A cybersecurity expert has revealed that law firms are opening Bitcoin wallets that could potentially be used to pay ransom to cyber attackers. This decision comes as a preemptive measure to protect against the rising trend in cyber security attacks that steal valuable data from law firms and hold it ransom.
Law firms are becoming increasingly wary of this particular kind of ransom attack, as their reliance on email and other methods of electronic communication makes them particularly vulnerable. Hackers are often able to access confidential data through unencrypted email systems through which sensitive documents are sometimes sent.
“We are predicting there are going to be more sophisticated attempts to intrude at firms that work with highly visible clients whose IP or business information is extremely valuable,” said John Sweeney, president of the IT and cybersecurity advising firm LogicForce in an interview with Business Insider.
Taking Precautionary Measures is Important, But May Not Be That Effective
The decision to open the Bitcoin wallets comes just after the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby revealed that some of its clients’ data had been compromised in a security breach in 2016. While none of the data has been made public yet, Appleby is gravely concerned that their wealthier clients’ data may soon be leaked, and their financial secrets revealed.
Sweeney has said that he “certainly doesn’t see [the decision to open the wallets] as a bad move”, although he is generally opposed to the idea of paying ransoms. Sweeney sees the effort as a proactive step toward protecting client data on the part of the law firms, but only as a “last resort”.
In fact, Sweeney says that there is no real guarantee that paying a ransom will keep data from being leaked. He told of a case in which a firm became entangled in a two-month long saga that took three ransom payments before the firm was able to retrieve the data from the hackers.
Navigating a Changing Landscape of Cyber-Security Threats
According to Sweeney, one thing is clear: law firms must do more to protect their clients’ data. At this particular moment in time, hackers have the upper hand on their victims; the chances of a hacker being caught are extremely slim. Should a hacker be caught, the likelihood that he or she will be prosecuted is even slimmer. While new technologies are being created to combat criminal activity, institutions that deal with sensitive data are still at risk.
Keeping up with the times, LogicForce plans to open a Bitcoin wallet of its own so that it may be of use to help its clients with ransom attacks in the future. While ransom attacks are a rather new crime in the digital space, they could become “a normal course of business” within the next few years.