Category: Privacy Regulation
Massive T-Mobile Data Breach Reignites Calls for National Privacy and Data Security Law
A little over two weeks ago, T-Mobile became the latest victim of a cyberattack when more than 50 million of their customers’ data was stolen. In the ensuing weeks, three class action suits have been filed against the telephone carrier alleging a range of violations. Included in two of them are alleged violations of the California Consumer Privacy Act, one of them includes alleged violations of the Washington State Consumer Protection Act, and the third fails to allege any violations of state data security laws. Three House Representatives pointed to the breach as a reminder as to why there needs to be a national privacy and data security law. One such bill is the Setting an American Framework to Ensure Data Access, Transparency, and Accountability (SAFE DATA) Act.
SEC Signals Renewed Interest in Cybersecurity Disclosure Enforcement
The SEC is ramping up its cybersecurity disclosure enforcement. While the agency had made significant efforts relating to cybersecurity disclosure previously, there has been surprisingly little SEC activity in this area since 2018—even though the last three years has seen an explosion of high-profile data security incidents. That changed in June of this year, however, with the SEC taking three major actions that demonstrate a renewed interest in such enforcement. First, the SEC announced its intention to issue a new rule regulating cybersecurity risk governance disclosure. Second, it announced its first charges and settlement for cybersecurity disclosure violations since 2018. And third, it revealed a significant cybersecurity disclosure investigation relating to the recent SolarWinds supply-chain attack. In light of these developments, now would be a good time for issuers and registered entities to review the SEC’s expectations for cybersecurity disclosure, and implement any necessary changes to their respective policies and procedures, and disclosure practices.
Taking the Ransom Out of Ransomware? Debate on Ransomware Payments Picks Up
The price tags of several high-profile ransomware attacks have made headlines over the past couple of months. Colonial Pipeline, which supplies roughly 45% of the fuel for the East Coast, paid a $4.4 million ransom to hackers (though the FBI reportedly recovered some $2.3 million of it back). JBS USA, a major meat processing company, paid $11 million. With hackers making millions of dollars through single attacks, a debate has arisen about what to do, if anything, about ransomware payments. Some have proposed banning them outright, taking issue with the incentive structure such payments appear to create, while others warn about the negative and unintended consequences an outright ban could have, especially for the victims of an attack.
New York City Enacts A Biometric Privacy Law
Earlier this year, New York City passed a law restricting the collection and/or use of biometric technology by certain businesses. The new law goes into effect July 9, meaning applicable businesses have a couple more weeks to prepare themselves for its requirements. Businesses need only look to similar laws in other states, particularly Illinois, for a glimpse at the litigation that may come should they fail to abide by the new law’s provisions.
New York Gets Ready to Jump on the Biometric Bandwagon
Companies that do business in New York or with New Yorkers could soon face an onslaught of biometric privacy-related litigation, courtesy of New York Assembly Bill 27, the Biometric Privacy Act (“BPA”). Currently pending before the legislature, the bill is modeled on Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”) and, like that law, would impose a set of rules businesses must follow when collecting biometric information. Critically, the BPA would create a private right of action for those “aggrieved” by violations of the law.
Who’s On the Other Side: OFAC Releases Guidance on Ransomware Payments and Sanctions Enforcement
As we previously reported, companies across the globe increasingly have been targeted by cyber criminals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Just last month, a major U.S. healthcare provider, United Health Services (“UHS”), suffered a ransomware attack, crippling its digital networks and forcing many UHS-owned facilities to rely on offline backups and paper charts to provide health care. The attack on UHS is one of the latest incidents in a trend of increasing ransomware attacks, a type of cyberattack in which cyber criminals use malware to block access to the victim’s computer system to extract a monetary payment. Ransomware victims are already faced with difficult decisions regarding payment and business continuity. But the underlying risk associated with such payments runs deeper, in no small part because cyber criminals are almost universally anonymous. A recent advisory (the “Advisory”) from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) provides guidance on ransomware payments that may implicate U.S. sanctions. The Advisory makes clear that parties that pay or facilitate ransomware payments may face substantial legal consequences if a payment is made to a party subject to U.S. sanctions, whether the payor knows of those sanctions or not.
COVID-19 Cyber Risks Continue to Grow
As we previously detailed, the coronavirus pandemic has expanded opportunities for nefarious actors to exploit the digital vulnerabilities of individuals, local governments, industries, organizations, and essential services as they rapidly adapt to the public health crisis. Recent reports have confirmed that attacks and cyber scams associated with the pandemic are in fact on the rise.
CCPA Update: California Attorney General Releases Proposed Regulations
On October 11, 2019, the California Attorney General released its long-anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Action and the text of its proposed regulations for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), along with an Initial Statement of Reasons for the proposed regulations. The documents are not a short read, with the proposed regulations covering 24 pages, the Notice 16 pages, and the Statement of Reasons another 47 pages.
FDA Issues Updated Guidance on Medical Apps Oversight
Last month, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued a long-awaited revision to its Policy for Device Software Functions and Mobile Medical Applications Medical App - Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff (the Guidance). The revised Guidance was among several newly announced policies aimed at advancing the FDA’s digital health initiative that promotes innovation, while also permitting efficient and up-to-date regulatory oversight.
Amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act: Six Clarifications
As readers of the Data Security Blog will know, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) becomes operative on January 1, 2020. The CCPA is the most sweeping consumer privacy law in the United States, covering most for-profit businesses that do business in California and collect the personal information of “consumers,” meaning California residents.
New York’s SHIELD Act Heads to the Governor’s Desk
The New York State Senate recently passed The Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security Act, or SHIELD Act, leaving only the Governor’s signature as the final step to the SHIELD Act becoming the country’s newest—and one of the most stringent—breach notification laws. Given Governor Cuomo’s previous support for robust cybersecurity protections, New York may soon join a growing number of states beefing up their notification statutes.
GAO Backs “Comprehensive” Privacy Legislation
A recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is recommending that Congress adopt comprehensive federal data privacy legislation. The GAO’s proposal is, in part, meant to address limitations of the current privacy regulatory landscape, which is mostly piecemeal, industry-specific regulation at both the federal and state levels. The GAO’s 56-page report follows more than a year of interviews with officials from various federal agencies that have taken active roles in data security issues, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Federal Communications Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as stakeholders from industry and academia.
Part 2: More from DOJ on Cyber Investigations and Breach Preparedness
This is the second post in our two-part series about DOJ’s revised guidance on its “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting Cyber Incidents.” In the first installment, we looked at DOJ’s recommendations for preparedness. Today, we turn to the basics of data breach incident response and a list of DOJ’s “don’ts” when dealing with a hacker.
Part 1: DOJ Weighs In on Cyber Investigations & Breach Preparedness
The U.S. Department of Justice is increasing its outreach to the private sector on all things cyber.
Last week, the DOJ’s Criminal Division held a cybersecurity roundtable to discuss challenges in handling data breach investigations. As part of the roundtable discussion, the DOJ issued revised guidance on its “Best Practices for Victim Response and Reporting Cyber Incidents.” The Best Practices guidance, summarized below, is the result of the DOJ’s outreach efforts concerning ways in which the government can work more effectively with the private sector to address cybersecurity challenges. The goal of the roundtable discussion, which started in 2015, is to foster and enhance cooperation between law enforcement and data breach victims, and to also encourage information sharing.
Part II: Hidden Costs of Bug Bounty Programs
Many big data and technology companies consider “bug bounty” programs – incentive-based initiatives that reward “ethical” hackers who report data security bugs or vulnerabilities – attractive and cost-effective tools for weeding out security flaws.
California Legislature Makes Last-Minute Changes to New Data Privacy Law
As California’s legislative session came to a close late last month, the state’s lawmakers passed SB-1121, approving a series of tweaks to the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 or CCPA, the far-ranging data privacy law enacted earlier this summer. The new bill now heads to the governor for consideration.
Hospital Hit with $4.3 Million Fine for “Snail’s Pace” HIPAA Compliance
Healthcare organizations take note: not following your own data security rules can be costly, very costly. And the more time it takes to comply, the faster the fines stack up.
Bug Bounty Programs: What Every Organization Needs to Know
More and more companies are paying up – and paying more – to so-called “ethical” hackers who report data security bugs or vulnerabilities for a bounty.
A report released last week by Bugcrowd, a crowdsourced cybersecurity firm, says that companies are now dolling out more than ever in bug bounties. But what are bug bounty programs, and why should companies care?
Facebook Gears Up for High Stakes Biometric Trial
In one of the first major tests of the Illinois biometric data privacy law, Facebook is headed to trial this summer over allegations that the social media giant unlawfully collects user data with its photo tagging function. Last week, U.S. District Judge James Donato denied cross motions for summary judgment in a class action pending in Northern California, noting the “multitude of fact disputes in the case.”
Wearable Technology Fits into Professional Sports
Professional athletes, teams, and leagues have embraced wearable technology. But as this new technology becomes ubiquitous, a new category of valuable—and personally sensitive—data has emerged, raising novel data security issues and incentives for would-be hackers.
Insurance Industry Cybersecurity Law Moves Closer to Becoming a Reality
The insurance industries in South Carolina and Rhode Island may soon be required to adopt formal data security safeguards, a movement sparked by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Insurance Data Security Model Law. The model law, which NAIC adopted in October 2017, establishes minimum standards for data security applicable to insurance providers. It is part of a growing body of state-level cybersecurity legislation, including the New York State Department of Financial Services regulation issued in March 2017. We blogged about the model law back in January.
Uber’s Latest Headache
An expanded settlement by the Federal Trade Commission with ride-sharing giant Uber Technologies should serve as a lesson to other businesses about what happens when a company fails to disclose a data breach during an ongoing agency investigation.
The Warning Behind the Numbers: New York’s 2017 Data Breach Report
On its face, last week’s report that the number of data breaches reported last year to New York’s Attorney General spiked to an all-time high of 1,583 – up 23 percent from 2016 – was not good news.
But behind the numbers are even more disturbing trends. Start with the fact that hacking – the handy work of outside intruders – was the leading cause of reported breaches last year, accounting for 44 percent of reported breaches. Hacking also accounted for nearly 95 percent of all personal information exposed. In second place was employee error or negligence, which represented 25 percent of last year’s reported breaches.
Former Equifax Exec Charged with Insider Trading: Underscores Need for Trading Halt Plans
The Equifax hack has taken another twist – one that raises questions that every public company should consider.
Last week, federal prosecutors charged Equifax’s former Chief Information Officer, Jun Ying, with insider trading for allegedly dumping nearly $1 million in stock before the massive Equifax breach went public. He also faces civil charges filed by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The DFS Effect: Cyber Meets Sarbanes Oxley
Today, financial institutions with ties to New York are spending their Valentine’s Day learning how to use the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) web portal.
Almost a year ago, the DFS unveiled one of the most aggressive efforts in the nation to crack down on cybercrime in the banking and insurance industries. And by tomorrow, more than 3,000 firms are required to file through the agency’s online portal their first ever compliance certificate, swearing that their organization has satisfied the first phase of requirements under the state’s new cybersecurity regulation.
“Legally Reprehensible”: Senate Chastises Uber’s Conduct in 2016 Data Breach
On Tuesday, a Senate subcommittee grilled Uber’s Chief Information Security Officer, John Flynn, over a 2016 data breach that affected nearly 57 million drivers and riders. At the hearing, Uber faced backlash from lawmakers for its “morally wrong and legally reprehensible” conduct that “violated not only the law but the norm of what should be expected.”
Equifax Must Turn Over NY Breach Data This Week
New York State regulators won’t be letting Equifax, Inc. off-the-hook any time soon for last year’s massive data breach that affected more than 145 million Americans.
New York Launches Mid-Term Election Cyber Initiative
Cybersecurity will remain at the top of New York State’s regulatory agenda this year.
Avatars, Facial Scans & Virtual Basketball: Second Circuit Tosses Biometric Privacy Case
A recent federal appellate ruling delivered a significant blow to invasion of privacy claims based on facial recognition technology used to scan users’ faces that are then put on their personalized players “in-game,” allowing them to play side-by-side with basketball stars in a popular video game.
Part Two: In-Depth Look at New York’s New Data Security Bill
Second in a two-part series.
Last week, in the first part of this series, we examined several key aspects of New York’s proposed data security law, Stop Hacks and Improve Data Security Act or SHIELD Act. In our second and final installment, we discuss three additional aspects of the proposed law.
An In-Depth Look at New York’s New Data Security Bill
First in a two-part series.
As we reported last week, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has introduced a bill aimed at protecting New Yorkers from data breaches.
Hackers Score Touchdown: NFL Players Association Hit With Data Breach
A data breach of the National Football League Players Association’s (“NFLPA”) website has exposed the personal information of nearly 1,200 players and agents.
Memo to Congress: Five Key Questions for Upcoming Equifax Hearings
Richard F. Smith – who presided over Equifax Inc. as CEO during one of the largest data breaches in a generation – will testify before two congressional committees next week.
Equifax Data Suppliers Urged by DFS to Give Hack “Highest Degree of Attention”
Yesterday, New York’s top financial regulator asked state-chartered banks and insurers to take immediate precautions to protect consumers and the financial markets “in light of the cybersecurity attack” at Equifax Inc.
Equifax: The Empire State Strikes Back
Today, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he has directed the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to issue a new regulation requiring “credit reporting agencies to register with” the DFS, as well as comply with the Department’s “first-in-the-nation cybersecurity standard.” According to Governor Cuomo, the Equifax breach was a “wakeup call,” and New York is now “raising the bar for consumer protections” with the “hope” the DFS’s approach “will be replicated across the nation.”
Hack Hangover: The News Keeps Getting Worse for Equifax
Since the massive data breach at Equifax Inc. was disclosed late Thursday (see our blog here), the news has only gotten worse for the Atlanta-based credit monitoring agency.
8th Circuit Finds Standing in Data Breach Case but Dismisses on Pleading Deficiencies
In one of the first federal appellate court rulings following the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Robins v. Spokeo, the Eighth Circuit delivered a pyrrhic victory for customers victimized by a data breach. In Kuhns v. Scottrade, the Eighth Circuit ruled that, although the plaintiff had established standing to pursue a claim against Scottrade, Inc. resulting from a data breach that occurred in 2013, the customer failed to sufficiently allege that the brokerage firm breached its contractual obligations and affirmed dismissal of the case.
Deadline to Meet DFS Cyber Regulation Is Monday
Banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions have only a few days left to comply with the first wave of requirements under New York’s controversial new cybersecurity regulation.
DFS Cyber Regulation Countdown: Who Should Certify Compliance?
Companies subject to New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) new cybersecurity regulation should be preparing to comply with the first round of requirements by the upcoming August 28th deadline: enacting a cybersecurity program and policies, implementing user access privileges, designating a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), employing qualified personnel, and implementing an incident response plan.
FTC Chronicle: “Lessons Learned” from the Agency’s Data Breach Investigations
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – often criticized for not providing clear guidance as to what the agency considers reasonable data security – announced on Friday that it would publish a weekly blog discussing “lessons learned” from data security investigations that were closed without a formal enforcement action.
DFS Cyber Compliance Nightmare?Detailed survey results indicate compliance is far from reach
New York’s powerful Department of Financial Services (DFS) upended cybersecurity regulation with its new and sweeping “Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies,” which took effect on March 1, 2017. But is the financial industry ready and equipped to comply with this detailed regulation? According to a recent survey published by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Fasoo, the answer is an unequivocal “no.”
DFS Issues Additional Guidance for Cyber Regulation Compliance
New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) has issued additional guidance for compliance with the state’s sweeping cybersecurity regulation that went into effect earlier this year. Companies covered by the regulation must comply with the first round of requirements by August 28th.
When Health Data Goes Missing: Largest Reported Ransomware Attack
In the aftermath of two powerful global ransomware attacks, a Michigan-based medical equipment provider has disclosed that hackers “encrypted our data files” and accessed more than 500,000 patient records in what is believed to be the largest reported ransomware attack on health care information.
11th Circuit Hears Oral Argument in LabMD Case
Yesterday morning, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, sitting in Miami, heard oral argument in the case of LabMD, Inc. v. Federal Trade Commission, No. 16-16270.
For purposes of this post, we presume readers are familiar with this case, which we’ve blogged about extensively since the Federal Trade Commission lodged an Administrative Complaint against LabMD back in 2013. Briefly, the core question on appeal is whether the FTC overstepped its authority under Section 5(n) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 45(n)) when it initiated an enforcement action against LabMD, a Georgia medical testing lab, after certain patient data files were apparently misappropriated, but no patent data actually fell into the wrong hands, and no individual patient suffered any cognizable injury, such as identity theft.
A question of harm: LabMD to face off with FTC at 11th Circuit
In a consequential test of the Federal Trade Commission’s authority as a data security regulator, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit will hear argument tomorrow in a case that will determine whether the agency must show a concrete consumer injury as an element of an enforcement action, just as private plaintiffs have been required to do for years.
NYS Cyber Regulation Countdown: Continuous Monitoring
In our series of posts leading up to the August 28th deadline for the first phase of requirements under New York’s cybersecurity regulation, the Patterson Belknap team looks at issues that institutions face as they implement the new rules.
In complying with the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) cybersecurity regulation, financial institutions have a choice. They can either employ “continuous monitoring” or, instead, conduct annual “penetration testing” and bi-annual “vulnerability assessments.”
DFS Cyber Compliance Nightmare?New survey reports less than half of financial firms will meet deadline
A new survey by the Ponemon Institute reports that less than half of the financial institutions covered by New York’s sweeping new cybersecurity regulation say they will “likely” meet next February’s compliance deadline. And even more stunning is the fact that only 13% of those institutions surveyed reported “with certainty” that they would be in full compliance with the regulation by next year.
NYS Cyber Regulation Countdown: “Risk Assessment” – Now or Later?
In our series of posts leading up to the August 28th deadline for the first phase of requirements under New York’s cybersecurity regulation, the Patterson Belknap team looks at issues that institutions face as they implement the new rules.
Ninety Days and Counting: NY Cyber Regulation’s First Deadline
Faced with an approaching August 28th deadline, the more than 3,000 financial institutions that do business in New York should be knee-deep in implementing the first wave of requirements under the State’s sweeping and unprecedented cybersecurity regulation.
Colorado Regulator Proposes New Cybersecurity Rules for Financial Institutions
Increasingly, states are enacting cybersecurity regulations for financial institutions and investment advisors. Following New York’s groundbreaking regulation (which we have covered in detail here), Colorado recently proposed changes to its state securities act that would impose new cybersecurity requirements on broker-dealers and investment advisors that operate in the state.
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