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Cybersecurity Compliance for UK Law Firms

Law firms are particularly susceptible to cybersecurity attacks as they store highly sensitive information regarding their clients and their court cases. Cybercriminals target law firms in the hope that they can infiltrate their systems, exfiltrate their data, then hold the firm to ransom for large sums of money. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, 75% of law firms have been the target of a cyber-attack. The SRA also found that 23 of 30 cases they analysed involved more than £4m of stolen client money.

Successful cybersecurity breaches are highly damaging for any business, however, attacks like these are particularly costly for law firms. The financial impact can be devastating, particularly for smaller firms, and the reputational impact could result in some firms going out of business.

Reducing the threat posed by cybercrime involves rigid compliance with the regulations, high-quality cybersecurity solutions, and training. For law firms based in the UK, there are various laws they must be compliant with. Here we look at the key regulations and guidelines, together with information on how firms can better protect themselves.  

Regulations and Guidelines for Law Firms in the UK

Achieving and surpassing cybersecurity compliance requires consideration of the following laws, regulations, and industry standards. All firms based in the UK need to consider, create procedures and technical measures around, the following:

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – While the GDPR is a European Union (EU) regulation, the UK has adopted its principles into domestic law after Brexit, with the UK GDPR. This regulation is all about the protection and free movement of personal data. Law firms, which often handle a lot of sensitive personal information, need to ensure they comply with GDPR requirements concerning data protection, data breaches, and the rights of data subjects.
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 – This UK-specific legislation complements and fills in the gaps of the UK GDPR. It provides more detailed provisions on data processing, data subject rights, and enforcement.
  • The Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulations 2018 – This regulation aims to raise the security standards of network and information systems across various sectors. While primarily targeting essential service providers and digital service providers, its focus on promoting cybersecurity can have implications for law firms as well.
  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations – The SRA sets standards for solicitors in England and Wales. As part of these standards, there are requirements relating to the protection of client money and data, which have cybersecurity implications. Law firms are obliged to report any breaches of these standards to the SRA.
  • Cyber Essentials – While not a regulation per se, Cyber Essentials is a UK government-backed scheme that sets out a baseline of cybersecurity for businesses. Achieving Cyber Essentials certification can demonstrate a firm’s commitment to cybersecurity, potentially providing a competitive advantage and reducing risk.
  • Legal Professional Privilege – While not a cybersecurity regulation, it’s worth noting that law firms have an ethical and legal obligation to protect communications between lawyers and their clients. Failing to maintain strong cybersecurity could compromise this privilege.
  • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Regulations – For law firms involved in certain financial transactions or advising on them, the FCA’s rules and guidance around data security may be relevant.
  • Other Industry-Specific Guidelines and Regulations – Depending on the areas of practice, law firms may also need to be aware of cybersecurity requirements in specific industries (for example, if they are dealing with healthcare or financial services clients).

For further information on maintaining cybersecurity compliance in the legal sector, this June 2023 report by the National Cyber Security Centre is very useful.

How can law firms ensure their cybersecurity procedures are compliant with all the regulations?

Key steps UK firms can take to improve their cybersecurity postures include the following:

Understand the Regulations

The first step is understanding which regulations apply to your law firm. For all UK-based firms, the GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018, and SRA regulations are essential. Engage in regular legal and regulatory updates, training, and consultations.

Conduct a Risk Assessment

Identify where personal and sensitive data is stored, processed, and transmitted within the firm. Assess current cybersecurity measures and identify vulnerabilities. Use this information to prioritise areas of improvement.

Develop and Implement Policies

  • Data protection policy – Outline how personal data should be processed and stored.
  • Incident response plan – Detail the steps to be taken in the event of a data breach or cyberattack.
  • Access control policy – Define who has access to which data and systems.
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy – If staff use personal devices for work, outline the security measures they must follow.

Technical Measures

  • Implement Firewall and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems – To protect against unauthorised access.
  • Use Encryption – Encrypt sensitive data, both at rest and in transit.
  • Regular Backups – Ensure data is regularly backed up and that backups are stored securely.
  • Multi-factor Authentication – Implement MFA for accessing the firm’s systems, especially for remote access.
  • Regularly Update and Patch Systems – Keep all software, including operating systems and applications, up to date.

Training and Awareness

Regularly train staff on cybersecurity best practices and the firm’s policies. This should cover topics like spotting phishing emails, proper data handling, and password best practices.

Vendors and Third Parties

Ensure that third-party vendors, such as cloud providers or IT service providers, also comply with the relevant regulations. This can be done through contractual clauses, audits, or third-party certifications.

Regular Audits

Periodically review and audit your cybersecurity measures to ensure compliance. This can be done internally or with the help of external experts.

Incident Response

Prepare for potential breaches by having a clear incident response plan. This should include processes for containment, eradication, recovery, and communication with stakeholders (including regulatory notifications if needed).


Consider cybersecurity or cyber liability insurance to mitigate financial risks associated with potential breaches or cyberattacks.

Stay Updated

The cybersecurity landscape, as well as regulations, are constantly evolving. Stay informed about new threats, best practices, and any changes in relevant regulations.

Seek Expertise

It can be beneficial to hire or consult with cybersecurity experts or legal consultants specialising in cybersecurity regulations. At help4IT, we provide a range of cybersecurity solutions that meet regulatory compliance requirements for the legal sector. Book a risk assessment with us today or visit our law firm IT support page for further details.

Why Schools Should Invest in Enhanced Cyber Security and Training

This year alone there have been numerous ransomware attacks on schools in the UK. This has raised a question as to whether schools and other educational facilities invest enough in their cyber security and staff training. The latest victim is UWS, University of West of Scotland who was targeted by a gang called Rhysida.

According to BBC news, Rhysida positioned itself as a cybersecurity team telling the organisation they were doing them a favour by pointing out vulnerabilities in their systems. However, the gang is demanding GBP 450,000 from UWS to prevent them from auctioning all the personal and other sensitive data they have stolen on the dark web.

What consequences can inadequate cybersecurity and training have?

If your school is hacked, it’s not only data that is affected. Rhysida’s attack affected staff laptops, shut down half of the IT systems, and affected student submissions. The university’s website was also down showing an error message due to the attack. This not only caused inconvenience to the staff and students but also put them in danger due to the sensitive data that was stolen. These attacks also impact in the long run the reputation of the school because it shows that there’s a lack of investment in security measures that prevent these attacks from succeeding.

What measures can you take to keep your school safe?

First and foremost, you need to have a proper cybersecurity strategy in place. Having regular cybersecurity assessments performed is the first step in developing a comprehensive strategy that is implemented in your school. Also having regular staff training and keeping your staff and student updated on the regulations and guidelines related to cybersecurity is vital for the overall safety of your school. Keep your devices and systems updated and ensure you have proper cyber security tools available that can detect and react to threats. It’s not enough that you have a firewall and hope for the best. A VPN solution and Microsoft Sentinel are things you will want to invest in to help safeguard your school. Also keeping your staff trained by professionals helps to mitigate risks of data breaches.

Talk to the help4IT cybersecurity team

Schools and other educational facilities have become one of the favourite targets for cybercriminals. If you want to keep your staff and students safe, you need to ensure that your staff are properly trained to spot possible attack attempts, have a robust cybersecurity strategy in place, keep all relevant people informed about regulations and guidelines in terms of cybersecurity, and keep your systems and cyber security tools updated always.

The team at help4IT can assist you with the implementation of all this and more for your school. Visit our Schools, Colleges, and Universities page for details.

Remember, attackers see schools as easy targets for their payday, so they come up with sophisticated and devastating ways to cause damage and extort them. To avoid this potential scenario, speak to our team today for advice on how you can better protect your staff and students.

Empowering Education: Choosing the Right IT Service Provider for Your School

According to Further Education News, 64% of schools are now embedding technology in everyday teaching and learning practices. In such a technology-driven landscape, schools rely heavily on IT services to provide an enriching learning environment that meets the needs of both staff and students.

If you are part of your school’s management team and you are seeking new IT providers to assist with the efficient management of your technology needs and IT infrastructure, you may find the following considerations useful.

Seek IT providers with experience in auditing education environments

A key step to optimising your use of technology is to thoroughly audit it. This includes your current infrastructure, devices, peripherals, and software. Consider areas that require improvement, such as network security, data storage, cloud services, and tech support for teachers and students. IT service providers with experience working in schools will be able to identify weaknesses in your existing set-up and make recommendations that will better meet the needs of staff and students.

Prioritise experience in the education sector

An IT service provider with experience in the education sector brings valuable insights into the unique challenges and requirements schools face. Look for providers who have worked with educational institutions like yours. Their familiarity with the industry will enable them to offer tailored solutions that align with your school’s goals and values.

Check for a proven track record and references

Research the reputation of potential IT service providers by reading testimonials and case studies from other schools they have worked with. Reach out to those institutions for feedback on their experiences. A reliable IT provider will have a strong track record of successful implementations and positive client relationships.

Evaluate cybersecurity measures

Security is a top concern in any educational setting, given the sensitive data relating to students and their families. In 2022, 14 schools in the UK were hacked and confidential data was leaked online. You will want to be confident that your IT service provider is doing everything they possibly can to avoid attacks like this. Ask them about their cybersecurity protocols, data encryption, and compliance with industry standards. A strong cybersecurity framework will protect your school’s digital assets and safeguard student privacy.

Consider support and responsiveness

Timely technical support is crucial for the uninterrupted functioning of a school. Ensure the IT service provider offers quick response times and a helpdesk that is available during school hours. Efficient support will enable teachers and staff to address tech-related issues promptly, fostering a productive learning environment.

Be prepared for the future demands of your school

As your school expands and integrates new technologies, it’s essential to choose an IT service provider that can scale their services accordingly. A flexible and forward-thinking provider will help your school accommodate future growth and technological advancements.

Review cost and budget compatibility

While budget is a significant consideration, focus on finding an IT service provider that offers the best value for your school’s needs. Evaluate the cost of services relative to the quality and range of offerings. Some providers may offer educational discounts or customisable packages to suit your budget constraints.

Align with your school’s educational vision

Choose an IT service provider that aligns with your school’s educational vision and goals. A partner who shares your commitment to enhancing the learning experience and supporting the academic community will be better equipped to serve your school’s unique requirements.

Find out how help4IT can assist your school

Selecting the right IT service provider is a pivotal decision for schools seeking to optimise their technological capabilities and enrich the learning experience. At help4IT, we have a strong track record in helping schools and colleges implement and maintain IT environments including new technologies, hardware, and software. Visit our IT support for schools page or contact us today for further information.

How to Choose an IT Service Provider for Your Charity

According to the Charities Aid Foundation, most charities embraced digital during Covid-19 and have continued to be reliant on advances in technology to be able to support their missions and make a meaningful impact on their communities.

An essential component in charities being able to maximise the benefits of technology is their partnership with an IT service provider. Choosing the right partner will likely enhance the organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness, whilst choosing one that is poorly aligned with the organisation’s goals will likely lead to unnecessary challenges.

If you are involved in the operations and management of a charity, and you are considering sourcing a new IT provider, you will want to pay some attention to the following areas.

Does your prospective IT provider understand your needs?

To answer this question, begin by evaluating your charity’s specific IT requirements. Consider your current technology infrastructure, future growth plans, and the challenges you aim to address. Are you looking for basic IT support, cloud solutions, cybersecurity, or a combination of services? Understanding your needs will help you communicate them effectively to potential IT service providers.

Look for experience in the nonprofit sector

Seek an IT support provider that has experience working with nonprofits and charities. Nonprofit organisations have distinct technology demands, including compliance, donor management, and fundraising systems. An IT provider with relevant experience will understand these unique requirements and offer tailored solutions that align with your charity’s goals.

Check for proven track record and references

Look for testimonials and case studies from other charities that the IT service provider has worked with. Reach out to those organisations to gather first-hand feedback on their experiences. A reliable IT provider will have a proven track record of successful implementations and positive client relationships.

Assess security and data protection measures

Security is a top priority for charities that handle sensitive donor information and confidential data. Inquire about the IT provider’s security protocols, encryption measures, and data protection practices. Ensure they comply with relevant regulations and demonstrate a commitment to safeguarding your charity’s information.

Evaluate responsiveness and support

Tech issues can occur at any time, potentially impacting your charity’s operations and communication with stakeholders. Therefore, your service provider needs to offer fast response times and 24/7 support. Timely assistance is crucial to minimise downtime and keep your charity running smoothly.

Consider scalability and futureproofing

As your charity grows and evolves, so will its IT needs. Choose an IT service provider that offers scalable solutions and can accommodate your organisation’s future requirements. A forward-thinking IT partner will help future-proof your charity’s technology infrastructure.

Review cost and pricing models

While budget is a significant factor, don’t solely focus on the cheapest option. Instead, consider the value and quality of services provided by the IT service provider. Some IT providers offer flexible pricing models or discounts for nonprofit organisations, making it worthwhile to explore your options.

Align with your charity’s mission and values:

Choose an IT service provider that aligns with your charity’s mission and values. A partner who shares your organisation’s passion for making a positive impact will be more invested in supporting your tech needs and contributing to your overall success.

Get in touch to find out more about our work in the charity sector

Selecting the right IT service provider is a critical decision for charities seeking to optimise their operations and fulfil their missions effectively. At help4IT, we have a long track record in assisting charities with improving their use of technology to help meet their end goals. You can find out more about this on our charity IT support page here. Alternatively, get in touch with our team to discuss how we can assist you today.

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