Back in December it was reported that London firm Anthony Gold Solicitors suffered a cyber-attack which caused emails to be sent out, apparently from the law firm’s email address.
The prestigious London law firm was hacked by a malicious source. It was reported that 16,000 emails were sent to clients of the firm. The subject line “Action Required – Matter for Attention”, asked recipients to open an “urgent” attachment.
The firm has warned any recipients of these messages to delete the email immediately.
The method of attack was to hack firms email account, then send emails to addresses that were on the firm’s email server.
There have been a spate of incidents involving cyber-criminals impersonating law firms and regulators. Most of these emails have been an attempt to propagate malware.
Last week, another attack was reported by the Law Society who warned solicitors that scam email messages had been sent to solicitors suggesting that their profile on the site “Find a Solicitor” had been compromised. The Law Society said that any emails with these messages should be deleted.
These kind of attacks should be taken seriously. Quite often, emails like this are sent from a “Spoof” email address. This is an email address that looks like a legitimate address, but with minor differences.
Usually, recipients know to not respond or open these emails and delete the message. However, in this instance, the hacker got access to the server, which meant that they could send a legitimate email from the firm, giving the message credibility.
This kind of attack was aimed at trying to persuade clients to reveal their login details. From there it would be easy to defraud them.
In the case of Anthony Gold, it appears that no personal data was compromised by the sending of the email, though, if people have opened the attachment and logged in, they should change their password.
No matter who the individual victim, or what the size of the organisation, there is a real cyber-threat looming over businesses. Hackers are on a mission to steal information, distribute malware and hold businesses to ransom.
Without a plan for cyber security, your business is at risk, and there is no other way of putting it.
The best plan of action is to be prepared and responsible, and to understand the risks. Here are five tips that can help reduce the risk of these kinds of attacks.
To protect your company, you need to understand where you are vulnerable to a hacker. There are both external and internal risks, so it is important to understand how a hacker might be able to gain entry to your system. Identify the weak points, and know what your business might face – phishing, malware and ransomware, to a full system hack.
Every company produces data. And it’s easy for someone with malicious intent to get access this, whether from outside your company or within. Hackers are on the hunt for standard company-held information. With this, they can cause all kinds of damage. Anything that is sensitive should be encrypted. Turn on the full-disk encryption tools which come standard with most operating systems, these will encrypt every file on your drive without slowing it down. However, the encryption will only activate when a login is not used. For hackers, all they need is for an employee to briefly leave their work station, without logging out, for them to be able to attack a system with virus and malware. You can set your IT equipment and computers to automatically logout after a few minutes.
The recent BadRabbit ransomware attack in Europe and the WannaCry attack on the NHS could have been prevented by updating software and keeping antivirus running. Antivirus programs like Kaspersky, scan files to see if they contain ransomware before downloading them. They can block secret installations from malicious adverts when you’re browsing the web, and look for malware that may already be on a computer or device. Software companies will release software updates to fix vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. It’s vital, then, to download the newest version of your software as soon as it is available.
Not at all cyber-attacks come through your computer. Many attacks occur after equipment has been stolen. If you don’t physically lock down office computers, you are at risk of someone manually walking in and walking off again with information stored on your office computers. Kensington lock ports are a small securing feature present on most laptops and desktops, they feature a small loop that keeps a device tethered down to a desk. Make sure your staff always keep server room doors closed and locked. Keep USBs, Laptops and all mobile devices safe. Additionally, cloud computing allows you to track mobile laptops, devices and even desktops if they are taken.
The job of cyber security is everyone’s in your company. Employees should be made aware of the different ways they can put the company at risk. Every member of your organisation should have a responsibility to keep their eyes peeled for potential threats and be aware of how to keep information safe. The first step is to have a formal company internet policy, so that employees know what internet practices are allowed within the office and on devices.
If you need to understand what types of emails are acceptable to open on your devices and what type of attachments are you can retrieve, talk to an IT specialist who can help you frame a set of rules. You can also keep cyber-security “top-of-mind” by distributing security email briefs about threats, and having the occasional meeting featuring information from an IT expert.
Prevention is the best method of defeating hackers. Making sure your IT system is up to date and fully secure, is the only way to keep your company’s sensitive information out of the hands of the malicious. The results of an attack can be catastrophic, by following some basic rules and securing your systems now, you can save a lot of possible problems in the future.
If you have any worries about cyber-security threats, talk to the experts at Wood ITC for impartial advice.