Legal Technology

Computer virus locks up law firm files

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The good news: No law firm or client data was taken.

The bad news: Attorney Paul Goodson and his staff can’t access his Charlotte, N.C., law firm’s files after they were locked up by a computer virus, WSOC reports.

Like other businesses in the city, the firm was targeted via email. Once an attachment was opened, the Crypto Locker virus took over. Thousands of documents stored on his computer were made inaccessible, he tells the station, explaining: “It was actually an email that looked like it was coming from our phone system because our system sends voice mail messages as an attachment.”

When his information technology department couldn’t resolve the problem, Goodson tried to pay the $300 fee hackers had demanded to get his files unscrambled. But by then, the ransom offer had expired.

Detectives with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department don’t recommend making such payments but say they know of at least 30 cases in which the ransom was paid and the files were released. Meanwhile, the hackers reportedly have made some $30 million through the scheme.

Police say businesses that haven’t yet been targeted can protect themselves by doing regular file back-ups. They also recommend immediately turning off any infected computer and disconnecting it from the office network.

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