Imagine, for a minute, that you’re the Managing partner of a scrappy, promising new start-up law firm. In the beginning, it was just you and two other attorneys working on the old used Macs you’ve used since law school out of a 12-by-12-foot office, but times are picking up and the firm is heading into the uncharted waters of rapid growth.

As the firm moves into the public eye — and, in turn, the hungry eyes of potential hackers — it’s become obvious that you’re going to need to lock down your data. At this critical stage, a cyber-attack could mean the death of everything you and your team have built.

But the budget is looking lean. Everything you’ve done so far has been by the skin of your teeth, taking care of all the IT yourself, so why should security be any different? You put one of your more tech-savvy employees on the case, tasking him with finding the cheapest cyber security solutions available. Sure, he may not be an expert, but he understands computers. What could go wrong?

He scours the web, perusing dozens of “Top 5 Cheap Firewall Software” articles, and, with the help of a scrappy how-to guide, installs what seems to be the best of the lot on your servers and across all your computers. The entire process takes 10 hours, and costs the firm next to nothing.

Potential crisis averted, you turn your attention to other matters. We’ll revisit our cyber security later, you think, once we have a little more financial wiggle room.

Across the following year, the firm’s success skyrockets. The phone is ringing off the hook, new business is flooding in and your profit margin is exploding. You even ended up snagging a spot on the LawFirm 500, an honor bestowed upon the fastest growing law firms in America. Your law firm is the envy of all your peers.

That is, until the day that you get hacked. One morning, a hacker spear-phishes one of your staff, and unbeknownst to them, they hand over their email credentials. They don’t even know it happened and weeks later, you receive an email from that employee, requesting to transfer funds into a routing number, which is a common occurrence.  You’re swamped due to all the growth and complete the transfer of funds. Later that day you make a comment to your employee that you made the transfer – and that’s when the employee tells you they never requested a transfer.  A hacker has sat in your email for weeks to learn email patterns and when the timing was right sent the request, knowing you were busy, and as soon as you replied that it was done, they deleted the response immediately. Too late now, your firm just lost $50,000, gone forever, with nothing that can be done.

You couldn’t make room in your budget for a robust cyber security solution. Well, how does that $50K strike you?

This may sound like nothing more than a horror story, but in reality, this happens to business owners all over the world each and every day. An IBM security study from last December discovered that over half of businesses surveyed had paid over $10,000 in ransomware payoffs, with 20% paying over $40,000. And that’s not even including the millions of dollars of damage caused by other forms of malicious software every year.

The fact is, when your time, money and business are on the line, it simply doesn’t pay to be cheap when choosing your cyber security technology.

Think of it this way. Say, with your free antivirus, you’re “saving” $100 a month. Lo and behold, a virus manages to punch its way through and causes chaos throughout the company server. Even if you’re lucky and it isn’t ransomware, by the time you’ve managed to expunge the stubborn virus from your business, you’ll have put in countless man-hours, guaranteed to cost you more than that $100 a month. Instead of throwing those thousands of dollars down the drain, you’d be better off giving each of your employees a $1,000 bonus!

Free antivirus software, giveaway cyber-protection, or a $5 firewall seems like a great idea, until a hacker cuts through your law firm's defenses like a warm knife through butter. These guys love when they see these outdated, cheapo barriers guarding your priceless data — those are the paper-thin defenses that keep hackers in business.

You wouldn’t buy a rusty, secondhand old lock for your house, so why are you installing primitive cyber security software to protect your most precious company resources?

In today’s world of rampant cybercrime, it’s inevitable that somebody will come knocking at your digital door. When that day comes, do you want a free piece of software that you saw on LifeHacker, or a tried-and-tested, up-to-the-minute, comprehensive security solution?

Don’t be shortsighted and risk everything just to save a quick buck. Invest in your law firm's future, and protect yourself with the most powerful tools on the market.

Yours truly,

Tom Lambotte