Communication of Protected Client Information.
Legal offices handle a great deal of sensitive data, much of which includes health information, financial statements, and other data that forces them to comply with several regulatory laws like HIPAA, SOX, GDPR, and more. When security breaches occur, law practices not only face legal and financial repercussions, they also have a major impact on the trust they’ve built with clients. With so much at stake, it’s critical that legal practices take as many security precautions as possible to protect their client’s information.
The truth is that no email platform is fully protected from security breaches. Email communications involve so many moving parts that leave open windows for hackers to exploit no matter how sincere your efforts to protect files are. Let’s take a look at 3 types of email security risks that legal practices should be on the lookout for.
The Majority of Viruses Arrive Via Email
While viruses may not go hand-in-hand with reported data breaches, they can do much more damage to your client data at its source if they spread through your electronic records. Viruses can drastically reduce the runtime of your computer systems, or even lock users out of their computers completely. They are known to corrupt files, transfer to your law practice’s bank account, the list goes on.
The vast majority of today’s computer viruses come in the form of email attachments. While most of us know not to open phishing scam emails offering financial rewards and the like, some viruses are unknowingly passed on via email attachments from known addresses. Even though many of today’s workstations come equipped with vital antivirus software, it can become tedious to have to right click and scan everything that comes in to avoid threats. Security experts around the globe consider staff training on the dangers of malware and other viruses as the #1 preventative measure for protecting your organization and client data from malicious attacks.
Email Spoofing Attacks are Getting More Sophisticated
Spoofing is a form of cyber attack where hackers forge an email header so that malicious emails look like they’re coming from a trusted source. It’s a tactic that’s been used for years to get users to open malicious emails so that cybercriminals can either wreak havoc on an organization’s network or gain access to sensitive information. Whereas in the past, hackers used to get contact lists from virus-infected computers, today, data thieves pick their targets a little more strategically with emails that look like they come from friends, coworkers, and even their own internet providers.
Email spoofing is possible because the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) doesn’t provide a mechanism for address authentication. Email address protocols and mechanisms for battling spoofing do exist, they just haven’t been widely adopted, putting a lot of companies at risk.
Encryption May not be as Secure as you Think
Typically, the easiest and most common way to protect private client information as it travels via email is with encryption. Encryption scrambles the contents of email messages in order to protect data from being viewed by anyone but the intended recipient. Encrypted emails typically require authentication (usually a password) to confirm they’ve reached the right person. There are a variety of technology tools used to encrypt emails, including encrypted email servers that will redirect recipients to secure websites for digital signatures as an additional security layer.
The problem with encryption, however, is that it was recently revealed to be less infallible as a security measure than most people thought. A team of European researchers have recently uncovered critical vulnerabilities in PGP and S/MIME, two of the most common forms of end-to-end encryption out there. This recent news means that anyone using these tools could be vulnerable to hacks, putting them at not only risk of emails being intercepted, but potential exposure of the contents of past messages as well.
To avoid the threats discussed in this article, legal offices must provide employees with an easy-to-use file transfer system for sending large attachments. SendSecure is a simple to deploy solution with robust security reinforcements, including proprietary double encryption and two-factor authentication. It automatically scans files as they are uploaded to detect any threats, so you don’t have to. Speak with one of our knowledgeable experts today to find out how SendSecure can work for you.