Business of Law

Zombie Servers Put Law Firm in Midst of Internet 'Litigation' Blitz


On Friday afternoon, Todd Higgins was anticipating a pleasant weekend in Florida with his family. By Friday night, as a flood of e-mails began deluging his seven-lawyer New York business litigation and intellectual property boutique, the Crosby & Higgins managing partner realized he was going to have to shift into high gear.

Responding to e-mails, reconfiguring the firm’s website and rushing home to Connecticut on Saturday to deal with what he soon realized was a malicious phishing scheme in which e-mails falsely claiming to come from his firm threatened the recipients with litigation, Higgins did his best to alert fellow victims to the situation, reports the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

On Monday morning, at the height of the onslaught, the firm received some 300 phone calls concerning the cyberattack in the course of one hour, he tells the newspaper, many of them from general counsel and company presidents. By Tuesday, the firm had an explanatory letter posted on its revamped site.

Although he has sought the help of authorities, including the FBI, the perpetrators of such schemes are difficult to identify: “All our IT sources have been able to uncover is that it’s coming from many servers, from so-called zombie servers just firing emails out,” Higgins said.

Meanwhile, his house in Connecticut was destroyed just before he arrived home, when a storm toppled a tree through the roof. Hence, Higgins has been dealing with the law firm phishing situation from a hotel room in New York City.

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