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DLA Piper’s cyber attack snarls firm’s phone, email

A computer screen cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, at an office in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday June 27, 2017, A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard. Image used with permission of the account holder facebook.com/olejmaa checked and consistent with independent AP reporting. (Oleg Reshetnyak via AP)

A computer screen cyberattack warning notice reportedly holding computer files to ransom, as part of a massive international cyberattack, at an office in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday June 27, 2017. (Oleg Reshetnyak via AP)

DLA Piper is getting a firsthand look this week at the vulnerabilities of law firms to cyber attacks. The firm was one of several businesses globally that was hit by an attack known as “Petya” and has forced the firm to shut down its telephone and email communications with clients.

“We immediately began our investigation and remediation efforts, working closely with leading external forensic experts and relevant authorities, including the FBI and UK National Crime Agency,” a firm spokesman said in a statement. “We are working to bring our systems safely back online.”

The Petya virus locks people out of their computer network and demands a $300 ransom in cryptocurrency. However, as of Wednesday, it appeared that the people behind the attack were more interested in causing a disruption than getting ransom money, Bloomberg reported.

DLA Piper’s locations across 40 countries, including its Baltimore office, closed its systems as a “precautionary measure,” preventing clients from contacting firm employees by email or land lines.

The firm first detected suspicious activity on Tuesday.

“Our IT team acted quickly to prevent the spread of the suspected malware and to protect our systems,” the firm said.

DLA Piper told Bloomberg on Wednesday that it did not have any evidence suggesting any client information was affected.

Law firms’ vulnerability to cyber attacks has been on the American Bar Association’s radar. Recently, the ABA Cybersecurity Legal Task Force published a checklist for businesses to vet the level of security for outside vendors. Law firms are among the most vulnerable third-party vendors that expose company data to hackers.

Separately, the FBI last year issued an alert warning law firms about potential attacks and investigated breaches that hit several prestigious law firms.

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