Phishing

Personal email accounts introduce possible threats to firm computers. A careless employee could open a trojan horse attachment and unleash a virus on the system. Even if the attack only infects the local drive, confidential information may be at risk.

This puts firms in a bind. Either invest time and energy teaching basic Internet skills to their employees — lessons like, “don’t open attachments from unknown email addresses” — that most of us learned when we still had Prodigy emails, or condescendingly cut off access to a modern necessity because the employees are too hopeless to understand the rules.

Yesterday, a major law firm chose the latter route…

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Having spam emails sent out under your name can happen to anyone. As we’ve previously reported, it has happened to a leading law firm. And to a prominent professor, at a top law school. This led us to wonder: Is “phishing” running rampant throughout the legal community?

Quite possibly. Even being married to justice of the United States Supreme Court will not protect you from the spammers.

It seems that a Supreme spouse may have fallen victim to unsavory characters from the online world….

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This news is more than a little scary.

Google announced yesterday that hackers in China had gotten access to hundreds of Gmail accounts. And it wasn’t just anyone’s email. The attack targeted senior government officials in the United States, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries, military personnel, and journalists.

I have a feeling we will hear a lot more about this over the next few days. For the moment, let’s take a look at the details we know so far….

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Raise your hand if you are a JPMorgan Chase customer. Now raise your hand if you’ve shopped at Best Buy. How about Citibank, Target or Walgreens?

Has everybody in the world raised their hands yet? Congratulations — your email address may have been stolen.

There was a data breach at Epsilon, a Texas-based marketing firm, last weekend, exposing the names and email addresses of potentially millions of their clients’ customers. I first found out about it when Chase emailed me. You might have gotten a similar alert from one of the affected companies.

Read part of the bank’s announcement and more about the breach, after the jump.

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Is “phishing” running rampant throughout the legal community? A few weeks ago, Professor Charles Nesson of Harvard Law School fell victim to a phishing scam. As the HLS Help Desk helpfully explained at the time, “Phishing emails are fraudulent email messages claiming to be from a legitimate source that ask you to send confidential information such as username, password, date of birth, etc.”

The latest high-profile victim of a phishing attack is a leading law firm, WilmerHale. A mass email is going around, purportedly from “Brian Willmer” of “Willmer Hale,” regarding an alleged subpoena. The email is a fraud; as far as we know, there is no “Brian Willmer” of “Willmer Hale.” It contains a link that you definitely do not want to click on.

Let’s look at the fake email — and the very real response, from the managing partners of WilmerHale….

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First of all, Happy Chanukah. May your candles burn bright.

It is certainly possible that some lowly internet hacker was trying to take advantage of some holiday compassion when he or she hacked the email of Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson. Nesson is a well-known figure in “internet and the law” circles — as well as to readers of A Civil Action, who know him as “Billion Dollar Charlie” — but today he’s just another victim of a phishing attack. An email went out to the HLS community this morning claiming that Nesson was stuck in the U.K. and in desperate need of money.

We can’t be sure if Nesson will be able to find and bring charges against the hacker, but let’s hope that if he does he isn’t forced to rely on HLS students for legal advice…

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