Ransomware’s Impact On Philadelphia Law Firms

The last few years have brought with them a series of security breaches to corporate America. Global corporations and federal agencies have not been spared in the cyberattacks. They have served as a wake-up call for the government to invest heavily in cybersecurity.

One of the cities that have suffered the worst blow in ransomware attacks is Philadelphia. It has become like a sitting duck for cyberattacks, and the city should not be complacent about security. Ransomware is increasingly becoming the means that hackers use to facilitate other online crimes as well. They use these schemes to distract officials while raiding banks or diverting payroll checks. Before security officials realize what is happening, a ransom has already been paid, and it’s too late to reverse the transactions.

Series of Cyberattacks in Philadelphia

In the summer of 2019, the court system in Philly was paralyzed by a cyberattack. The infiltration of the court systems by the virus caused a shutdown of the servers, website, and internal email, disrupting the delivery of online services. The good news is that there were no ransom demands or data breaches that are publicly known to have happened. However, the damage that followed is untold.

Thousands of people interact with the courts daily, and the system has about 3,000 employees, running on a budget of $110 million annually. It was, therefore, necessary for the City Council to approve a resolution to conduct an audit of the technological infrastructure and information systems. This would help officials establish how susceptible the systems are, and how secure people’s information is.

An Attack on the Transit System

In August 2020, Philadelphia suffered yet another cyberattack, affecting the transit system. Consequently, there was a shutdown of the real-time bus and rail information for two weeks. The incident involved an unnamed form of malware that took over the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s networks. The systems that provide information to riders on when the next train or bus is arriving were also not spared.

Many riders took their complaints to SEPTA’s social media accounts after the loss of the live updates. Most of them were unable to check up the printed schedules or access information via their phones using the TransitView tool provided by the authority.

This interruption also caused SEPTA employees to lose access to their phone directories, email accounts, and multiple file servers. There was little indication that the systems would be restored. While the attack was not formally termed a ransomware attack, it shows the vulnerability of public-sector entities to viruses that can lock up sensitive and confidential data, affecting business in innumerable ways.

Cyberattacks on Schools 

In September 2019, the Souderton Area School District and Wyoming Area School District became victims of cyberattacks. While Wyoming Area paid a ransom of $38,000 to stop the attack, Souderton wouldn’t reveal the extent of the malware infiltration.

District administrators in Souderton areas immediately shut down the computer network. They also disconnected the internet as a measure to prevent further damage. The district then said it would work with the Department of Homeland Security, Secret Services, the FBI, local authorities, and cybersecurity experts to recover from the attack.

How Do These Attacks Affect Your Law Firm?

It’s easy for businesses, large and small, to think that they are safe from cyberattacks or that hackers have no interest in finding them. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cybercriminals work around the clock to devise new techniques and methods to attack business systems. They know that when companies are desperate to have their data back to continue with operations, they do anything, including paying a ransom.

As such, cyberattacks have crippled organizations across the globe. When companies fail to keep reliable backups and secure their systems, they will be forced to choose between paying ransoms or spending a fortune on rebuilding the systems and their reputation.

Your law firm holds sensitive data that you must not lose or let it become compromised. This is why you must be proactive about protecting your systems and ensuring you keep your clients’ data secure. Experts keep advising companies to invest in robust controls. In particular, they must bring cybersecurity professionals onboard.

Protect Your Law Firm from Making Ransomware Headlines

Ransomware can destroy your law firm, especially if you don’t have the financial muscle to get back on your feet as soon as possible. Research shows that approximately 33% of law firms have been victims of ransomware in the last 12 months. You can prevent your firm from becoming part of the statistics by taking the following measures:

Conduct Regular Security Awareness Training 

Security awareness training is the key to preventing all types of cybersecurity threats. Unfortunately, small firms lag behind in conducting regular security awareness training. Only 65% of small firms are committed to the process, compared to 84% of mid-sized law firms. Moreover, it’s shocking to note that 10% of small firms don’t provide such training.

Put Up Measures Against Phishing Schemes 

Phishing schemes are on top of the list of the attack vendors for ransomware attacks. Your law firm should stay updated on the phishing techniques that target employees. These dupe them into clicking malicious links, entering their credentials on dubious sites, or downloading malware, putting your firm at risk of attack.

Conducting regular phishing tests to establish the level of vulnerability among your staff members is crucial. It forms the basis of security awareness training. If your firm uses email as the primary form of communication, protective measures against email threats should be among your top priorities.

Other measures to enhance your cybersecurity include:

  • Updating all your software when updates become available
  • Using strong passwords and enabling multi-factor authentication methods
  • Installing antivirus, anti-phishing, and anti-malware software
  • Backing up your data regularly, and to the cloud if possible

Are You Ready to Improve Your Law Firm’s Security Posture?

Improving the security of your systems in your law firm is not something you should take lightly. It would help to get a security expert to conduct a risk assessment to gain in-depth insights into your firm’s information assets. They will also identify any existing loopholes that put your firm at risk of an attack.

Take the bold step of partnering with a professional IT service provider, and it could save you from paying a ransom in the future. The advantage of having a professional by your side is that your systems will be monitored all around the clock. An experienced expert can identify a threat and stop it in tracks, hence protecting you and your clients. Contact us today at Mainstreet IT Solutions and let us help you protect your law firm from cybersecurity threats.

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