March 27, 2014 Articles

Protecting Against Cyber-Attacks

How a law firm can defend itself from liability for cyber-security breaches.

By Matthew J. Hafey and Allen G. Haroutounian

Whether you own a mom-and-pop pizza shop in your neighborhood or run a business with hundreds of employees, the threat of a cyber-security breach is very real. Data breaches and cyber-attacks have increased 42 percent in 2012, making the occurrence of a cyber-incident increasingly more common. For example, in December 2013, Target suffered a security breach in which up to about 110 million of its customers’ credit- and debit-card information was stolen. The motives behind these types of attacks vary, from selling customer data for money, to exposing information to the public, to conducting espionage.

Cyber-security breaches are not specific to large retail corporations. In fact, any type of business, regardless of size, is susceptible to a cyber-attack. Of the 855 data breaches analyzed by Verizon Communications Inc. in 2012, about 72 percent of those breaches occurred at companies with 100 employees or less. Law firms that are in possession of client data, including Social Security numbers, medical records, financial statements, and more, face the same types of cyber-threats as any other business.

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