May 17, 2024

Protecting Your Legal Practice: Navigating Cybersecurity Compliance

In February this year, the Legal Services Board and Commission published a series of minimum levels of cyber security that must be upheld to protect clients’ data and security. Failure to maintain these standards breaches minimum professional standards and could result in a formal reprimand or fines.

This announcement isn’t just for legal firms because, soon, in Australia, all businesses will be required to protect themselves and their clients with minimum cyber security. Due to the sensitive nature of legal firms’ work, it makes sense that they are the first to make it part of their minimum legal standards.

Compliance with these minimum professional standards is serious, so we have created a rundown of what you need to prepare for moving forward to comply with up-to-date cyber security standards and to have a sustainable level of compliance so that cyber security insurance can be acquired for legal practices.

Below are the VLSB Minimum Cyber Expectations, a roadmap to ensuring law firms are compliant and on the right course. These expectations aren’t just about ticking boxes; they’re about safeguarding your clients’ trust and meeting your ethical obligations.

Understanding the Basics: System and Behavioral Controls

Before we dive into the expectations, let’s know the two main types of controls:

  • System Controls: These technical safeguards protect your information systems from external threats. Think of them as the digital locks and alarms keeping your data safe.
  • Behavioural Controls: Conversely, these controls focus on influencing human behaviour within your practice to minimise security risks. They’re like the guidelines that keep your team vigilant and proactive in the face of cyber threats.

Critical Controls: Your Cyber Commandments

Let’s start with the Critical Controls – the bread and butter of cybersecurity:

  1. Stay Updated: Keep those software updates rolling in. Think of it as giving your digital tools a little tune-up to keep them running smoothly.
  2. Lock It Down with Strong Passwords: Say goodbye to “password123” and hello to strong, unique passwords. It’s like putting a sturdy lock on your digital door.
  3. Embrace Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Think of MFA as adding an extra layer of security to your online accounts. Trust me, it’s worth the extra step.

Secure Your Technology: Building Strong Defenses

Now, onto System Controls – the nuts and bolts of your cyber defences:

  1. Arm Your Systems: Keep those security tools up-to-date and limit access to sensitive data. It’s like putting up digital barriers to keep the bad guys out.
  2. Encrypt Everything: Treat your data like precious cargo. Encrypt it, handle it carefully, and keep only what you need.
  3. Back It Up: Remember to back up your data regularly. It’s like having a safety net for your digital files.

Behavioural Controls: Your Team’s Cyber Allies

Finally, Behavioral Controls – because your team is your strongest line of defence:

  1. Educate and Train: Equip your team with the knowledge they need to stay safe online. Give them a map to navigate the digital landscape.
  2. Have a Plan: Prepare for the unexpected. Have a plan for when things go wrong, and make sure everyone knows their role.

Minimum Cybersecurity Expectations: Your Legal Lifeline

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. The VLSB Minimum Cyber Expectations are here to guide us, outlining the basic controls we need to implement to protect our client’s data and uphold professional standards.

Critical System Controls: These are the must-haves, the safeguards that form the backbone of your cybersecurity defense. Without them, your practice is vulnerable. Make them your top priority.

Engaging an IT Security Consultant: Your Cyber Ally

Fear not if you are scratching your head over these expectations or need help figuring out where to start. It’s time to call in an IT security consultant. We are the experts who can help you understand and implement the controls tailored to your practice’s needs.

Your Next Steps:

So, what’s next? Use the tables below as your guide and ensure you’re immediately ticking off those critical system controls.

Remember, cybersecurity isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Consider your practice’s size, work type, and clients when implementing additional security measures.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or need a helping hand, don’t hesitate to contact your professional association or an IT professional. We at Neo Technologies are a partner of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, a federal government agency that keeps Australia safe from threats online.

We can confidently navigate these digital standards with the VLSB Minimum Cyber Expectations as our compass and an IT security consultant as our guide. Together, we’ll safeguard what matters most—the trust and confidence of those we serve.

To download a clearer PDF version of the standards below, click here – VLSB+C_Minimum_Cybersecurity_Expectations





Julie Dunmore

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