A HWL Ebsworth spokesman said the firm became aware on Friday of an unauthorised third-party claiming it had taken a significant amount of data from the firm.
“The privacy and security of our client and employee information is of the utmost importance to us,” he said.
“As soon as we learnt of this potential incident, we acted quickly to respond to the threat and have been working with third-party experts to determine the validity of the claims, and to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our systems.”
HWL Ebsworth has notified, and is working with, the Australian Cyber Security Centre.
“At this time, we are still determining the credibility of the claims made and the potential impact to any data,” the spokesman said.
“There is no evidence that any third party is currently accessing our systems and no signs of encryption have been detected.
“We will continue to provide updates to our stakeholders, as appropriate, as new information becomes available. While investigations are ongoing, our operations are not impacted, and our focus remains on providing exceptional service for our clients to the high standards of our firm.”
If ALPHV proves to have the documents it says it obtained, it would have access to some of HWL Ebsworth’s most sensitive and valuable data. It could have repercussions for other law firms that have faced HWL Ebsworth; one of the sample documents released by ALPHV, for example, appears to have been drafted by Ashurst.
Katherine Mansted, director of cyber intelligence and public policy at CyberCX, said ALPHV have a strategy of “big game hunting” with 40 per cent of the attacks it has executed in Australia being on professional services firms.