Articles
March 11, 2020

Cybersecurity 101 for corporate paralegals

When your day job consists of being neck-deep in corporate compliance matters, you could be forgiven for leaving cybersecurity to the IT professionals. But take note, paralegals: the world of cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important to governance and compliance professionals, and the whole company must be knowledgeable and vigilant to ensure any breaches are caught early, before they become major issues.

Cybersecurity breaches are one of the biggest risks corporates face in the modern age. It’s a topic that can no longer be relegated to the IT department; it’s a risk that must be managed across the organization. Look at the security breach that led to the publishing of the Panama Papers: decades’ worth of client history from one law firm, Mossack Fonseca, lost because of an inside leak. Paralegals - and everyone within an organization - must be aware of cybersecurity best practices as well as championing the investment in market-leading secure technology.

This is more than just a buzzword or the latest tech jargon; it’s an essential part of modern corporate life. Let’s take a whistlestop tour through the basics of cybersecurity for in-house corporate paralegals, and how it relates to their legal entity management duties.

What is cybersecurity?

In short, cyber security is the practices employed to keep an organization’s internal systems, information and documents safe from getting into the wrong hands.

What are the cyber risks in legal entity management?

In-house lawyers and paralegals handle some of the organization’s most sensitive and confidential information, and so are prime targets for cyber criminals. The risk areas to consider, according to the Law Society of Scotland, include computers and IT systems; your staff and contractors; personal mobile phones and devices; cloud portals and platforms; remote and home working; data transfer and storage; and the firm’s public website.

The legal sector faces three main cybersecurity risks, according to Doherty Associates:

  • Ransomware: Software that seeks to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access to computer systems, ransomware and malware can literally hold your systems to ransom for a sum of money. 
  • DDoS attacks: A Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attack involves a concentrated overloading of a business’s servers in order to cause downtime. It’s often carried out by activist groups, and can result in your systems being down for a prolonged period.
  • Friday afternoon fraud: Named for the time when conveyancing deals often complete, this cyber risk involves hackers accessing systems to steal client monies sitting awaiting completion, often by altering email correspondence. 
How can paralegals help to mitigate these cyber risks?

Paralegals are prime targets for hackers - they handle plenty of confidential data, but are often less sophisticated when it comes to security practices online. Every day, paralegals are on the frontlines of major security threats, and they must be vigilant in awareness about the sites they visit, the software they download and use, and the links they click on. 

 Some of the most frequent ways bad actors will try to gain access to the in-house systems is by sending phishing emails or trying to guess passwords. To help miitgate risks, check attachments before opening them from emails, and make sure email addresses and links are genuine. Ensure there is a strong password policy in-house, and work with the risk management team to put one in place if it’s absent. If in doubt, ask your in-house security team about, for example, how to spot a phishing attempt.

Of course, the best way to protect the corporate record and other sensitive data is to ensure it’s stored in a robust system that is compliant with all of the best security protocols. This is where legal tech can help the corporate paralegal to ensure top notch cybersecurity policies and practices - by working in an IT-approved, secure, cloud-based legal entity management system. 

Build the business case for legal tech by talking the language of the IT department

When it comes to cybersecurity and the in-house corporate paralegal, a little knowledge can go a long way. For example, knowing the impact that a cloud-based entity management solution can have on the organization both in terms of day to day operations as well as the security of the corporate record can help you to build your business case for legaltech. By talking in the language of IT, and by showing your system of choice will actually help make in-house tech more efficient and more secure, you’re more likely to win over the CISO.

The cloud-based Athennian subsidiary management platform has been built to make tracking legal structures less of a burden, but also built with top-level cybersecurity at its core. For the paralegal, it can help to ease the burden of compliance operations by making it easy to track thousands of filing and compliance events across entities and jurisdictions using automated reminders, email notifications, data reports and more. Meanwhile, the IT and security teams can rest assured knowing the system driving entity management hits all the right compliance notes, from SOC2 to ISO 27001 and beyond.

Discover how we can help your in-house legal operations team to be both more efficient and more secure; book a demo to see how the Athennian subsidiary management platform can help paralegals to build the business case for legal tech.

About Athennian

Athennian.com is the top reviewed legal entity management cloud platform for law firms and in-house corporate teams. Athennian is used by innovative organizations that value modern software with elegant automation and workflows. Integrating entity data management, document assembly, eSign, org charts, and e-file, Athennian is selected by leading law firms and corporate legal and tax teams to scale legal entity governance. Athennian offers rapid migration services for customers from any legacy database including ALF, CorpLink, EnAct, GlobalAct, EnGlobe, FastCompany, Corporate Focus, Blueprint (Diligent Entities), GEMS, hCue, Effacts and more.


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Associate, Momentum Business Law
(5 star review on October 28, 2019)