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If you've ever had a personal email or social media account hacked, you know, basically, what to expect and do. You're not going to be able to log into your account, and you're going to get a handful of text messages, calls, or even emails from family, friends, colleagues, and potentially clients, asking if you've been hacked. You're going to get on the phone, or online chat, with tech support and prove you are the owner of the account. Then, there'll likely be a brief, or exceptionally long, wait before your services are restored.
The process is similar for a law firm, but a simple email hack could just be the precursor to a larger, more nefarious plan. From a law firm's perspective, there simply isn't anything worse than getting hacked, excepting disbarment of a partner or economic losses (which both could result from getting hacked). Some hacks are worse than others, and depending on the hack, what you do could be critical. Knowing how to recognize when you've been hacked is half the battle.
Below are examples of three of the worst types of hacks that target law firms.
A ransomware attack works by holding your computer system, network, and even mobile devices, hostage, so-to-say. Hackers will lock users out of their own systems and demand a ransom be paid in bitcoin or some other crypto-currency in order to unlock the network or device.
Though there is insurance for ransomware, it may not be as helpful as having secure and redundant backup systems in place.
A big target for data theft from law firms includes the firm's and the firm's clients' banking information. When hackers breach a law firm's data network, or client files, they are often looking for banking information that would facilitate large fraudulent transfers of funds.
If this information is stored digitally, it should minimally be stored behind some form of strong encryption, and maybe even kept off any network connected devices.
Law firms that do big business transactional work, particularly in the M&A arena, can find themselves susceptible to hacking from those who want to game Wall Street. Yes, it's very espionage-y, but it happens. Getting access to the lawyers' emails and files that contain confidential, inside information, allows these sophisticated hackers to make unfair, and illegal, investments and trades.
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