Email is the primary tool that law firms use for day-to-day communications, both internally and externally. Email is also the most common and most effective attack vector used by cybercriminals for initial access to launch data breaches and deploy malware.
Email security is an absolutely necessary component of your law firm’s cybersecurity stance.
Versatility of Email for Cyberattacks
As versatile as email is as a communication method, it’s similarly adaptable for launching cybersecurity attacks.
There are two main avenues of cyberattacks using email – phishing and malware. Phishing is a tactic where cybercriminals pose as a legitimate source and trick users into taking an action, such as revealing sensitive information, that is then used for theft or a data breach. Malware leverages malicious software to deploy attacks such as ransomware.
Phishing Based Email Attacks
According to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 85 percent of data breaches involved the “human element.” Email phishing was present in 36 percent of the breaches, up 25 percent from 2020, and Business Email Compromises (BECs) were the second-most common form of Social Engineering. Social Engineering is something in an email that alters the recipient’s behavior, encouraging them to take an action or breach confidentiality.
Phishing. Email is the most used platform for cybercriminals attempting to execute phishing scams. Phishing uses various tactics, including email spoofing, to trick email recipients into taking actions that they shouldn’t and typically wouldn’t take. For example, when a bad actor misrepresents themselves by posing as a trusted individual – a vendor, colleague, executive, of well-known organization – to gain the email recipient’s trust so that they will share their personal information, wire money, perform some other fraudulent financial transaction, visit a corrupt website, or download malware-laden attachments.
Spear-phishing. An email scam that targets specific individuals, organizations, or businesses, spear-phishing emails use impersonation tactics to spoof the sender and/or domain to impersonate executives, colleagues, partners, and well-known organizations to fraudulently steal money or data from unsuspecting users, or to install malware on a targeted individual’s computer.
Whaling. In this type of email scam, attackers target high-profile employees like CEOs, CTOs, CFOs, COOs, and other senior managers, and then collects the target’s information through various official-sounding online sources. When their collection is complete, the cybercriminal will send an email to the target, posing as a legitimate contact, and request personal information from them used to steal company credentials.
Malware Based Email Attacks
Malware. In a malware attachment-based attack, a cybercriminal includes malware in the email via embedded images or other attachments and uses urgent-sounding language to tempt the recipient to open or download the attachment. Once this happens, malware is installed onto the device where it can spy on users, steal important information, monitor and record actions taken on the device, and send phishing emails or messages to the user’s email clients and social media profiles.
Ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption to hold an email recipient’s personal data at ransom so that files, databases, and applications cannot be accessed until the ransom is paid. Ransomware is frequently intended to spread throughout an entire network, targeting databases and servers to inflict significant damage and expense upon an organization.
Zero-day attacks. This type of attack takes place when hackers exploit a recently discovered security vulnerability that software and antivirus vendors are not yet aware of. Because defenses are not yet in place, zero-day attacks are highly likely to succeed, making them a severe security threat for government entities, large organizations, and individuals (oftentimes lawyers) with access to valuable intellectual property.
Email Security Protects Your Law Firm
Cybercriminals are well aware that law firms contain troves of confidential data. Email security software helps eliminate unwanted and unsafe emails before they reach the firm’s servers, and outbound monitoring blocks a client’s confidential information from leaving the network unintentionally by providing:
- Threat deterrence
- Data leak prevention
- Email security controls
- Email continuity and archiving
A comprehensive email security solution delivers complete email, document, and network protection while providing real-time email security and email continuity should your firm’s servers go down. Emails that have been designated as malicious are either quarantined or rejected.
How Email Security Software Works
Email security software functions as a firewall for email communications by establishing rules about which emails can enter or be sent from a user’s email network. These platforms scan all incoming, outgoing, and internal email messages, including attachments and URLs, looking for signs of malicious or harmful content. They also offer protection from social engineering attacks such as phishing and stop harmful content from entering the network.
This software is typically cloud-based, filtering email traffic through a cloud platform with no hardware requirements. They filter email before it reaches users’ inboxes, using algorithms to detect patterns that commonly exist in spam emails and malicious links. They also offer a strong level of protection for email recipients on all devices, often allowing protection for employees working remotely.
Benefits of Email Security for Lawyers
Law firms that invest in email security protect themselves and their clients both professionally and ethically because:
- Email security helps ensure that all communications stay confidential. A comprehensive email security approach will enable you to protect client correspondence and other sensitive information. This is especially important if you represent clients in the healthcare or financial services industry, where you must be compliant with industry-specific regulatory demands that go beyond what the American Bar Association requires.
- Email security helps avoid data leaks. A leak resulting from a phishing attack or an employee sending an email to the person, can compromise client data, payment information, and any other files that might expose your client to risk or damage your firm’s reputation. Secure email helps avert avoidable leaks from unencrypted messages.
- Email security demonstrates compliance: A secure solution designed for regulatory compliance can show potential clients that your firm has the protections in place to practice in areas like healthcare, finance, intellectual property, and others.
To learn more about how our cloud-based security approach can help your firm avoid cyberattacks launch via email, contact us today.