Lawyers under cyberattack

Attorneys at the California law firm of Gipson Hoffman & Pancione said that on Monday they began receiving “Trojan emails” crafted to trick them into opening files booby-trapped with malicious software code.

“Trojan emails are specially constructed to retrieve data from the target’s computer and often allow the sender to gain access to the target’s computer or to the company’s servers,” the firm said in a release.

“It has not yet been determined whether any of the attempts were successful.” The law firm last week filed a lawsuit on behalf of Cybersitter accusing China of using the California company’s copyrighted software censorship programs being mandated for computers sold in that country.

The suit contends that markers of the program — known as Green Dam –pirated more than 3,000 lines of computer code from a Cybersitter Internet filtering program marketed to parents interested in limiting where children roam online.

Lenovo and Acer are among the computer makers named as defendants in legal paperwork that claims more than 56 million copies of Green Dam software with pirated code have been distributed.

“Cyberattacks were initiated from within China against Cybersitter itself last June when the Green Dam piracy was first reported in the press,” the law firm said.

While the source of the email “spearphishing” attack aimed at lawyers this week had yet to be pinned down, it appeared to originate in China, according to the company.

The news came a day after Google vowed to stop bowing to Chinese Internet censors and risk banishment from the lucrative market to protest “highly sophisticated” cyberattacks aimed at Chinese human rights activists.

The recent online assaults at Google, Adobe and dozens of other firms appear to have been part of an ongoing campaign to steal precious source codes and track human rights activists, experts said Wednesday.

China-based cyber spies struck the Internet giant and reportedly more than 30 other unidentified firms in an apparent bid for computer source codes, intellectual property, and information about activists around the world.

Tactics included tricking computer users with ruses and ploys referred to as “social engineering.”

Cyber spies apparently selectively targeted workers with emails crafted to appear as though they came from bosses or colleagues.

Messages included attached files rigged with malicious software.

When bogus messages were opened, computers were infected with hidden programs which could swipe information, seize control of machines, or create “back doors” for unauthorized access to files.

The Internet giant did not specifically accuse the Chinese government of being behind the cyberattacks.

But China is being eyed as the probable culprit due to the sophistication of the attacks, the targets, and the fact the assaults originated in that region.

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Lawyers under cyberattack