The Law Society of Western Australia has partnered with Edith Cowan University on research into the cyber security practices of lawyers.
Professor Craig Valli, Associate Professor Mike Johnstone and Ms Rochelle Fleming from Edith Cowan University’s Security Research Institute (ECUSRI) surveyed 122 Law Society members on their cyber security practices.
The findings revealed:
- 11 percent of those surveyed had no anti-virus protection on their work computer
- 41 percent did not know what cyber security countermeasures were in place on their smartphones
- 64 percent reported using home or free public Wi-Fi
- 41 percent didn’t have automatic updates switched on for their work computer
- 53 percent forward work-related emails to a non-business email account (Gmail or Hotmail)
- 94 percent use email to send confidential data
- Only 9.4 percent use encryption to protect client data
Law Society President Hayley Cormann said, “The Law Society is delighted to partner with Edith Cowan University in the vitally important area of cyber security. Given that lawyers regularly handle sensitive information, it is crucial that they follow best practice in order to protect their clients and their own firms.
“A key component of the research project was the provision of intervention training by the Law Society in response to the survey findings and analysis of the results. This special training was offered as part of our Continuing Professional Development programme in areas such as ‘Using Encryption’ and ‘Mobile Device Protection’. Cyber security will continue to be an important focus of our education programmes going forward,” Ms Cormann said.
The research identified five key areas for immediate improvement:
- Turn on automatic software updates on all devices
- Utilise cybersecurity countermeasures like antivirus and firewalls on computers and smartphones
- Encrypt sensitive client data, especially when sent via email
- Limit use of third-party email services such as Gmail and Hotmail
- Report cyberattacks to government initiatives such as the Australian CyberCrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN)
The survey findings were recently presented by Edith Cowan University to an international audience at the Association of Digital Forensics, Security and Law Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
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About us: The Law Society of Western Australia is the peak professional association for lawyers in the State. The Law Society is a not-for-profit association dedicated to the representation of its more than 4,000 members. The Law Society enhances the legal profession through its position as a respected leader and contributor on law reform, access to justice and the rule of law. The Law Society is widely acknowledged by the legal profession, government and the community as the voice of the legal profession in Western Australia.