Ransomware: Cybersecurity awareness for lawyers

Rajib Hasan Rajib Hasan, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Business Intelligence Competency Centre (BICC), shares an overview of how legal organisations and businesses can become a target of cybersecurity attacks by hackers.


Cybersecurity is the practice of defending computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, or data from a hacker. The hacker tries to take control by a malicious attack, mostly through the Internet. This malevolent attack is known as a cyberattack. In a cyber-attack, the hacker attempts to gain unauthorized access to a computer, computing system or computer network with the intent to cause damage. The damages from a cyber threat are not only limited to disabling, disrupt, ransomware. Hacker or control computer systems or ransomware. Hackers may block, delete, manipulate, steal the data or may ask money to give back your access after a ransomware attack. Based on the Imperva cyber threat maps, the number of inbound and outbound cyberattacks in New Zealand are 825,356 while the total attack requests were 1,134,831, 928 (see Fig 1).


Figure 01: Cyber Threat attack map by Imperva

Figure 01: Cyber Threat attack map by Imperva


The widespread cybersecurity breach in some renowned New Zealand businesses like NZX, Westpac, Waitakere hospitals and others are eye-opening for many business owners in New Zealand. Recently, hackers have targeted organizations that are dealing with data. Likewise, it is a wake-up call for lawyers2 as their organizations and businesses mostly deal with and store client data. Kaspersky’s cyberthreat lab identified that recently hackers had sent 20 Ransomware attacks in New Zealand (See Fig 02) and more than 120 emails were infected.


Figure 02: Ransomware attack in New Zealand (August 9-13 2021)

Figure 02: Ransomware attack in New Zealand (August 9-13 2021)


The ransomware affected organization did not speak out about the aftermath solution of the ransomware attack. No one has a clue about how the affected organizations have overcome the ransomware threat or attack. Usually, the remedial from a ransomware attack is paying the money for ransomware or engaging cybersecurity professionals before and after a ransomware attack. Cert NZ showed that the net loss for the companies is as high as $16.9m whereas initially, the loss was $5.3m (Please see Fig 03). Both the numbers of losses are giving a distress call to business organizations.


Figure 03: Stats of financial Loss in New Zealand

Figure 03: Stats of financial Loss in New Zealand


Recalling Fig 01, the Imperva cyber threat map, from 10th to 11th August 2021, shows law and government sectors are exposed to 212,124 cyberattacks. The number of attacks on law and government is the highest on the cyber threat map: Imperva. Cyberattacks are not limited to the law and government organizations. Cyber threats are everywhere such as computer & IT (28,845), healthcare (186,970), automobile (95,923) and business (65,031). Nowadays, cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated that even the most recent antivirus is generally not able to battle against cybersecurity. Therefore, any organization dealing with clients’ data is now highly susceptible to ransomware by hackers.

The organizations that are dealing with a heap of documents or PDF files need to apply a heightened measure of cybersecurity. The cybersecurity infrastructure should be applied to the business premises, and the devices connected to the business needs. Ransomware could be considered as one of the worst forms of cyberattack. Recently, Sophos lab in England discovered that hackers may hide ransomware in PDF documents. Prowl is a new generation of ransomware spam. Victims are cyberattacked with Prowl ransomware which is hidden inside PDF documents4. Accordingly, lawyers may be the next possible target1 as they are using a huge number of PDF files every day.

Many organizations may think that their existing IT solution, anti-virus, may be able to deal with the cyber threat. Antivirus is just one side of cybersecurity or endpoint security. Endpoint security protects the entire network and defends different types of security threats while antivirus is mostly dealing with viruses and tries to protect one device only. The pattern of cyber threats and the way of attacking in cyber is changing every day. Thus, there is no full-proof cybersecurity solution available. However, there is always a way to minimize and mitigate cyber threats by learning and deploying cybersecurity in the organizational premises, including devices.


1 https://adls.org.nz/Story?Action=View&Story_id=350

2 https://adls.org.nz/Story?Action=View&Story_id=211

3 https://incidentresponse.co.nz/cyber-security-guide-for-nz-law-firms/#Cyber-Security-in-the-NZ-Legal-Context

4 https://www.cybersecurity-insiders.com/cyber-attack-with-ransomware-hidden-inside-pdf-documents/

Rajib Hasan has a M.Phil. in computer science majoring in deep learning (Ensemble modelling in data science) and another research-based masters on computer science majoring in machine learning application in data science. He has completed his Bachelor’s degree in information technology majoring in artificial intelligence. His expertise is on machine learning, artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and cyber security. His outstanding researches are published in world-class journals. He has developed a number of software based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, which are under his copyrights. He has been working in cyber security since 2007. In 2011, Rajib became the cyber security consultant of R & D SerindIT and University Utara Malaysia where his role involved protecting 60 servers from the live cyber threat. He also successfully neutralized the cyber war against UUM and many other organizations. You can connect with Rajib via LinkedIn