Criminal investigation opened into outage that caused property transfer chaos | News

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A ‘security incident’ which caused a major outage of IT systems affecting some of the UK’s largest conveyancing companies is under criminal investigation, the Gazette has learned.

Premier Property Lawyers, JS Law, DC Law and Advantage Property Lawyers, part of the Simplify Group, were the subject of a security incident late on November 7, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, a specialist regulator, noted yesterday.

When asked if the incident was a denial of service attack, Simplify answered the Gazette: ‘Our initial investigations have confirmed that certain IT systems had been the subject of a security incident. This is now the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, so it would not be appropriate to comment further on the type of incident.

Simplify said it has taken steps to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office and other relevant authorities as soon as possible.

According to CLC, Simplify is unable to confirm when systems will be restored to a degree that would allow a return to business as usual.

When asked if Simplify had hired a specialist contractor to help restore computer systems, Simplify answered the Gazette: ‘We work with a team of specialists and a very experienced team but it would not be appropriate to share their contact details.’

Simplify said details about its IT infrastructure were sensitive and it was unable to share more information for security reasons, “but we use backups where we can, to safely restore security of the computer systems involved”.

An update on Simplify’s website says Cook Taylor Woodhouse, also part of the Simplify Group, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and operates on separate computer systems which were not affected by the incident.

Simplify says Gazette that Cook Taylor Woodhouse retains its own separate systems from before its acquisition by Simplify, which were completely unaffected.

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