EYE NEWSFLASH: Major ‘cybersecurity Issue’ Preventing Transactions Progressing

A major cybersecurity issue affecting the property legal sector is creating mayhem in property chains across the UK.

O’Neill Patient’s website this morning

Exchanges and completions are at risk of being severely delayed as conveyancing firms struggle to access necessary systems to progress transactions.

It is understood that a major outage from legal sector specialist infrastructure service provider, CTS, is having a major knock-on impact, with up to 80 law firms affected. The supplier has now issued a statement. Please see below*.

Companies adversely affected by the incident are believed to include Taylor Rose, Gateley, Talbots, Setfords, and O’Neill Patient, among others.

O’Neil Patient told EYE this morning that they are working hard to rectify the issue, but would not go into further details at the time. But they have now issued a rather length statement**, which you can also read below.

Also talking to EYE, a spokesperson for Taylor Rose MW, said: “We can confirm that in common with many legal services firms, our operations have been impacted in the latter half of this week by the temporary outage of a technology platform operated by a third-party supplier. We apologise to our clients for the disruption. We are in close contact with the supplier and are expecting the issue to be resolved in the coming days. In the meantime, we are finding alternative solutions to deal with urgent client matters and keep clients informed.”

Rob Hailstone, CEO and founder of Bold Legal Group, told EYE a short while ago that it is essential estate agents and conveyancers cooperate to ensure they minimise the disruptions currently being caused by the cybersecurity issue.

He said: “The recent cybersecurity incident currently affecting a large number of law firms will be traumatic for those directly, and indirectly involved. The information being passed down to the affected firms is likely to be sparse. Thankfully the market is quieter than usual but to counter that we have the Christmas rush building up.

“Agents and conveyancers need to work together to try to minimise the difficulties that may be being imposed on each other and on clients hoping to exchange a complete. Hopefully a solution will be found sooner rather than later.

The incident is prompting fears among some of an IT data breach akin to the one Simplify experienced two years ago.

The cyber-attack forced Simplify to temporarily take down its systems and eventually cost the company close to £7m, the annual report of its holding company UKLS Acquisitions revealed.

The Simplify incident affected Premier Property Lawyers, JS Law, DC Law and Advantage Property Lawyers – delaying a number of property transactions from moving forward in the process.

*CTS, the infrastructure service provider, said in a statement:

“We are experiencing a service outage which has impacted a portion of the services we deliver to some of our clients.

“The outage was caused by a cyber-incident. We are working closely with a leading global cyber forensics firm to help us with an urgent investigation into the incident and to assist us in service restoration.

“We continue to work around the clock with the assistance of third-party experts. Whilst we are confident that we will be able to restore services, we are unable to give a precise timeline for full restoration. We will continue to communicate directly with those of our clients which are impacted by the service outage, providing regular updates on the status of our work to restore services and our investigations into the incident.”

**See statement from O’Neil Patient:

“Our infrastructure service provider has suffered an outage, which has taken down some of our systems, due to a cyber incident on their side. You can find their most recent statement at the bottom of the page.

“This issue is impacting a number of organisations across the sector, as our provider is a specialist in secure legal systems for many law firms and barrister’s chambers. Progress has been encouraging with forensic experts and engineers actively resolving the issue.

“There is no evidence to suggest that any data integrity has been compromised, and we will not be bringing our systems back online until we have all the assurances that it is safe to do so. Separately, we have also brought in external expertise to ensure the safety and security of our systems and data.

“This outage has unfortunately impacted our customers, particularly those who were due to complete on a new home. We understand that this is already a stressful time for people, so we are dedicated to doing all we can to help. We are supporting clients on a case-by-case basis, regarding their personal and individual needs and their well-being is our top priority.

“We have proactively contacted all clients who are affected, particularly those due to move house today. We are also contacting all partners including lenders, brokers and panel managers and are keeping them up-to-date as to the situation.

“As you would expect, the Executive Team are leading together, closely managing the situation, and convening regularly to stay updated.

“Our client relationship team are also dedicated to helping affected clients and providing comprehensive support on both inbound and outbound basis. Anybody who needs to contact us can do so on: 0161 694 3000.

This article was updated at lunch time.

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