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Cybersecurity

In the technological driven world we live in today, cyber issues have pushed themselves to the forefront no matter what area of law we practice in.  This is especially true in light of the COVID pandemic that forced a new work-from-home world in which lawyers regularly attend court, mediations, depositions, and client meetings via Zoom, BlueJeans or some other remote video platform.

Given the current embrace of technology, law firms have found themselves needing to implement new security measures to ensure their computer databases are not hacked especially when confronted with the fact that many (if not all) of their employees are now working remotely from home (and most likely on a less secure network as compared to that of the firm’s office).  For if proper safety protocol is not followed, the firm’s work product, client data, and other confidential information are left exposed to hackers, who are more readily implementing data breaches.  In doing so, the bad guys make financial gains by demanding their cyber victims pay ransoms in order to prevent data loss and/or distribution of confidential information the cyber attackers stole and can make readily accessible to the public.

Why is cyber the next big thing?

According to the FBI, reports of cybercrime increased fourfold by April 2020 (Covid breakout) at which time the FBI’s Internet Crime Complain Center reported receiving 3,000 to 4,000 daily cybersecurity complaints (as compared to 1,000 daily complaints prior to Covid).  Similarly, there has been an increase in cyberattack ransom demands and the amounts that cyber victims are willing to pay to mitigate damages from the attack.  To this point, the following cyber ransom statistics were noted during the ABA’s recent cyber presentation entitled, Law Firms and the Scourge of Ransomware:  How to Prevent, Detect, Respond and Recover:

  • 2018:  
    • Average ransom paid = $30,000.
    • Highest ransom paid = $1 million.
  • 2019: 
    • Average ransom paid = $300,000.
    • Highest ransom paid = $5.6 million.
    • Highest ransom demand = $18 million.
  • As of November 2020:
    • Highest ransom paid = $15 million.
    • Highest ransom demand = $68 million.

So what does all of this mean for the young attorney? 

The influx of cyber breaches means that more and more businesses are falling victim to cyber-attacks resulting in litigation in which businesses must hire attorneys to defend them against claims that they breached a duty to safeguard data (often times in a class action setting).  Obviously, businesses prefer to prevent the headache, time, and expense of litigation and may instead attack the cyber risks head-on.  In such instances, attorneys can counsel their clients on the necessary means required to prove it indeed took adequate precautionary measures to eliminate the potential for a cyber breach. 

Either way, knowledge of cyber related issues infiltrating the legal world are beneficial to the young attorney looking to pave the path to a successful practice whether it be in relation to cyber issues crossing over into matters concerning intellectual property, civil litigation, and/or criminal litigation.

How do you get involved?

To learn more about this developing field, young attorneys are encouraged to attend monthly Zoom meetings held by the ABA/TIPS Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee on every 3rd Wednesday from 1-2 pm (PST) via Zoom.  For March 2021, the committee’s business meeting will occur on March 17, 2021 for the first 30 minutes starting at 1:00 pm followed by a social trivia game networking hour (1:30-2:30 pm PST). 

Chantel E. Lafrades Chantel E. Lafrades is a litigation attorney at Ropers Majeski PC in San Francisco, CA and the YLD Outreach Chair for the ABA/TIPS Cybersecurity and Data Privacy Committee. She can be reached at chantel.lafrades@ropers.com.