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On Jan. 2, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 19-year-old Igor Serebryany at his parents’ home in Los Angeles. The FBI alleged he stole from DirecTV Inc. confidential documents that could help a hacker pirate the satellite provider’s signal and that he posted those documents on the Internet. He faces up to 10 years in prison and potential fines of up to $250,000. Assistant U.S. Attorney James Spertus is prosecuting the case. The FBI said Serebryany will be charged and prosecuted under the 1996 Electronic Espionage Act, which makes economic espionage and theft of trade secrets crimes punishable by fines, prison time, or both. The EEA’s definition of each (“without authorization copies . . . downloads, uploads”) gives the law a distinctive digital flavor. This arrest is the latest in the ongoing war between DirecTV and the pirate “community” that keeps trying to sabotage its scrambled signals. But there’s another reason why the legal tech community needs to monitor this case: It happened on its home turf. The alleged theft occurred at the Los Angeles office of Jones Day, at its imaging center, outsourced to Uniscribe, a professional services company that specializes in litigation support. According to FBI documents, Serebryany reportedly copied 800 MB of data onto two compact discs and used the firm’s copy center computers to search for Web sites used by hackers eager to pirate satellite service. Jones Day’s client DirecTV was in a civil dispute concerning, ironically, misappropriation of company secrets. Serebryany’s attorney, Federal Public Defender Charles Brown, has declined to comment on the matter, according to The Washington Post.Jones Day’s spokesman, Paul Engle, told Law Technology Newsthat the firm also is not commenting at this time. But Uniscribe president and CEO Ronald Self is talking. In a Jan. 17 interview with Law Technology News,Self said his company — and the law firms it works with — have learned important lessons from the incident. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance,” said Self, of the Jones Day incident. “We have 1,300 employees, and we had three employees on that site. [Serebryany] wasn’t even an employee, he was brought in by our person to help in a crunch.” Jones Day and Uniscribe’s other client firms have been nothing but supportive and sympathetic, said Self. Everybody recognized that it was a situation “that could happen to anyone.” Uniscribe continues to work with Jones Day. “Obviously, we’re not running their imaging facility in L.A., where the breach occurred, but we are still partnering with them in L.A. [on other matters] and at other offices,” Self said. Uniscribe immediately started audits at its 55 law firm sites, and has launched “very constructive discussions” with Jones Day and other client firms about how to beef up security to prevent future breaches. Changes have taken place immediately. For example, Jones Day and other firms have installed fire walls with tight authority levels that limit access to firm information to authorized employees. FIRMS ARE VULNERABLE The EEA isn’t limited to criminal remedies against individuals. Organizations can be prosecuted as well and, if convicted, fined up to $5 million for each offense. While no one has suggested that Uniscribe or Jones Day should face criminal prosecution in this case, the incident does draw attention to a number of questions that could arise when companies — or law firms — process electronic data discovery requests. Wise firms and vendors should take a cue from this incident, and consider the following questions: • Are you vulnerable in a civil action for negligence claims over document processing? • How likely is it that a “corporate hacker” would attempt direct network intrusion of a law firm or engage in “social engineering” to gain access to valuable client information? • How are vendors screening their employees, especially temps? • What else should be done, besides fire walls and proxy servers, to safeguard valuable electronic information? This article was distributed by the American Lawyer Media News Service. Christopher Brown is a principal in AFH Services Inc., a legal technology consulting firm based in Clinton, Md. He can be reached at [email protected].

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