Lawyers, accountants, and consultants would do anything to protect their clients. Unfortunately, many professional services firms don’t fully understand how data breaches and identity theft can impact their customers, employees, and profits.

In today’s digital era, this is a luxury no company can afford. Please join us as we take a closer look at how cybercrime affects the professional services sector, why their employees are so targeted, and what steps you can take to help protect your clients.

Let’s dive in!

The professional services sector is at risk

Of all the risks professional services firms face, data breaches and identity theft have proven to be among the most pervasive and destructive.

In 2017, there were 540 security incidents and more than 130 confirmed data breaches — a roughly 18 percent increase from the previous year. Law firms were especially affected: According to the American Bar Association, nearly a quarter of all law firms experienced a data breach in 2017.

Regardless of industry, the vast majority of breaches were financially motivated.

Why are professional services employees so targeted?

Professional services firms are targeted largely due to the types of data they maintain on employees, clients, and customers. This might include client banking information, government secrets, corporate documents, and even healthcare records.

This information is highly valuable to crooks, who can easily sell the data on the dark web. Cybercriminals are also known to sell the information back to the company they stole it from, in exchange for a hefty ransom and no real guarantee that the data is safe.

For-profit cybercriminals aren’t the only ones targeting professional services firms and their employees. Espionage is also a significant cause of data breaches, accounting for 21 percent of all sector breaches last year.

Another contributing factor is the sheer volume of data professional services firms collect. Just one employee can have access to millions of sensitive records — making them a tremendous target for cybercriminals. In fact, stolen employee credentials was the number one cause of all data breaches in 2017.

Firms often unprepared for data compromises

Despite being frequent targets, professional services firms are rarely prepared for data breaches and identity theft. When the ABA conducted a study involving 90,000 attorneys, they discovered that nearly half did not have a data breach plan in place.

Professional services firms also struggled when it came to detecting data breaches. In 2016, just 40 percent of breached law firms were aware that a compromise had occurred.

It’s not just law firms that are suffering; accounting firms are also taking a big hit. Deloitte experienced an unprecedented attack in 2016, when hackers accessed more than 240,000 employee email accounts and gained privileged information on more than 350 U.S. firms.

How you can protect clients in the professional services sector

The good news is there are actions you can take to help protect your clients in the professional services sector. One of the best ways they can safeguard their employees, clients, and company’s bottom line is by investing in a quality employee identity protection benefit.

You can learn more by downloading our complimentary one-sheet, Data Breaches, Security Incidents, and Employee Identity Theft in the Professional Services Sector. This guide is loaded with great information you can use when relaying the dangers of identity theft and the power of employee identity protection.

If identity protection isn’t yet a part of your portfolio, contact us at 1.480.302.6701.