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Damage caused by hacking in the legal profession

by Mic Johnson

The legal profession can also be hacked. In the Netherlands, the Bar Association is well aware of this. On its website, the Netherlands Bar not only warns against hacking, it also gives advice on what to do if a law firm is hacked.

Warnings Netherlands Bar Association for Hacking

The following advice on hacking from the Bar Association in the Netherlands can be found on its website:

If, despite all your precautions, you are unfortunately confronted with an information security incident (hacking), you must limit the damage as a result of the hacking as much as possible. You can take the following actions:

  1. Be the first – with or without the help of technical support – to regain control of your systems, the firm’s information and the operations of your law firm
  2. Investigate exactly what happened (were you hacked and what exactly was hacked). Then take the appropriate measures. If necessary, temporarily shut down your systems to ensure that they are prevented from being further influenced by hackers and to gain more certainty about what exactly happened.
  3. Draw up a crisis and communication plan to inform all those involved about the hacking.
  4. If necessary, report the incident.

Why is action in hacking in the legal profession important?

The legal profession works with highly confidential information. After all, these are legal problems of which the clients do not want this information to be exposed. Lawyers also have a legal obligation of confidentiality. The duty is violated when confidential information is hacked by third parties and may be distributed or made public!

For personal injury lawyers, the importance of confidentiality is even more important because they work with medical information. Suppose you are hit by a bicycle as a cyclist and your personal injury file is hacked at your personal injury lawyer in Utrecht (in Dutch: letselschade advocaat Utrecht). All information from the file has then become public. Not only the information about your injury itself, such as your income loss and the costs you incur as a result of the traffic accident, but also all your medical information! This while medical information is personal and is also protected by law from disclosure. Dutch law also states that no one may view your medical information without your express permission.

Which measures do lawyers take against hacking

Lawyers are well aware of the dangers of hacking. This is also the case with the Dutch Bar Association, as are the courts and tribunals in the Netherlands. Communication about legal proceedings in the Netherlands is therefore conducted in a secure environment. Nevertheless, a few years ago things went terribly wrong with the security of the way in which judicial proceedings are communicated. The system at the time was hacked by hackers. Since then, the system of communication with the judiciary has changed.

Lawyers themselves work with secure systems to ensure that the chance of being hacked is minimal.

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