From Burden to Boon: SaaS Rescues Law Firms from Server Woes

by: NebuLAW Team

Cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for law firms in the face of escalating data breaches and cyber-attacks. These threats pose significant risks, including stolen data, disrupted operations, and reputational damage. Notable incidents like the Paradise Papers data breach and the DLA Piper ransomware attack underscore the urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures. Law firms must implement strong firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and data encryption as a baseline to protect traditional systems against unauthorized access and data breaches.

We’ll delve into the significant advantages of SaaS over self-hosted servers, exploring real-life case studies from law firms that have faced severe data breaches in the past.

Automated Updates

Software as a Service (SaaS) plays a crucial role in keeping companies’ security up to date automatically. SaaS providers are responsible for maintaining and updating their software, which means that companies using SaaS solutions do not have to worry about keeping their software up to date. This can save companies a significant amount of time and resources.

In addition, SaaS providers often have access to the latest security technologies and expertise, which means that they can provide companies with the best possible protection against the latest threats. SaaS providers also have a vested interest in protecting their customers’ data, as their reputation depends on it.

The persistent upkeep of server infrastructure presents a significant challenge for numerous large enterprises, underscored by recent security breaches stemming from delayed updates. This vulnerability extends beyond self-managed systems to encompass managed services and outsourced data centres. Upon discovery of an exploit, threat actors can swiftly exploit vulnerabilities across entire data centre environments, resulting in substantial data breaches and financial losses, often reaching tens of millions of dollars.

SaaS solutions address these concerns by implementing universal patches promptly upon identification of vulnerabilities, ensuring swift and comprehensive updates across all user environments. Additionally, leveraging non-standard operating systems mitigates the impact of common exploits targeting Windows and Linux platforms, bolstering overall security posture.

Regulatory Compliance

NebuLAW provides several features that help companies comply with various regulations and standards. The platform offers robust security measures to protect customer data and complies with various privacy regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA. It provides tools and features to manage data subject rights, permissions, consent, and data retention policies. Compliance dashboards and reporting allow companies to monitor and demonstrate adherence to regulatory requirements. NebuLAW also maintains an audit trail that logs user activity, system changes, and data access, which helps with tracking data modifications and supporting compliance audits.

Scalability Made Simple

SaaS solutions offer superior scalability compared to self-hosted servers due to their fundamental advantages:

Centralized Management and Cloud Infrastructure: SaaS vendors host and manage the software and infrastructure, freeing businesses from the burden of maintaining hardware and software. This centralized approach enables seamless scalability, as businesses can adjust their usage based on demand without investing in additional resources. Moreover, SaaS solutions are often built on cloud infrastructure, which provides vast resources that can be allocated on demand, ensuring optimal performance even during periods of high traffic or data load.

Elasticity and Adaptability: SaaS solutions offer elasticity, allowing businesses to scale their usage up or down based on demand. This is particularly beneficial for businesses with fluctuating workloads or seasonal demand. The ability to adjust usage on the fly ensures that businesses can optimize their resource allocation and avoid overprovisioning or underutilization.

Security and Reliability: SaaS vendors often invest heavily in security and reliability, providing businesses with access to robust security measures and redundant infrastructure. This reduces the risk of data breaches or downtime, ensuring that businesses can operate with confidence and focus on their core competencies.

Hidden Expenses

Self-hosted servers, while offering greater control and flexibility, also come with a number of hidden expenses that can significantly impact businesses:

Infrastructure and Maintenance Costs: Self-hosted servers require a significant upfront investment in hardware, software licenses, and data centre space. Businesses must also allocate resources for ongoing maintenance, including system updates, security patches, and hardware upgrades. These expenses can accumulate over time and impact the overall cost-effectiveness of self-hosted solutions.

Power Consumption and Cooling: Servers consume a significant amount of electricity, which can add to operating expenses. Additionally, servers generate heat, requiring specialized cooling systems to maintain optimal operating temperatures. The cost of power consumption and cooling can be substantial, especially for businesses operating large data centers.

Security and Compliance: Self-hosted servers require businesses to implement and maintain robust security measures to protect against data breaches and cyber threats. This includes investing in security software, hiring specialized personnel, and conducting regular security audits. The cost of security and compliance can be significant, especially for businesses operating in highly regulated industries.

Personnel and Training: Self-hosted servers require dedicated IT staff to manage and maintain the infrastructure. This includes system administrators, engineers, and security specialists. Businesses must invest in training and development to ensure that their IT staff possess the necessary skills and expertise. The cost of personnel and training can be a significant ongoing expense.

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Businesses must establish comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery plans to ensure data protection and minimize downtime in the event of unforeseen circumstances. This may involve investing in backup systems and disaster recovery sites and implementing business continuity procedures. The cost of business continuity and disaster recovery can be substantial, especially for businesses that rely heavily on their IT infrastructure.

These hidden expenses can add up to a significant cost burden for businesses considering self-hosted servers. It is crucial to carefully assess the total cost of ownership before making a decision, considering both the upfront investment and the ongoing expenses associated with self-hosted infrastructure.

Data breaches within law firms are more prevalent than commonly perceived, with escalating severity and repercussions for both clients and legal practitioners. Across various countries globally, regulatory bodies are intensifying penalties, while the expectation for law firms to adhere strictly to data protection standards continues to mount consistently.

Below are 10 synopses of noteworthy legal cases in recent years, illustrating the gravity of these breaches. Moreover, it’s important to note that smaller-scale data breaches occur with greater frequency and may not always be publicly disclosed, as evidenced by the discretion exercised by some high-profile firms in reporting their own breaches.

1. Mossack Fonseca (Panama Papers)

  • Type: Data breach
  • Location: Panama City, Panama
  • Cost: Firm closed in March 2018
  • People affected: 300,000+
  • Summary: In 2016, Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm, suffered one of the biggest data breaches in history. The attack exposed more than 11 million confidential documents, known as the Panama Papers. These documents revealed how wealthy individuals and politicians worldwide used offshore shell companies to hide their assets and avoid taxes. The leak resulted in the resignation of several world leaders and a massive international investigation.

2. Appleby (Paradise Papers)

  • Type: Hack or insider attack
  • Location: Bermuda
  • Cost: Undisclosed
  • People affected: 120,000+
  • Summary: In 2017, the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby suffered a major data breach of more than 1.3 million documents, known as the Paradise Papers. These documents exposed the offshore financial activities of several high-profile individuals and corporations, including the Queen of England and Apple Inc.

3. DLA Piper

  • Type: Ransomware attack
  • Location: Ukraine, then global
  • Cost: Millions of dollars in billable hours and restoration time
  • People and companies affected: Unknown
  • Summary: In June 2017, DLA Piper, a multinational law firm, was the victim of a ransomware attack that first struck its Ukrainian offices while upgrading its payroll software. The attack involved malware known as NotPetya. As a result of the attack, DLA Piper employees worldwide could not use the firm’s telephones or email system, and some struggled to access certain documents. However, the firm states it did not lose data and its backups remained intact.

4. Cravath Swaine & Moore and Weil Gotshal & Manges

  • Type: Malware and other undisclosed methods
  • Location: New York
  • Cost: $4+ million
  • People and companies affected: Undisclosed
  • Summary: Three Chinese nationals targeted the law firms of Cravath Swaine & Moore and Weil Gotshal & Manges to engage in insider trading and gather confidential information regarding pending mergers and acquisitions. According to the U.S. government, Iat Hong, Bo Zheng, and Chin Hung earned over $4 million in profits while trading on information they stole from the law firms. To gather such information, the perpetrators used their unauthorized access to read emails belonging to partners at both firms about pending transactions involving public companies.

5. Moses Afonso Ryan Ltd.

  • Type: Ransomware attack
  • Location: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Cost: At least $700,000
  • People and companies affected: Unknown
  • Summary: Moses Afonso Ryan Ltd., a Rhode Island law firm, had its computer system hacked in April 2016. This attack exposed Social Security numbers, bank account information, and medical records of 1,500+ clients. After the system was taken offline, Moses Afonso Ryan Ltd.’s law firm had to negotiate a ransom with the hackers, costing them nearly $700,000 total- this included both their client billings and the ransom they paid.

6. Jenner & Block and Proskauer Rose

  • Type: Phishing
  • Location: Undisclosed
  • Cost: Undisclosed
  • People affected: 2,359
  • Summary: In 2017, Jenner & Block mistakenly sent employee W-2 forms to an unauthorized recipient in response to what looked like a legitimate request. This led to the inadvertent sharing of the personal information of 859 individuals, including their Social Security numbers and salaries. Proskauer Rose experienced something similar when they received what appeared to be a routine request from a senior executive within the firm. In this case, the attackers got control of more than 1,500 W-2s.

7. Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks

  • Type: Ransomware attack
  • Location: Undisclosed
  • Cost: Undisclosed
  • People and companies affected: Undisclosed
  • Summary: In May 2020, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, an entertainment law firm representing celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, was targeted by a ransomware attack. The hackers demanded $42 million for not releasing the stolen data, including social security numbers and contracts.

8. Campbell Conroy & O’Neil P.C.

  • Type: Ransomware attack
  • Location: Undisclosed
  • Cost: Undisclosed
  • People and companies affected: Unknown
  • Summary: Campbell Conroy & O’Neil P.C. fell victim to a Data Breach on February 27, 2021. After seeing the strange behavior, the company undertook an investigation that proved ransomware to be the reason. The initial payment demanded by the hackers was made in Bitcoin, followed by several additional payments later.

9. GozNym Malware

  • Type: Malware
  • Location: Washington D.C. and Wellesley, Massachusetts
  • Cost: $117,000
  • People and companies affected: Undisclosed
  • Summary: In 2016, two law firms were attacked with GozNym malware, which allows criminals to steal banking login and password information. To get victims to provide their banking credentials, the criminals sent a phishing email directing recipients to web pages that looked like their bank’s website. The scheme used keystroke logging, which recorded the keys entered when victims visited the fake bank site. It then sent that information secretly to the cyber breach criminals.

10. Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy

  • Type: Data breach
  • Location: Undisclosed
  • Cost: Undisclosed
  • People affected: 10,000+
  • Summary: On September 24th, 2020, the law firm Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy was subject to a data breach. This security issue primarily involved ex and current Google employees’ personal information. Several driver’s license numbers and other personally identifiable information were in an accessible file for anyone outside the company. Doing this means any Google employee is at a higher risk for identity theft or fraud.

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