Warning to Law Society Members

The “Ransomware” computer virus has been active within our legal community.

The virus is usually spread by infected email attachments or website links. It will scramble all the data and client files on your computer with virtually unbreakable encryption. You learn you are infected when a pop-up window states that all your files will be deleted unless you pay a ransom within a certain time. The ransom is typically in the range of $100 to $300 and payable only in Bitcoin, a virtual currency that makes payments untraceable. And because you are dealing with criminals, paying the ransom does not guarantee that you will get your files back.

Cyber-attacks can be detrimental to your law firm due to the money and time associated with removal, repair and recovery of files. The following precautions will help reduce the risk of being victimized:

– do not open any suspicious email or email from an unknown sender;
– schedule regular system back-ups for your files and store the back-ups in a computer that is not connected to the internet or to a network;
– maintain effective anti-virus software that include anti-malware protection;
– consider buying a cyber-insurance policy since cyber-attacks are not covered under your mandatory policy of insurance.

If your computer becomes infected, immediately have it examined by a computer specialist in an effort to retrieve your files and to remove any malware. If you become a victim of fraud, please report to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.