Hello and welcome to the Fides Weekly Update. Take a look at this week’s key trends, moves and developments in legal and compliance.
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1. GCHQ reports growing cyber threat to legal profession
A new report by the National Cyber Security Centre (part of GCHQ) has outlined some of the key cyber risks UK law firms are facing.
Citing phishing attacks, data breaches, ransomware attacks and a compromised supply chain as the main threats specific to the legal sector, the report provides practical guidance on how to mitigate these risks as well as highlights the areas that are most ripe for exploitation.
“There has been some growth in the hacktivist community targeting law firms to achieve political, economic or ideological ends.”
It highlights that threats to law firms no longer come from those looking for financial gain, but also span out to nation states, who are “likely to play an increasingly significant role in cyber attacks at a global level, to gain strategic and economic advantage.”
The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA) has been monitoring the levels of attacks in the legal sector, reporting that the amount stolen from law firms through phishing in the first quarter of 2017 was 300% higher than the previous year. Whilst many cyber attacks on law firms aren’t divulged to the SRA, the organisation has noted £11m worth of losses through reported cases from April 2016 to March 2017.
Along with guidelines of how to avoid common scams, the report details previous law firm attacks, using them as example case studies to show why each case was a target and how the attack took place.
The two most high-profile cyber attacks to be publicised the legal profession to date are the Panama Papers scandal and DLA Piper’s WannaCry attack, resulting in Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca eventually closing its doors, and DLA suffering a loss of its operations for nearly two weeks. As more firms begin to explore technological advancements such as AI, blockchain and remote working, they must be aware that these could not only help thwart such attacks in the future, but could be targeted by attackers for malicious purposes also.
Movers & Shakers of the week
King & Spalding partner Stephen Kelly and of counsel Sarah-Jane Mahood, now a national partner, are set to join Dechert’s ranks in the Middle East, bringing the firm’s Dubai headcount up to 12 lawyers
Restructuring partner Nick Segal leaves Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to join Erskine Chambers as a barrister
TalkTalk legal director Nadia Hoosen has joined breakdown cover provider AA as its new general counsel
DiAnna Thimjon has been hired to take over from Chris White as Clyde & Co’s global head of data and IT strategy
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has added Mukul Chawla QC to its partnership as head of the London corporate crime team