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What do Lady Gaga, LeBron James and the Texas Courts Have in Common?

May 27, 2020

Give up?  Each recently made headlines in connection with ransomware — a form of malware that encrypts a victim’s electronic files.  The attacker then demands a ransom – typically payable in bitcoin – from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment.*

In fact, in the span of one week, the Texas Office of Court Administration announced that the online Court network had fallen victim to ransomware, which caused the Court website and case management system to be disabled temporarily** and a prominent New York law firm, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, was also the victim of a ransomware attack.  The cybercriminals who attacked Grubman Shire claim they stole highly confidential information of the firm’s high profile clients; they also threatened to release that information unless paid $42 million in ransom.***

These cyberattacks come at an inopportune time, as courts and law firms have become increasingly reliant on virtual and electronic means of conducting business during the current pandemic.  Although no evidence suggests these attacks were the result of the recent increase in a remote work environment, the attacks serve as a good reminder that we all must remain vigilant and implement as many defensive steps as possible to prevent ransomware infection.

Below are some helpful ways to protect yourself and your employer from cyberattacks:

  • Keep your operating system patched and up to date to ensure you have fewer vulnerabilities to exploit.
  • Exercise caution when opening emails, even if you believe it is from a known source.  And, if you receive an email that seems unusual or is from an unfamiliar sender, consider deleting it, or reporting it to your information technology department.  Under no circumstances should you click any links or open any attachments in the email.
  • Install antivirus software, which detects malicious programs like ransomware, and whitelisting software, which prevents unauthorized applications from executing.
  • And, back up your files frequently!  While this will not prevent a malware attack, it can minimize the damage that results from an attack.

In addition to the tips above, prior posts provide more detailed information:

Have questions?  Please contact me at kcole@farrellfritz.com.

*There are a number of ways in which ransomware can access a computer.  One of the more common delivery systems is phishing spam – an email or attachment that masquerades as a file the email recipient should trust.

**See https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/texas-high-courts-hit-by-ransomware-attack-refuse-to-pay/2020/05/12/f4d35fa4-948f-11ea-87a3-22d324235636_story.html.

***The firm, which specializes in entertainment and media law, represents many high profile celebrities, including Lady Gaga, Madonna, and LeBron James.