The FBI has issued private warnings to law firms about specific cyber threats indicating potential breech and definite targeting by criminal groups. According to a report by Supra Business Advisor: the warning included indication that a cyber crime insider trading ring is targeting “international law firms used to facilitate business ventures.”

The FBI provided this context:

“In a recent cyber criminal forum post, a criminal actor posted an advertisement to hire a technically proficient hacker for the purposes of gaining sustained access to the networks of multiple international law firms.”

The criminal group reportedly declared their intention as:

“… compromising the law firm’s computer networks and monitoring them for material, non-public information….This information, gained prior to a public announcement, is then used by a criminal with international stock market expertise to strategically place bids and generate a monetary profit.”

Clare Bushey of ChicagoBusiness.com has provided additional reporting on this threat. From Bushey’s report:

A Russian cyber criminal has targeted nearly 50 elite law firms, including four in Chicago, to collect confidential client information for financial gain.

The mastermind, a broker named “Oleras” living in Ukraine, has been attempting since January to hire hackers to break into the firms’ computer systems so he can trade on insider information, according to a Feb. 3 alert from Flashpoint, a New York threat intelligence firm.

Kirkland & Ellis, Sidley Austin, McDermott Will & Emery and Jenner & Block all were listed on a spreadsheet of potential marks. It named 46 of the country’s largest law firms, plus two members of the UK’s Magic Circle.

Our view: It is absolutely true that law offices are targets. Law firms hold data desired by criminals and they hold it on clients that trust them to protect it. If vulnerabilities are found in law office defenses it can turn them into back doors into their clients.