Law Firm DLA Piper Hit by Ransomware Attack

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A screenshot of a “Petya” cyber attack in 2017. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Law firm DLA Piper was hit by a major cyber attack this week, shutting off employees’ access to phones and computers. DLA Piper is a global law firm whose family tree is rooted heavily in Piper & Marbury, a leading Baltimore firm for many decades.

Legal Week reported yesterday that DLA Piper offices in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States had been affected. Some said their phones weren’t working, or that their systems had been locked down as a precaution. The firm ordered employees to halt all communication on company systems.

The firm said in a statement that it fell victim to a piece of ransomware linked to “Petya,” a virus that attacked firms and organizations around the globe last year and re-emerged this week.

“Our IT team acted quickly to prevent the spread of the suspected malware and to protect our systems,” the company said in a statement Tuesday, adding that it was working closely with the FBI, UK National Crime Agency, and other authorities. “We are working to bring our systems safely back online.”

The New York Times reports the ransomware – which seizes a user’s computer until he or she pays ransom to restore access – began in Ukraine, spread to the old Chernobyl nuclear plant and other nearby areas, and eventually jumped as far as Australia, Western Europe, and the United States. DLA Piper was among a number of international firms struck by the attack.

The company has two offices in Baltimore, one in Mount Washington and another downtown, that employ nearly 100 lawyers. Now the third-largest law firm in the United States, DLA Piper has roots in Charm City dating back to the mid-19th century. In 1999, Baltimore-based Piper & Marbury, the largest law firm in Maryland at the time, merged with Chicago’s Rudnick & Wolfe LLP to form Piper Rudnick. In 2005, Piper Rudnick merged with San Diego’s Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich LLP, and United Kingdom-based DLA LLP to form DLA Piper.

A spokesperson for the Mount Washington and Baltimore offices responded to a request for comment with the above statement.

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in Baltimore City Paper, Leafly, DCist and BmoreArt, among other outlets. He enjoys basketball, humid Mid-Atlantic summers and story tips.
Ethan McLeod
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