Michigan Law Firms Suffer Collateral Damage in Ransomware Attack

Even if you're not the direct target of a cyber attack, you can be harmed. Here are 7 safety tips.

When you consider the risks associated with a cyber-attack, you naturally think of direct damage to your systems and theft of your data.

But some attacks target sources outside your law office, and these can cause collateral damage to your practice – and to your clients.

That happened in April in Genesee County, Michigan, when the county’s computer network was attacked by a ransomware virus, crashing the court systems and bringing email and fax functions to a halt.

The attack impacted clients and law firms that had pending business with the county courts. At the very least, people were inconvenienced and dockets were delayed. At worst, the attack threw cases into chaos.

Read about the Genesee County attack here and here.

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Michigan State Bar Sounds Alarm

The attack caught the attention of the State Bar of Michigan, which published this notice on its website:

“The Genesee County computer network has been attacked by ransomware. Among numerous systems impacted, fax capabilities and the county-wide email system have been affected and are not functional at this time.

If you have matters pending with the Genesee County 67the District or 7th Circuit Courts, Friend of the Court. Prosecutor’s Office Criminal or Civil (Corporation Counsel) divisions, or have clients in the Genesee County Jail, you will be unable to rely on fax or email communications for the near future. The system went down late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, and fax and email communications from that point on likely did not reach their destination.”

7 Steps to Avoid Ransomware

Here are some safety tips to avoid a ransomware attack, courtesy of Tech Republic:

1.       Perform strategic assessments of cyber threats and vulnerabilities
2.       Rapidly spot and counter threats
3.       Develop business continuity plans
4.       Implement crisis and incident response planning
5.       Don’t click on suspicious email
6.       Implement cyber hygiene policies and employee education to prevent phishing attacks
7.       Manage and patch vulnerabilities as soon as possible

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