Hackers breach cyber defenses of the country’s most prestigious law firms
Hackers breach computer networks of some big U.S. The firms include Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP and Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, which represent Wall Street banks and Fortune 500 companies in everything from lawsuits to multibillion-dollar merger negotiations.
Federal investigators are looking to see if confidential information was stolen for insider trading, as these law firms represented Wall Street banks and big companies, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. Other law firms were also targeted, but the probe has not amounted to any clear information on what details have been stolen.
The Federal Bureau of investigation and the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office are investigating the matter. Threat of Hackers breach attacks are in postings on the Internet. Hackers breached other law firms as well, and the hackers, in postings on the Internet, are threatening to attack more.
It isn’t clear what information the hackers stole, if any, but the focus of the investigation is on whether confidential data were taken for the purpose of insider trading.
Cravath said the incident, which occurred last summer, involved a “limited breach” of its systems and that the firm is “not aware that any of the information that may have been accessed has been used improperly.” The firm said its client confidentiality is sacrosanct and that it is working with law enforcement as well as outside consultants to assess its security.
The cyberattacks show what law-enforcement officials have been warning companies about for years. As hacking tools and hackers for hire proliferate in certain corners of the Internet, it has become easier for criminals to breach computer networks as a way to further a range of crimes, from insider trading to identity theft.
Law firms are attractive targets because they hold trade secrets and other sensitive information about corporate clients, including details about undisclosed mergers and acquisitions that could be stolen for insider trading.
A case last year shows that hackers have gone after sensitive material to fuel illegal trading. In that case, brought by federal prosecutors in New Jersey and Brooklyn, N.Y., hackers in Ukraine allegedly breached newswires companies in the U.S. and stole news releases about corporate earnings before they became public. Stock traders then made lucrative bets based on the releases, prosecutors said. At least three of the defendants have pleaded guilty, and the case is pending.
The federal investigation into the law firms is one of several recent cyber-related incidents that have affected the legal industry.
In February, a posting appeared on an underground Russian website called DarkMoney.cc, in which a person offered to sell his phishing services to other would-be cyber thieves and identified specific law firms as potential targets.
Law firms last year formed an information-sharing group to disseminate information about cyber threats and other vulnerabilities. It is modeled after a similar organization for financial institutions. So far, 75 law firms have joined the group.