National Cyber Security Centre
An updated report from the NCSC highlights the key threats that the UK legal sector face and how to improve its cyber security. Carl Court/Getty Images

A new report released by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has shed light on the range of online threats faced by the legal sector in the UK. The report, titled 'Cyber Threat to the Legal Sector', provides updated guidance to help legal firms protect themselves against evolving cyber-attacks.

Furthermore, it emphasises the importance of implementing robust cybersecurity measures to safeguard sensitive data and addresses the potential risks posed by criminals seeking financial gain and nation-states attempting to steal valuable information.

The report highlights how the adoption of hybrid working, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has amplified the risks faced by legal firms in the online realm. The sensitive information and significant sums of money handled by these firms make them attractive targets for cyber attackers. The report aims to enhance the resilience of law practises of all sizes and areas of specialisation by equipping them with the knowledge and tools to combat common methods of attack.

The report includes case studies that illustrate the severe consequences of cyber incidents in the legal sector. For instance, Simplify Group, a conveyancing firm, experienced a ransomware attack that left them unable to process house moves for weeks, resulting in an estimated cost of £6.8 million. Another firm, Tuckers Solicitors LLP, fell victim to a ransomware attack that led to the theft and subsequent leaking of data relating to 60 court cases on the dark web.

The NCSC report has been developed in collaboration with industry experts and stakeholders, including the Law Society, the Bar Council, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Action Fraud, the National Crime Agency, and the NCSC's Industry 100 partners. This collaborative effort ensures that the report provides comprehensive advice, information, and assistance to enhance the legal sector's understanding of the challenges it faces.

Lindy Cameron, CEO of the NCSC, urges all legal practices to follow the guidance provided in the report and make full use of the recommended tools and resources to enhance their cyber resilience.

Acknowledging the vital role played by the legal sector in upholding society, Cameron emphasises the need for legal firms to protect the sensitive data they handle from online attackers. Given the constantly evolving cyber landscape, the NCSC aims to provide an up-to-date overview of the latest threats and ensure that the legal sector can proactively address them.

The report has garnered positive responses from industry leaders who recognise its significance in enhancing cybersecurity resilience within the legal sector. Malcom Cree, CEO of the Bar Council, commends the report for its extensive advice, information, and assistance, emphasising its role in equipping the legal sector with a better understanding of the challenges it faces.

Lubna Shuja, President of the Law Society, stresses the importance of solicitors and law firms being aware of the cyber threats they encounter and taking necessary steps to safeguard their systems. She views the report as an essential resource for members of the legal sector, offering practical guidance and tools to protect sensitive data against cyber attacks.

The NCSC highlights that it provides a range of guidance and tools to support organisations in improving their cybersecurity resilience. These include programmes such as the NCSC's Active Cyber Defence (ACD) and the Cyber Essentials programme, which offers a baseline of cybersecurity protections. Furthermore, smaller legal aid organisations can apply for free support through the Funded Cyber Essentials Programme to secure Cyber Essentials certification.

The latest report from the NCSC emphasises the critical need for the UK legal sector to address the evolving cyber threats it faces. By implementing the guidance and recommendations outlined in the report, legal firms can enhance their cybersecurity resilience and protect valuable data from cyber attacks.

The collaborative efforts between the NCSC, industry experts, and stakeholders demonstrate a collective commitment to safeguarding the legal sector and ensuring its continued ability to serve society effectively.