Why Multi-Factor Authentication Is Important for Your Law Firm’s Cybersecurity

by | Jan 3, 2022

Today,  cybercriminals often choose law firms as targets for their attacks. Hackers are well aware that law firms amass huge volumes of highly sensitive and confidential information that represents a great value. At the same time, many legal professionals do not use robust security measures. They are still hesitant about why multi-factor authentication is essential for their law firm’s cybersecurity or whether they should take any extra steps to ensure the safety of their data.

Many users are still surprised that even the most complex passwords do not provide reliable protection of user accounts. In reality, most passwords can be easily cracked using malware or hacking techniques, such as phishing, which accounted for the most cyberattacks in the previous years. Meanwhile, protecting law firms’ data with another layer of security through multi-factor authentication (MFA) has proved highly effective in combating hacking attempts that fail each time the hackers are requested to confirm their identity with MFA.

Despite the proven efficiency of MFA, many legal professionals are still unsure about using multi-factor authentication or why it is vital in the first place. Here is more on the cyber threats faced by U.S. law firms today, how multi-factor authentication works, and how it can help lawyers keep their law firm’s data more secure.

Why Is Multi-Factor Authentication Important?

The cyber threats faced by lawyers today are real and measurable, but not all legal professionals are aware of the seriousness posed by cybercrime. At the same time, according to the study published by the American Bar Association, 29% of law firms in the United States have reported a security breach in the year 2020 that is already 3% more than the percentage of attacks targeting lawyers in the previous year.

For law firms, the safety and confidentiality of their clients’ data have always been their top priority. The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to safeguard information relating to client representation against unauthorized access and inadvertent disclosure. In addition, attorneys and other legal professionals are regulated by federal and state laws, containing requirements for safeguarding the information collected by law firms.

Meanwhile, numerous reports have demonstrated strong evidence that password protection employed by law firms does not provide a reliable defense against cyberattacks. The study published on the Microsoft website states it outright that your password doesn’t matter because cybercriminals employ many other techniques to circumvent passwords, including phishing attacks, using cracking software, or trying passwords from the list of stolen or purchased credentials. 

Indeed, even technically savvy lawyers who use longer passwords or passphrases can fall victim to a phishing attack, clicking inadvertently on a malicious link in an email or opening an attachment with malware. At the same time, multi-factor authentication provides the much-needed layer of security above login and password, making cracked or stolen credentials useless without additional user identification. Given the ease of circumventing password protection, multi-factor authentication becomes an essential tool in improving the safety and security of legal IT infrastructure and has proved itself highly effective against cyberattacks.

How Does Multi-Factor Authentication Work?

Multi-factor authentication helps protect user accounts and data by requiring a user to enter another verification factor in addition to login and password. There are many ways to implement multi-factor authentication, including verification codes, one-time passwords, QR-codes, biometric data, key fobs, and other hardware and methods.

The most common example of multi-factor authentication is entering a unique code sent to the user’s cellphone after entering login and password to get further access. The user is provided with a specific time window to enter the code, not exceeding several minutes, after which the code is no longer valid, calling for a new verification attempt. The account or data owner can further increase data safety by limiting the number of attempts by a certain number, after which the access is blocked for a predefined time.

Multi-factor authentication is often synonymous with two-factor authentication, requiring only the second credential, for example, an SMS code, to be entered in addition to login and password. However, in some cases, multi-factor authentication can involve three factors to provide the highest data safety level.

There are many products available on the market that allow applying multi-factor authentication across law firms’ IT systems, which cover email accounts or websites and cloud storage, CRM, ERP, database, and other software on desktop and mobile devices. These products come with various functionality and their own set of advantages, so it is always advisable to consult with an experienced cybersecurity service provider to choose the best-fitting product for each situation.

Why Use Multi-Factor Authentication

According to an already cited Microsoft report,  those interested in protecting their data are advised to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) over other practices. As demonstrated by the studies, other nonetheless important measures, such as using unique passwords for each account or password managers, are not even close to as effective as MFA.

Secondly, the users may not even know that their login data have been compromised and can continue using such credentials for a prolonged time before the damage occurs. Meanwhile, multi-factor authentication would ensure that the chances of such damage materializing are practically excluded by adding another verification factor.

One of the other reasons why multi-factor authentication is important consists in the simple fact that cybercriminals prey on soft targets whose data security can be easily breached without spending too much time or effort. Once the hackers encounter strong safety measures in the form of multi-factor authentication, they would most often switch to less complicated targets.

Last but not least, the multi-factor authentication method ensures the security of data and accounts without user disruption. Modern MFA solutions can remember devices and do not require users to undergo additional verification during each login attempt. Instead, such systems ask users to confirm their identity through pinning their cellphones or using other means during the first login or each time a user changes location or IP address, tries to access accounts from different applications, or uses VPN. In all other cases,  multi-factor authentication is not activated, and all users have to do is enter their login and password.

Learn More about MFA and Cybersecurity Services from Rize Technologies

The cybersecurity team from Rize Technologies helps lawyers ensure data privacy and security by addressing vulnerabilities and applying effective security measures, including integration of multi-factor authentication in law firms’ IT infrastructure.

Our cybersecurity experts will be glad to advise you on the most effective tools for boosting your cybersecurity with the application of multi-factor authentication and other methods.

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