Law firms weigh forum to combat Chinese cyber threats

Top U.S. law firms are considering a new step to strengthen their defenses against cyber attacks from China and elsewhere aimed at discovering information about their Wall Street clients.

Firms that work for major banks might soon have a forum to anonymously share information about cyber attacks on their networks. The system would reportedly mimic a threat-sharing forum already established for the banking industry.

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Law firms are a key target for hackers interested in corporate spying and intelligence gathering.

Mandiant, the leading security firm, is reportedly consulting with a group of law firms that appear to have been hacked by a group with ties to the Chinese government. The names of the firms have not been released.

The legal threat-sharing forum could be established by the end of the year, sources told The New York Times, which first reported the possibility. The system would be affiliated with the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, where banks trade intelligence about hackers and threats. 

If it comes to fruition, the legal forum will arise from talks between roughly a dozen major Wall Street banks and representatives from white-shoe law firms.

The New York Times reported that JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have met with counsel from firms including Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Sullivan & Cromwell and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. The International Legal Technology Association, a trade group that represents about 2,000 firms, has also been involved, the Times reported.