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Have you been hacked?

by on July 20, 2010

Today’s post was originally intended to highlight some upcoming events sponsored by the Hong Kong University Faculty of Law.  However, after arriving at the events page , I was presented with this:

“Hacked by Big-SMoke Kosova”

Everywhere there should have been an event listing, that annoying little message was there instead. This should send the HKU faculty scrambling to have a conference with their IT people and it reminds me just how much lawyers and law firms need to be hyper-aware of potential security problems with their systems and computers, which can be attractive targets for hackers.

The term ‘hacking’ normally describes a situation where someone breaks into a computer system. Despite the fact that security software development and distribution is now a major industry, the number of hacking incidents continues to rise. However, a hacker does not have to be some faceless computer geek in a room in some Eastern European country.  A hacker is often a person who previously had legitimate access to the computer system that is the subject of the attack – for example, an ex-employee whose email account and access codes were not cancelled after he or she left the company.

While some attacks appear to be simply a nuisance (eg, where the hacker defaces a website the way they did with the HKU site), these can still have a serious detrimental effect on the reputation of a company if it is perceived to have poor security, especially in the case of finance companies and law firms. These attacks may also involve a greater outlay of time and money in order to fix the problem as opposed to the cost of taking extra preventative measures.

This is particularly important in the legal field, as lawyers and firms are in possession of very important and confidential information and documents.  So, far from just being a nuisance, a hack attack can potentially put the system owner in breach of confidentiality agreements and their fiduciary duty to clients.

There are countless ways to protect your computers systems (number one being using common sense!) and a good place to start is McAfee’s security blog which has plenty of advice for both individuals and international companies.

Now, go turn on your firewall and stop opening emails from people you don’t know without scanning them first!

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From → Cybercrime, Hong Kong

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