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No Surprise - Cyberattacks are Regularly Directed at Lawyers

03.31.15

Cybercrime estimated losses are as much as $2 trillion so it is no surprise that most law firms who hold client data and intellectual property are reluctant "to publicly discuss cyberintrusions and the lack of data breach reporting requirements in general in the legal industry" according to a recent internal report from Citigroup's cyberintelligence center as reported by the New York Times. The March 26, 2015 article entitled "Citigroup Report Chides Law Firms for Silence on Hackings" includes these examples of law firms that have had cyberattacks in 2012:

Fried Frank was the victim of a so-called watering hole attack in 2012 in which hackers infected its website with malware, an intrusive program that can be transferred to visitors to the site.

Covington & Burling, a large firm based in Washington, was used in a phishing campaign that appears to have been orchestrated by a "China-based group" of hackers. The report said the campaign, which typically involves sending fake but realistic looking email, may have been an effort to learn more about the law firm's prominent corporate clients given its work for military contractors and energy companies, including its work on several solar energy projects at the time.

However Fried Frank responded that it data network had "never been breached and client information has never been compromised."

Until lawyers learn how to communicate with IT and understand their risks these cyberattacks will continue even though the American Bar Association has established a Cybersecurity Task Force which published an excellent Handbook.

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