Why Cybercriminals Are Targeting Law Firms Now More Than Ever

Cybercriminals are now targeting law firms more than ever before. It’s a disturbing new trend that has lawyers, law firm partners, law firm owners, and many in the legal profession, in general, sitting up and taking notice. And it’s not just the big law firms that are being targeted; cybercriminals know that smaller firms lack proper cybersecurity preparedness and are thus easy prey.

One specific type of attack—called ransomware—is becoming more prevalent in recent years. Ransomware is malicious software used by cybercriminals to infect a company’s computer systems in order to restrict or encrypt user access to them until a ransom is paid to unlock it, hence the name.

This is a dangerous new development for every law firm because it can harm a firm’s reputation—a fact nowhere better illustrated than in the now-infamous May 2020 cyberattack on the world-renowned entertainment law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, which led to the organization having to release the following statement to the press:

We can confirm that we’ve been victimized by a cyber attack. We have notified our clients and our staff…and we are working around the clock to address these matters.

– GSMS Press Statement

(BACKGROUND: In May 2020, world-famous entertainment law firm Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks (GSMS) fell victim to a brutal and highly publicized ransomware attack by the infamous Russian “REvil” cybercriminal gang.

GSMS’s computer system was hijacked and REvil’s initial ransom demand of $21 million was doubled to $42 million after they found files related to Donald Trump.

GSMS lost sensitive data belonging to famous celebrities including Madonna, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, and Elton John. Since GSMS has still refused to pay, much of that stolen data is now public and available for purchase online.)

Although cybercrime isn’t new, it’s a relatively new problem for the legal profession. And it’s a bigger problem than many law firm owners and partners realize. A direct attack isn’t just a costly inconvenience—it can threaten the core of a law firm’s business. A cyberattack may result in:

  • Theft of client money and financial information
  • Breach of sensitive client data
  • Structural and financial instability
  • Interruption in business continuity
  • Long-term reputational damage, loss of clients, and new business
  • Damage to IT infrastructure

Why Are More Law Firms Now Being Targeted?

There are a number of reasons why cybercriminals are looking to victimize law firms:

  • Cybercriminals have exhausted Fortune 500 targets and have set their sights on unsuspecting small and mid-size companies that are less likely (than enterprise-level firms) to have full cyber protection.
  • The privileged and confidential nature of legal data—volumes of sensitive client and financial info that can be used for extortion or exploited for personal gain—makes law firms lucrative targets.
  • With remote workers logging in using unsecured home networks due to Covid, confidential data is easier to acquire.
  • Many law firms have outdated IT systems and are less likely than big corporations to have cyber protection.

What’s The Potential Long-Term Reputational Damage?

There are a number of factors to consider regarding long-term reputational damage:

  • A potential breach from a cyberattack could seriously cripple a firm’s hard-built reputation. Just one cyber attack can hurt a firm’s reputation forever, costing it current clients and new business opportunities.
  • Reputational damage can be serious because law firms are entrusted by their clients to keep sensitive data confidential and secure.
  • Data loss from an attack can damage relationships with clients, partners, suppliers, and stakeholders who may feel their data is not being protected effectively.
  • Data breaches can incur financial costs not only from a paid ransom but in regulatory fines and business downtime.

In the past year, we’ve seen a rise in cyberattacks hitting a variety of mid-market companies, law firms included. We have identified 5 critical holes that make these companies prime targets for an attack—and these holes should be buttoned up immediately.

If you would like to have a brief call to discuss these five items and to see if your company is at risk, please contact us. We can move quickly on helping you take corrective actions and reducing the probability of you and your company becoming the latest victim.

If you don’t know just how vulnerable you are, let us help you assess your IT environment and security posture so you can make better-informed decisions.

Call: 804-864-8511

Talk to Proxios

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