Edinburgh solicitors held to ransom by cyber criminals

By October 22, 2013 Blog No Comments

Struan Douglas, senior partner at Edinburgh solicitors, Purdie & Co., sat down at his desk one morning in June to find his network unavailable and a message on his server from a criminal gang. His firm was being held to ransom.

The gang had compromised Purdie & Co.’s network, monitored backup activity then encrypted data on all backup tapes before encrypting the server. A demand was made for thousands of dollars to provide access to the data which was still on Purdie’s server but was no longer accessible.

The police were contacted immediately and Why Settle was called in to confirm if there was any way to unravel the encryption. Unfortunately the encryption was effective and the police offered little hope of apprehending the criminals.

In situations like this, paying the ransom is seldom a solution. The gang will have already made an assessment of the worth of the firm (and directors or partners). They most often return some data for the first payment but will continue to ask for more money for additional portions of data until they have as much as they believe the victim can afford to pay.

Struan said, “We never thought criminal gangs would be interested in a small firm of solicitors in Edinburgh but this experience was a real eye opener. They managed to find and exploit a vulnerability.

“The disruption this caused to our operations was enormous, the time-cost, incalculable. We recovered and Why Settle now look after our network security, which is now as robust as is practically possible, but we will remain ever-vigilant.”

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