Billing or Nothingness: Ransomware as an Existential Threat

Billing or Nothingness: Ransomware as an Existential Threat

Three weeks ago, DLA Piper was brought to its knees by the Petya ransomware virus. The firm, one of the largest law firms in the world with over 4,000 lawyers across 40 countries, was forced to shut down its internal computer systems and phone network to prevent Petya’s spread. It was an almost total shutdown and costs could easily be in the millions—and the aftermath is still playing out.

Such attacks pose an existential threat for law firms and legal professionals, where the ability to prevent and recover from ransomware can be the difference between billing and nothingness.

Ransomware Brings Regular Operations to a Halt

DLA Piper was hit by the Petya ransomware attack on June 27th, with the attack quickly encrypting the firm’s valuable files, then holding them for hostage. That morning, attorneys in DLA Piper’s Madrid office saw Petya’s message flash across their screen: “Ooops, your important files are encrypted.”

“Nobody can recover your files,” the message continued, “without our decryption device.”

Ooops indeed.

Soon, workstations at DLA Piper offices across the globe were going dark in an attempt to stop the malware’s spread. It wasn’t until July 3rd, six days after the initial attack, that DLA Piper’s email was brought back online. On July 10th, almost two weeks after the attack, the firm announced “we have brought our email and other tools central to client services safely back online, and are now bringing other major systems online in a secure manner as well.”

The cost in lost billable hours alone could be staggering. And there’s no guarantee that a cyberinsurance policy will cover those losses.

Jean Paul Sartre, existentialist philosopher, author of “Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology,” and, who knows, maybe a cyberterrorist.

DLA Piper isn’t the only major organization, and certainly not the only law firm, to fall victim to such an attack. Moses Afonso Ryan, a 10-attorney firm in Rhode Island, fell victim to a ransomware attack. For three months the firm says it was "unproductive and unable to work at reasonable efficiency."

Which is what makes these attacks so terrifying: they could happen to almost any firm, halting the firm’s ability to do business for days, weeks, or months.

It’s an existential threat all attorneys should be paying attention to. As Sartre said, “L’enfer, c’est le ransomware.”

Thankfully, when it comes to protecting against potential attacks, you’re not alone in an irrational, meaningless universe. There are steps lawyers, and their corporate clients, can take to make sure that when the next Petya comes, they’re protected. Logikcull is here to help out.

Join us for a webinar on “Protecting Against Petya: Ransomware and the Future of Law Firm Cybersecurity” on Thursday, July 27. Featuring Bryan Focht, an attorney at Stiles, Byrum & Horne, LLP and author of “The Cyber Advocate” blog, and Olga Mack, General Counsel at ClearSlide and a lecturer at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), the webinar will address:

  • The recent history of cyberattacks against law firms large and small
  • The potential consequences of a successful hack
  • Cybersecurity protections GCs demand from their outside counsel
  • Ways attorneys can protect themselves against ransomware and other cyberattacks

Save your spot today—before the next big ransomware attack hits.

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