A leading conveyancing firm says completions are starting to get going again after the shock of a systems outage last week.

O’Neill Patient Solicitors (ONP) said the firm had been working round the clock to build new operational methods – many of them manual – as clients wait to complete their moves.

Some 80 firms were affected as their infrastructure service provider CTS suffered an outage last Wednesday due to what is being described as a cyber incident.

ONP said there was no evidence to suggest that any of its data integrity had been compromised and it has been able to install new processes to handle cases, restore information visibility and reopen client communication channels.

All affected clients have been contacted and the client relations team has been expanded to support additional enquiries. ONP says it will cover the reasonable cost of clients’ ‘immediate wellbeing needs’ where they are facing imminent deadlines and need extra support.

Nick Hale, chief executive, said: ‘This is an awful situation that is affecting much of our industry. This is already a stressful time for people, particularly those due to complete on a new home. We really feel for everyone affected and we are doing all we can to help. Our clients’ well-being is very much a top priority for me and my whole team.

‘Our teams have been working 24/7 to restore operational service levels and, as a result, each day we’re successfully managing a higher volume of completions and exchanges.’

ONP says it has not yet had an indication from CTS about when network services will be restored. The IT provider has not said anything publicly since last Friday but it is understood that forensic experts and engineers continue to work on the issue.

ONP has brought in external experts to ensure the safety and security of systems and data, which has enabled the firm to achieve the current work-arounds and completions.

Meanwhile, the inquest into what caused the outage – and what might be required to prevent something similar in the future - has begun.

Chester Wisniewski, director with cybersecurity firm Sophos, said managed services providers supplying the legal industry are increasingly a target for cyber criminals attempting to secure ransom payments.

He added: ‘MSPs must take extreme measures to protect themselves and their infrastructure, especially by applying patches as soon as they are publicly available and implementing phishing resistant multifactor authentication across their entire platform.’


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