Peter Maloney - GlobalX CEO

Australians are paying upwards of $17 billion per year to combat the rising impact of cyber-crime, but worryingly one in three law firms are not investing in regular cyber-security training.

Recent research by leading legal technology experts GlobalX and peak industry body the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA) has revealed that one third of Australasian legal firms are spending no time on cyber security training.

GlobalX CEO Peter Maloney said this statistic highlighted the need for law firms to invest in cyber security training and technology to mitigate risks posed to law firms and their clients.  

“Lawyers and conveyancers host a vast amount of personally identifiable information (PII) which heightens their risk of cyber-attacks in an increasingly digitised world,” Mr. Maloney said.

“The research shows 79 percent of legal professionals are concerned about cyber-security but only 21 percent are confident that their firm can handle a cyber-attack.

“We see both obsolete and new technology as a major cause of breaches. In 2018 there have been an unprecedented volume of cyber security breaches involving a property transaction whereby a consumer has lost the funds to settle a property transaction. Legal firms cannot simply rely on a software vendor, they must wrap their technology investments in advanced proactive and reactive monitoring software and extensive staff training.

“It is clear that the lack of investment in regular cyber-security training and slow adoption of modern technology is leaving an open door for cyber-criminals.”

Deloitte Asia Pacific Leader for Cyber Risk James Nunn-Price said that this rising trend posed a multi-million-dollar risk to the industry.

“The industry needs to avoid being the weak link as enterprises and end clients invest in cyber security. Ransomware, often used to take over email communications between parties, is one of the most prevalent global cyber-crime threats and currently costs the Australasian legal industry millions annually,” Mr. Nunn-Price said.

“These criminals can request large sums of money before returning access to confidential client information, meanwhile this data can be used for insider trading and identity fraud.”

As more conveyancers and lawyers digitise their firms, Mr. Maloney said that firms must take a deeper look at how they are protecting their most valuable assets.

“GlobalX works closely with the legal industry to develop technology that increases efficiency and secures confidential client information,” Mr. Maloney said.

“While the majority of legal firms are aware of the Notifiable Data Breach Scheme, the research shows that simple awareness is not enough to protect firms against cyber-security risks.

“Our industry needs to invest in regular cyber-security training and modern technology to protect against the second most reported economic crime.”