How to Implement a Password Policy and Protect Your Law Firm

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Passwords are the first line of defense against cyber attacks, so it’s critical that they are strong and secure. Although 91% of people know how important password security is, they will still use weak passwords that can be easily guessed or hacked—including in the workplace.

In 2020, 60% of users in data breaches reused the same password, which is extremely concerning for law firms that handle sensitive client information. On average, if passwords only contain numbers and are up to 18 characters, it can take a hacker up to nine months to find the password. An even weaker password with 10 characters and lowercase letters could be cracked instantly.

Why Do Law Firms Need Password Policies?

Law firms are especially prime targets for cybercrime because of the confidential nature of data they handle and store. In fact, 25% of lawyers said their firm experienced a data breach in 2021. 

If a law firm’s data falls into the wrong hands, it could be used to blackmail or extort clients, harm the firm’s reputation, or even lead to legal action against the firm. Not to mention, it will be costly—in 2021, the average cost of data breaches for law firms rose from $3.86 million to $4.24 million globally. 

Protecting your clients and law firm with a password policy is an important part of a firm’s cybersecurity strategy. Password policies help protect against unauthorized access to confidential data and are a set of guidelines for creating and managing passwords. It includes rules for choosing, storing, and sharing passwords. And it helps to ensure that passwords are not easily guessed or compromised.

What Does a Password Policy Include?

Strong passwords make it near impossible for cybercriminals to use brute force to gain access into a system. But how do you ensure that your employees have a solid guideline for creating hacker-resistant passwords?

Password policies can vary depending on the firm, but here are a few key components that should be included in every password policy.

  • Passwords must be at least eight characters long.
  • Passwords should not contain any person information.
  • New passwords should be unique from previously used passwords.
  • A strong password should contain different types of characters, including uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Passwords must not be shared with anyone.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA) must be used on all accounts (Microsoft reports that MFA alone prevents 99.9% of data breaches).

How to Best Implement a Password Policy

When implementing a password policy, it’s critical that you take these steps to ensure your law firm is well prepared to secure all passwords.

1. Communicate the Password Policy to All Employees

Make sure that everyone understands the rules for creating and managing passwords. Hold training sessions, if necessary, to ensure that everyone is up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to protect against them. Ensure that MFA is being used company-wide.

2. Set Up a Password Manager

A password manager is a software application that stores passwords and other sensitive information in a secure, encrypted database. Employees can use the password manager to create strong, unique passwords for all their accounts.

3. Use a Password Generator

When creating new passwords, use a password generator to create a random, secure password. Password managers usually include a password generator. If your password manager doesn’t, then make sure to use a reputable service.

4. Change Passwords Regularly

Passwords should be changed every three to six months, or sooner if they have been compromised. Employees should also be encouraged to change passwords if they suspect that their account has been hacked.

5. Set Account Lockout Threshold

If employees accidentally enter the wrong password, they will still be able to access their account. After a certain number of failed login attempts, the account should be locked out to prevent anyone from further attempts.

6.  Review and Update the Password Policy Frequently.

Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, so it’s important to keep your password policy up to date. Review it at least once a year, and make changes as needed.

By implementing a password policy, you can help to protect your law firm against cyber attacks. Password policies are an important part of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, and can go a long way in keeping confidential information safe.

Protect your Networks with Tech Rockstars

Here at Tech Rockstars, we are experts at helping law firms protect their data. We provide tailored digital security services, and we’ll work with you to ensure your networks remain strong and secure.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can keep your law firm safe from cyber threats.