The security services have advised the UK’s largest law firms to take urgent action against cyber attacks, the Gazette can reveal.

Partners from 40 top firms attended a private briefing last month with officials from the government’s Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the intelligence and communications security agency GCHQ.

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson told the Gazette that threats were particularly serious for any firm ‘involved in international markets, or advising on significant intellectual property matters’.

While there are no specific figures for the legal sector, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills says that 90% of larger businesses and 75% of smaller ones have been subject to some form of cyber attack.

Cyber attacks were, in the main, driven by commercial espionage and data theft, attendees at the briefing heard, although major disruption of IT systems could also be an end in itself.

Hudson called for ‘common endeavour’ against the threat. ‘Firms who work with one another, the Law Society and government agencies will be safer.’

He revealed that Chancery Lane is establishing a cyber security ‘community of interest’, where firms can trade intelligence and best practice.