Bar Council and northern law firm Ward Hadaway hit by cyber attacks

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By Thomas Connelly on


Criminals target profession — again

Cyber criminals continue to target the legal profession with the Bar Council and northern law firm Ward Hadaway becoming the latest victims of malicious attacks.

The IT systems of the Bar Council and Bar Standards Board were taken offline in order to stop the attack and prevent any data loss, a statement issued yesterday read.

The General Council of the Bar (GCB), which encompasses the representative body and the regulator, said:

“Our priority remains the protection of our IT systems and data from further attack. We do not believe any data has been lost. We are doing all that we can to fix the problem as soon as possible. Our emails and MyBar have been temporarily unavailable, and Authorisation to Practise and Court ID cards have both been extended.”

The GCB said it was working with its cyber security partners to “cleanse and restore all systems”, and went to confirm the incident had been reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office, National Cyber Security Centre and the police.

Separately, Ward Hadaway yesterday secured an injunction against “person or persons unknown” after confidential documents were obtained in a cyber attack.

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The High Court heard how the unidentified hackers threatened to publish the files online if the firm failed to stump up $3 million in Bitcoin, after which it would double to $6 million (£4.75 million) if it didn’t pay up within a week.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Last month we successfully disrupted an attempted IT security incident involving temporary unauthorised access to part of our network. We immediately contained the incident, investigated alongside external forensic specialists and identified a limited impact on some of our data.

They added: “We are liaising closely with clients who may have been affected and the relevant authorities, including the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Information Commissioner’s Office and law enforcement, about this criminal activity. Our file management system was not affected so this incident has not disrupted our day-to-day operations.”

The attack follows similar cyber incidents involving criminal specialist Tuckers, London-based barristers’ chambers 4 New Square and listed law firm Gateley.

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