7 out of 10 UK law firms affected by cyber crime in 2014?

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has reported that in 2014, nearly 70% of UK law firms reported a cyber security incident.

cyber security guy or hackerRead more: here.

The first half of the article focuses on bogus law firms. The second paragraph under the ad is about how cyber crime affects law firms.

For the record: the English police does not investigate such incidents. If you take such a matter to the police, at best you’ll be told to block the person on Facebook (officer in Portsmouth) or
to hire a cyber security firm to deal with the matter (officer in Southampton).

The latter would cost a fortune that the smaller law firms can’t afford. There are two components to this: jacking up your security and hunting down the perpetrator. You can forget about the latter. It would put you out of business.

Uber Technologies – not a law firm – has billions at its disposal; that allowed it to do some investigating that enabled it to file a John Doe lawsuit after its recently reported hacking incident. Which it discovered about half a year after the fact and then kept silent about for another six months. Give or take a few days.

Data security in the legal profession

ICO, which I called some time ago about the continued hacking problems I sometimes write about but which understandably cannot justify the expense to investigate them, issued a warning last year after several data breaches at law firms.

circuitAccording to the ICO, there were fifteen reported incidents of data breaches in the legal profession within a period of three months.

You can read more about it in this article in the online magazine Computing News and on
this article on the ICO website as well as in this pdf file by ICO.

How many legal professionals have ever built a computer from scratch? I have. It worked right away, too. How many legal professionals were taught some computer programming while at university? I was.

Active tampering is commonplace, says Google

So if you wondered if, perhaps, law firms are sloppy and that is why they have cyber security incidents, think again.

You can read more: here, on CNET. Chris Palmer, a security programmer on Google’s Chrome team, said it last month.

Active tampering is commonplace

That’s why Google is big fan of encryption and is using Chrome to achieve it. That’s not about e-mail, but about web sites … that you access (read more here).

If you’re into computers and want to know a heck of a lot more about what is going on in the real world out there, dive into a book called “Hacking exposed”.

By the way, most of you really do not want to read the latest Pew report about cyber harassment and cyber bullying, so I am not giving you the link to it. The internet used to be a great place when I was busy building my first web sites. My first web site had voice chat, but almost no one had a microphone or headset attached to their computers in those days.  If they had a computer. That’s how long ago it is when the internet was still really cool.

“Solicitors should not use email at all”

In an article in Computing News last year about the warning ICO issued to the legal profession after a series of data breaches, Richard Anstey, CTO EMEA for collaboration tools provider Intralinks, was asked for his input on ICO’s top tips for barristers and solicitors. computerHe said the following:

“instead of ensuring email is encrypted or password-protected, solicitors shouldnot use email at all”

You can read what he recommends using instead in the article in Computing News and possibly follow it up by going here. (I don’t know how accurate the information is on that site, but it will get you started.)

Which hurdles do litigants in person face?

What are the hurdles litigants in person run into? I have talked about this a few times before.

a form of hurdlesA review of all the complaints litigants in person made between 1 January 2011 and 31 March 2012 to the Professional Conduct Department of the Bar Standards Board against barristers provides further insights. The number of complaints made by litigants in person takes up 25% of all such complaints.

Most of the litigants in person who made these complaints were involved in civil matters. Almost half of their complaints had to do with County Court proceedings. 11% concerned the High Court and 18% tribunals.

47% of these litigants were claimants and 41% were defendants. (The role of the remaining litigants (12%) was not clear, apparently.) In 25% of these cases, the litigant had obtained some legal advice, while 75% of the complaining litigants had relied on their own research during the litigation.

30% of the complainants indicated that they might have a disability; this number reflects the percentage of litigants in person with disabilities, regardless of whether they file a complaint or not.

Most of the cases concerned property, construction and planning, followed by family law with employment taking third place (excluding work injuries).

57% of the complainants did not appear to understand all aspects of legal proceedings. In general, these complainants did not appear to understand that the barrister for the other side is there to represent the other side’s views and to do their best for that other party.

As a litigant in person, it is your responsibility to present your own viewpoint within the context of the law. You cannot rely on the other party’s barrister to do that for you; it would be naïve to expect otherwise.

32% of all complainants seemed to expect the Bar Standards Board to overrule the courts, or be an alternative to the courts, and make a (new) decision. That is not what the Bar Standards Board does. Only a higher court can look at what a lower court did, and possibly reverse a decision made by a lower court.

In my view, paying close attention to the actions of the barrister working for the other side can actually enhance your own understanding as a litigant in person. They’re the professionals who can teach you a thing or two.

Hacker update

Today, he is playing violin sounds and the sounds of footsteps in gravel on this computer.


Grab a chair, a steaming mug of coffee and some chocolate chip cookies and pull up to my desk for a good real-life story about my hacker.

He – or maybe, they, because when people hide in anonymity, who’s to say who it really is – seems to love that theme. Around Christmas, he also played the sound of approaching footsteps in gravel (and the sounds of a crackling fire). I think I’ve heard him play the footsteps before that, too.

But you’ll forgive me if I haven’t kept track of all the sounds he’s played on my computers in nearly seven years’ time. In the past, he has done something similar with train stations along the route Bristol-Portsmouth. The approach theme.

I have no idea what it is all about and I couldn’t care less.

These true-life tales from my desk may help keep my readers entertained, however. That way, I can put this to some good use. Enjoy!

Last week, he used YouTube sound in Chrome to flood sounds into this computer. Today it’s the BBC iplayer’s sound in Chrome. That is, these sound channels are not working and it coincides with the hacker feeding sounds into this computer. I wonder how he does that…!

What’s your life like?


a reminder?The above questions all pertain to socially perceived necessities. These questions do not constitute a proper survey, but may help you remain aware of what it means to be poor in 21st-century Britain and how that might relate to feelings of freedom and happiness.

Not every kid gets to play baseball or volleyball if he or she wants to. Many kids go hungry too often in this country, and many necessities are more expensive for those who are poor.

If you want to know more about the topic, read “Breadline Britain, the rise of mass poverty” by Stewart Lansley and Joanna Mack. It received praise from Nobel Prize winner in Economics Amartya Sen.


How not to negotiate after someone’s made a mistake

A lot of time and effort is often wasted by starting negotiations with hostilities. “Shoot first, ask questions later.” is not the right foot to start off on when you want someone else to do something for you.

dancingWe’re all humans and people make mistakes. When someone else makes a mistake, don’t run to the newspapers right away, rejoicing when they print an article with exclamation marks. “The other party hurt me!”

If you do, you’ve just thrown away your early advantage. You’re entering the negotiations stage in an atmosphere of hostility, of abusiveness. That is likely to make the other party want to put its foot down first to cover its own ass. It will have no choice. You’ve forced it to. You may also have made the other party consult a lawyer before it will even talk with you about the matter. You’ve taken away the other side’s ability to say: “Sorry, that was a mistake, we’ll fix it.”

As incredible as it may seem, not everyone is out to get you.

When someone makes a mistake that you want rectified, the first thing to do it to pick up the telephone, call the party and say something like “Hi, how are you today? Isn’t it wonderful that we hadn’t had any rain in weeks? I love the sunshine. But I am not calling to talk about the sunshine, of course.” You can also call the party to arrange to meet in person.

Then you first  COMPLIMENT the other party about something it has done well.

Next you say something like “But did you know that…” and then you mention the thing that you want remedied. Now you’ve given the other side a chance to say “No, I didn’t know that. That was an oversight on our part. I’m awfully sorry. We’ll fix it.”

Britons love a good fight. I know that. But fights are much better when you can watch them on telly. In real life, fights can waste a lot of time and a lot of money. Your time and your money and the other side’s time and money. Be smart. Don’t start to sling mud at the other party right away. Do what you would like to see happen if you were in the shoes of the other party and had made an honest mistake.

You must of course make a note of your phone call, and you should take photos, if possible, of the situation that needs fixing. If it’s easy for you to record your side – but only your side – of the phone call, then you can do that too. If you want to record the other party’s voice as well, you will have to make them aware of that possibility when they call you or ask their permission if you call them. But that could put the party on edge and make them avoid saying “sorry, we’ll fix it”, so I don’t recommend wanting to record what the other party says, as a general rule.

Treat the other party how  you would like to be treated. Do  you want to find out that you made an honest mistake by reading about it in a newspaper article?

Back in operation

After I suspended services recently (post taken offline now) because of disruptive hacker activity, I managed to find a way to identify the hacker. Now I can sue him.

That should make the little shit wet his pants and stay put, so that none of my clients suffer the effects of his tyranny from now on. Too many people have already suffered as a result of his antics. This shit really needed to stop.

Targeted hacking does not constitute an “honest mistake”. It’s a deliberate act, violating many rights of the party who gets hacked.

In fact, in this particular case, it’s a series of deliberate hate crimes.

You buy everything else online

Why not legal services too?

What we do increases the value of your time. You could for example be out celebrating your son’s birthday, having dinner with your family, or making business phone calls at your place of work, while carry out research for you.

We add peace of mind to your life because of the time we spend for you and the support we give you.






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Stalking: What you need to know

In spite of the image most people have of stalkers being sad loners, in 4 out of 10 cases (40%), friends and relatives of the stalker assist the stalker with the stalking activities (article in the Independent, referring to research at the University of Leicester). Friends and family of the prime target sometimes become targeted as well (17% of cases). Continue reading

Empathy Bear feels your pain

Meanwhile… I have read many blog posts about people who have had their benefits cut for the silliest reasons such as having written a perfect application letter instead of one with long convoluted sentences, because someone else forgot to update their phone number, or because they made one spelling mistake when they completed a form.

emathy-bearMost of these posts leave me as speechless as the bear in the image on the right, which I nicked from someone’s blog.

All posts related to benefits, sanctions and other poverty issues such as minimum wages that are so low that they don’t enable people to support themselves or disabled people losing their means of transport, I see them as part of the category “eviction and homelessness”. Because that’s what these matters tend to lead to.

“Empathy Bear feels your pain” does not quite cut it,
so I never post that as a comment on someone else’s blog post.
But what does?

Last week, I read that the many cuts to legal aid have gone so far that some lawyers out there are working for less than the minimum wage now. In spite of the negative image the legal profession tends to have, many of those professionals fight hard for everyone’s rights and some are highly idealistic human beings.

A burden shared is a burden halved, they say.

“Designing out homelessness in the UK”

I like Paddy Beirne’s approach to tackling homelessness in the UK. His attitude seems different, much more “can-do” than what you normally see. Check it out.

He is right, you know. Homelessness is largely a practical problem. As practical as running out of tea and having to go to the shop to get some more tea.

Designing Out Homelessness in the UK.