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Cyber Security

According to, Cybersecurity is the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack, damage or unauthorized access. In a computing context, the term security implies cybersecurity. 

Where law firms are concerned, the most common types of threats come from viruses launched unknowingly by someone within the firm. A computer user within the firm either clicks on a link in an email or goes to a website that they shouldn't have. An employee might also bring a device of his/her own which is infected and connect to the firm's network, infecting it that way (the "BYOD" - bring your own device problem).

Law firms worldwide have reported being attacked by a type of virus or malicious software (we'll just call these things "malware") that acts by locking or encrypting users' data. Users see a message on their computer screen informing them that their data will be held until a ransom (or "fine") is paid. The price may escalate for each day the ransom remains unpaid, and if the user refuses, their data will be deleted. Unfortuantely, this scam has already hit many South Carolina law firms.  

Where this scam is concerned, prevention is the best cure. Even if an email comes from someone you know, don't click on a link or attachment unless you verify it or were expecting it. Try hovering your mouse over the link before clicking on it to see if it goes to what it says. Or just call or email the person and ask if they sent something. Also use caution when browsing the web, and make sure your internet security software is always current, as are your browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox) and your operating system (load those service packs and updates!). Always have more than one computer backup. Keep in mind, any backups that are part of your network could be compromised too. They would need to be physically removed from the network, like a backup drive that is disconnected.

Here are a few links to websites to learn more about cybersecurity and protecting your firm from attacks and vulnerability.

Cybersecurity Resources from the ABA's Cybersecurity Legal Task Force

How to Recognize Phishing Email Messages, Links, or Phone Calls 
A good resource for training staff members to recognize and avoid phishing scams.

Internet Check Scams that Target Attorneys and Law Firms by Don Coker
Check scams are becoming more and more sophisticated and the scammers often target attorneys. Learn how to protect yourself and your firm. 

What You Don't Know Can Hurt You: Computer Security for Lawyers by Mark Lanterman

Report Cyber Attacks:

Hackers and/or Computer Viruses - If you find yourself on the receiving end a virus, report the scam immediately to the FBI Cyber Crime Division and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). Call a reputable computer professional for assistance also.

Spyware - Run a spyware scan and then report the incident to through the FTC's Complaint Assistant website.

Spam - Use a spam filter and forward any spam that slips past your filter to the FTC at or file a complaint on the FTC's website