The Law Council of Australia urged lawyers to take action against cyber attacks, saying the threat of these attacks has grown “exponentially”.
“With concerns about cyber security rising across all sectors of the economy, we should be particularly concerned about the very sensitive information held by lawyers that we know is seen as a real prize for cyber criminals,” LCA president Stuart Clark AM said.
“Law firms face a number of challenges. Like every other business, they are a target for cyber criminals trying to defraud the firm or extract a cyber ransom payment.
“They are also the target for cyber criminals who want to steal information. Law firms and lawyers hold sensitive client business information and intellectual property.”
Mr Clark said lawyers who have corporate clients are a prominent target for cybercrime activity.
“Corporate clients, in particular, will often share market-sensitive information, for example information about mergers and acquisitions, that could be stolen and used for insider trading,” he said.
“There is also litigation and negotiation strategies, settlement parameters and analysis of evidence that can be used by an opponent.
“These threats fundamentally strike at the core of what it is that we do as legal professionals because client confidentiality lies at the very foundation of the client-lawyer relationship.”
Mr Clark said lawyers need to actively address their own and their clients’ risk of cyber security attacks.
“Lawyers must be able to demonstrate to their clients and regulators that they understand the nature of risk and are taking action to address the threat,” he said.
To help combat the risk, the Law Council will launch a national cyber security information campaign for the legal profession.
To facilitate this campaign, the LCA has been working in partnership with the legal profession, cyber security experts and the government.
The campaign is expected to be rolled out by the end of 2016.