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Law Firms Form Their Own Threat Intel-Sharing Group

The Legal Services Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (LS-ISAO) Services is launched with the help of the financial services industry.

It's been months in the making, and it's finally official:  the legal sector has launched its own cyber-threat intelligence-sharing mechanism.

The new Legal Services Information Sharing and Analysis Organization (LS-ISAO) Services debuted yesterday -- via the financial services' industry's 15-year-old Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), which is considered one of the most mature ISAC/ISAO groups today. Word that the FS-ISAC was assisting the launch of the legal sector's own group first came earlier this year.

Law firms are a juicy target for cyberattacks given the amount of confidential corporate information they handle, including information on mergers and acquisitions and other legal issues, so it was no surprise the legal sector was prime for an ISAC/ISAO.

"We're providing [to the legal ISAO] the infrastructure to disseminate and receive cybersecurity threat and vulnerability information," says Cindy Donaldson, vice president of products and services with FS-ISAC.

ISACs and ISAOs provide an official mechanism for sharing information about the latest cyberattacks and threats spotted targeting specific industries, for instance, and include databases of the threats and vulnerabilities for their members, as well as provide conferences and other ways for members to interact and share their experiences to better team up against cybercrime and cyber espionage actors. Among the industries with ISACs and ISAOs are the aviation, the defense industrial base, emergency services, IT, maritime, nuclear energy, real estate, public transportation, retail, and water utilities.

The automobile industry last month announced that its new intelligence sharing and analysis center (ISAC) was set and revving up to begin disseminating and exchanging cyber threat information later this year.

[New intelligence-sharing groups/ISACs emerge, software tools arrive and the White House adds a coordinating agency -- but not all of the necessary intel-sharing 'plumbing' is in place just yet. Read Efforts To Team Up And Fight Off Hackers Intensify.]

Donaldson says the FS-ISAC is "actively communicating" with some 200 law firms about the new legal ISAO. ISAO is a term coined by President Obama in an Executive Order this year for expanding the formation of intel-sharing groups, including ISACs. ISACs originally were formed to protect sectors that handle critical infrastructure, but the wave of cybercrime and cyber espionage activity over the past few years has demonstrated how no company or organization is immune to hacking. ISAOs are basically a continuation of that approach.

"It's safe to say that no organization or industry is exempt from the risk" of cyber threats, Donaldson says.

Meanwhile, more ISAOs are in the wings. While she wouldn't divulge details, Donaldson says the FS-ISAC has been approached by a "number of sectors or communities" looking for its help in establishing intel-sharing mechanisms. FS-ISAC also helped the retail industry set up its own ISAC, the R-CISC.

Initially, the LS-ISAO will offer its members access to intel-sharing list servers with threat information and advisories from vendors and government agencies as well as member-to-member threat sharing and other resources. Ultimately, it will evolve to offer portal services for members to securely and anonymously share threat intel, as well as the Holy Grail of intel-sharing: automating the use of the information into the member's internal security tools and networks.

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