find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Firms at risk of cyber blackmail

Firms at risk of cyber blackmail

Law firms are failing to protect their client data adequately, leaving them open to litigation and even ransom demands, a security expert warns.

Dr Suresh Hungenahally, chief information security officer at the Victorian Government’s department of state development, told Lawyers Weekly many firms are vulnerable to major breaches of data privacy.

“When we talk about lawyers and law firms, the three major issues they are facing is being exposed to litigation within seconds; they could compromise their client data very easily; and their business could be shut down with a loss of licence to practice law,” Dr Hungenahally said.

In particular, he warned against “ransom raids” if hackers gain access to a firm’s system.

“In a ransom raid, someone steals your data, encrypts it and demands $30,000 for the key to open it. It happens every day in Australia.”

In his experience, regulators come down hard on firms that breach data privacy, often acting immediately if a breach is reported.

A mistake that can lead to security lapses is sending unencrypted emails, which potentially allows third parties to intercept the messages.

Dr Hungenahally also suggested data leakage was a “huge problem” within firms, with lawyers accessing files using unprotected wi-fi networks or mobile phones, personal laptops or USB drives.

To protect data, he urged firms to implement a security management system “where people, process and technology are all involved in ensuring your practice and your clients are all protected against information theft”.

As part of this system, he encouraged the use of “hard controls” such as storing data on a cloud service provider or automatically classifying documents with software.

Document classification – where documents are marked as confidential or sensitive – gives lawyers legal recourse in the event of a security breach, he said.

“If you do not put any classification, anybody can come in and legally access that information, leaving you with no grounds to take them to court. It doesn't cost a lot, maybe a couple of grand, but in a litigation preparation of documents will cost $10,000 alone.”

He also urged firms to carry out an annual audit of their security procedures, including penetration testing where an expert tries to access their system to identify weaknesses.

“It's better to mitigate than to litigate,” Dr Hungenahally said. “Security goes beyond compliance. If you don't comply, you get a fine. If you have a security breach, you could lose your entire practice, no matter how small or big you are.”

Dr Hungenahally will run webinars on cybersecurity via CPD for Me throughout July, August and September.

 

 

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Firms at risk of cyber blackmail
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Quentin Bryce
Oct 18 2017
DV has worsened in a generation: Quentin Bryce
Former governor-general of Australia Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO has spoken of her deep distress about...
Lawyers
Oct 18 2017
Academics entertain the idea of law without lawyers
Researchers from Queensland will explore some of the most disruptive trends tipped to transform the ...
Please, Continue (Hamlet), Melbourne Festival
Oct 16 2017
Hamlet suffers slings and arrows of top Victorian barristers
Victorian judges and barristers have performed the unique play Please, Continue (Hamlet) at the Melb...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...