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Allen & Overy Data Breach Explained

08 February, 2024

In the legal sector, where confidentiality is essential, the cost of a data breach can be astronomical.

Crucially, while cybersecurity is often seen as a matter for IT teams, many of these breaches are not due to external threats, but human error within the firms.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office in the period from Q3 2022 to Q2 2023, insiders were responsible for 60% of data breaches in the UK's legal sector.

It’s a fact that many law firms are finding out in real-time, including Allen & Overy.

Join us as we unpack the details of a recent breach and discuss how you can protect your organisation against this kind of threat.

Allen & Overy breach explained

Allen & Overy, a prestigious Magic Circle law firm based in London, fell victim to a ransomware attack in November 2023 that targeted several storage servers, causing considerable disruption.

This attack coincided with a major financial milestone – their merger with Shearman & Sterling.

The LockBit ransomware group, known for its disruptive cyber activities, claimed responsibility for the attack.

They threatened to release sensitive data unless a ransom was paid by 28th November 2023.

Fortunately, the firm's core systems remained intact, including document management and email services.

A growing concern in the legal sector

This cyber attack is yet another warning to the legal sector following the collapse of another law firm, The Ince Group, after a severe ransomware breach.

Indeed, despite having strict cybersecurity measures in place, The LockBit group were able to exploit vulnerabilities within the organisation - notably, human error.

That’s why, at Bob’s Business, we emphasise a multi-pronged approach when it comes to protecting your organisation, focusing primarily on raising awareness among your team of what threats look like and how to mitigate them.

Insights from the National Cyber Security Centre show that law firms emerge as prime targets for cybercriminals due to the amount of confidential data they hold, presenting a lucrative opportunity for malicious actors to pursue financial gains through data breaches.

Phishing attacks could be your weak spot

Recent findings reveal that a staggering 79% of cyber-attacks are executed via phishing emails, posing a significant concern for law practices.

These deceptive emails often disguise themselves as legitimate requests for information or access, highlighting the importance of heightened vigilance among legal professionals.

The role of employees within law firms is pivotal in identifying, reporting, and responding to cyber threats.

What can you do to prevent these attacks?

Prioritising cybersecurity awareness and training programs is essential to foster a culture of cyber hygiene and ensure robust protection against evolving threats.

Tailoring these initiatives to resonate with employees' emotional, behavioural, and cognitive aspects can drive meaningful education and instigate positive behavioural changes to bolster defences against cyber attacks.

During pivotal financial events such as mergers and acquisitions, the risk of cyber attacks escalates as cybercriminals exploit the transitional chaos to orchestrate ransomware attacks and extort firms for financial gain.

In response, law firms must remain vigilant and implement proactive measures to protect their financial data.

Recent incidents such as Allen and Overy's data breach and the collapse of the Ince Group show the importance for law firms to remain vigilant and proactive in their cyber defence strategies.

Adopting a comprehensive, multi-layered defence approach is paramount for safeguarding sensitive information in the digital age.

How Bob’s Business can help your organisation

At Bob's Business, we understand the important role of human error in data breaches.

We offer specialised training and awareness programmes, putting employees at the centre of everything we do.

We are the industry-leading, “Most Trusted Cybersecurity Awareness Provider of 2023” that is helping businesses like yours to reduce the chances of being hit with data breaches through engaging, relatable training courses and simulations.

Ready to start protecting your organisation? View our range of courses today.

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