CryptoLocker is Attacking Law Firm Data


CyrptoLocker is not a new threat, but one that has picked up some steam in the legal industry. It seems that these hackers have realized the sensitive nature of law firm data and have decided to hone in a bit more into this industry.

It’s probably the most popular ransomware and once it gets its hands on your system, it’ll hold your files hostage with near-unbreakable encryption and charge you a small fortune in Bitcoin to get them back.

The hackers have gotten smarter and are now taking their efforts to target law firms, the financial services industry and like the example below, the medical industry.

About a month ago hackers hit an LA Hospital and received $17,000 to restore the data.  CryptoLocker alone has resulted in millions of dollars for the hackers. There were reports stating that they amassed over $30 million in just a 100 days.

It’s a profitable business, and one that’s not going away.

How CryptoLocker Works

CryptoLocker is typically spread through emails sent to company email addresses. These emails seem like they’re customer support related issues from Fedex, UPS, DHL, etc. The email contains what looks like a pdf attachment and when it’s opened, it begins the process of hunting down your files and encrypting them.

Once the encryption process is complete, you’ll see the screen below on your monitor.

CryptoLocker Law Firm

The typical time that they seem to be offering users to pay the ransom is 72 hours. Enter an incorrect key and the time you have is reduced.

Data security experts have been pleading with people to not pay the ransomware to prevent the hackers from continuously profiting from these types of schemes.

But when you’re a law firm with ethical obligations to your clients and their data, what are you to do? Even the FBI is saying that paying the ransom may be the only option.

The best thing you can do is try and prevent it, or have a strong backup system in place to recover from it as quickly as possible. Even by paying the ransom you’re going to experience 3 – 4 hours of downtime.

One of the items that’s not as well known when dealing with CryptoLocker is that even after you pay the ransom, because of the methods used to encrypt the data, the decryption process might corrupt some of your data. This can potentially make parts of your data completely useless.

How to Keep Your Law Firm’s Data Safe

Many managing partners and attorneys I speak to don’t understand the substantial damage these threats can cause their business. It’s not just the bottom line, but also the credibility of the law firm that goes into question.

The first thing you need to know is how these threats work and take preventive measures to ensure your users know what to look out for.

Too many Law Firms are okay working with outdated software and hardware. Those same law firms usually don’t have a disaster recovery or business continuity plan in place either.

There are solutions out there that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

It’s true that where there’s confusion there’s profit. It’s especially relevant in the tech world where many would have to quit their full time jobs to study what various phrases and terminologies mean. But don’t let this deter you from the obligation you have to your clients and to keeping their data safe.

How would you explain to your most important client, why their data was lost or stolen?

As threats continue to evolve, most in-house law firm technology does not.

The best thing you can do is find a reputable partner or company that understands your industry and has your best interest in mind.

Hosted and managed private cloud solutions like the Abacus Private Cloud take the responsibility of keeping your data secured so you can focus on practicing law.

Vendors like Abacus can offer you enterprise level hardware and provide you with world class data security at a low monthly operating cost.

A client of mine that was hit by CryptoLocker two weeks ago was back up and running in 30 minutes. This proved to me that our disaster recovery systems work exactly the way they should.

My guide has a list of questions you should ask potential vendors when vetting them for business.

To Summarize

Law Firms need to take a hard look at their state of technology. Whether you do business with Abacus or not, you need to get professional insight to protect your business from these debilitating malware attacks and future threats that will continue to get more advanced.

When you’re hit with ransomware, and have ended up paying for it once; the hackers will know they can target you again for more money.

Have you been hit with CryptoLocker? I’d like to hear about what that recovery process looked like for you.