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Problems in Paradise as cyber-attack hits hard

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News of the Paradise Papers, the latest cybersecurity breach since last year’s Panama Papers, has rocked the financial world.

Offshore law firm Appleby whose offices were targeted in the cyber-attack has said: “Recent media coverage, including the Panorama programme aired on 5th November, continues to focus on the offshore sector. The journalists do not allege, nor could they, that Appleby has done anything unlawful. There is no wrongdoing. It is a patchwork quilt of unrelated allegations with a clear political agenda and movement against offshore.

“We wish to reiterate that our firm was not the subject of a leak but of a serious criminal act.  This was an illegal computer hack.  Our systems were accessed by an intruder who deployed the tactics of a professional hacker and covered his/her tracks to the extent that a forensic investigation by a leading international Cyber & Threats team concluded that there was no definitive evidence that any data had left our systems.  This was not the work of anybody who works at Appleby. Panorama stated they have nearly seven million of our documents.  They also claimed to have sourced information from “publicly available documents”.  The BBC website states that ‘the Paradise Papers contains 13.4 million documents’. It is plain that the source of documents is not confined to Appleby.”

Cyber security firms have been quick to comment on the situation. Mark Sangster (pictured), VP and Industry Security Strategist at cyber security company eSentire says: “The parallels of Paradise Papers to last year’s Panama Papers breach are obvious, however beyond the shock factor of the leaked data itself, what’s more alarming is the depth and magnitude of this breach. Law and accounting firms should raise the alarm when it comes to their firm’s cybersecurity rigor.

“Panama Papers may have been opportunistic; however it laid a blueprint for these kinds of attacks. It has shone a spotlight on tax operations in the Caribbean, and while the mechanics of the breach itself have yet to be revealed, this was clearly a targeted attack. Appleby took appropriate response steps in notifying their clients, but you can’t insure this.  This class of events demonstrates why law firms must protect their clients’ confidential information. No amount of cyber insurance, data back strategies, nor business continuity planning can ever put this genie back in the bottle.

“Law and accounting firms are particularly susceptible to ethical hacking and really, every firm should assume they’ll be breached, because they will be breached. These firms house a treasure trove of sensitive data that when compromised can result in sometimes irrecoverable damage. This attack will have far-reaching impacts for those affected.”
 

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