NIST Releases Updated Draft of Cybersecurity Framework

On December 5, 2017, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) announced the publication of a second draft of a proposed update to the Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (“Cybersecurity Framework”), Version 1.1, Draft 2. NIST has also published an updated draft Roadmap to the Cybersecurity Framework, which “details public and private sector efforts related to and supportive of [the] Framework.”

Updates to the Cybersecurity Framework

The second draft of Version 1.1 is largely consistent with Version 1.0. Indeed, the second draft was explicitly designed to maintain compatibility with Version 1.0 so that current users of the Cybersecurity Framework are able to implement the Version 1.1 “with minimal or no disruption.” Nevertheless, there are notable changes between the second draft of Version 1.1 and Version 1.0, which include:

Increased emphasis that the Cybersecurity Framework is intended for broad application across all industry sectors and types of organizations. Although the Cybersecurity Framework was originally developed to improve cybersecurity risk management in critical infrastructure sectors, the revisions note that the Cybersecurity Framework “can be used by organizations in any sector or community” and is intended to be useful to companies, government agencies, and nonprofits, “regardless of their focus or size.” As with Version 1.0, users of the Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.1 are “encouraged to customize the Framework to maximize individual organizational value.” This update is consistent with previous updatesto NIST’s other publications, which indicate that NIST is attempting to broaden the focus and encourage use of its cybersecurity guidelines by state, local, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations.

An explicit acknowledgement of a broader range of cybersecurity threats. As with Version 1.0, NIST intended the Cybersecurity Framework to be technology-neutral. This revision explicitly notes that the Cybersecurity Framework can be used by all organizations, “whether their cybersecurity focus is primarily on information technology (“IT”), cyber-physical systems (“CPS”) or connected devices more generally, including the Internet of Things (“IoT”). This change is also consistent with previous updates to NIST’s other publications, which have recently been amended to recognize that cybersecurity risk impacts many different types of systems.

Augmented focus on cybersecurity management of the supply chain. The revised draft expanded section 3.3 to emphasize the importance of assessing the cybersecurity risks up and down supply chains. NIST explains that cyber supply chain risk management (“SCRM”) should address both “the cybersecurity effect an organization has on external parties and the cybersecurity effect external parties have on an organization.” The revised draft incorporates these activities into the Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Tiers, which generally categorize organizations based on the maturity of their cybersecurity programs and awareness. For example, organizations in Tier 1, with the least mature or “partial” awareness, are “generally unaware” of the cyber supply chain risks of products and services, while organizations in Tier 4 use “real-time or near real-time information to understand and consistently act upon” cyber supply chain risks and communicate proactively “to develop and maintain strong supply chain relationships.” The revised draft emphasizes that all organizations should consider cyber SCRM when managing cybersecurity risks.

Increased emphasis on cybersecurity measures and metrics. NIST added a new section 4.0 to the Cybersecurity Framework that highlights the benefits of self-assessing cybersecurity risk based on meaningful measurement criteria, and emphasizes “the correlation of business results to cybersecurity risk management.” According to the draft, “metrics” can “facilitate decision making and improve performance and accountability.” For example, an organization can have standards for system availability and this measurement can be used at a metric for developing appropriate safeguards to evaluate delivery of services under the Framework’s Protect Function. This revision is consistent with the recently-released NIST Special Publication 800-171A, discussed in a previous blog post, which explains the types of cybersecurity assessments that can be used to evaluate compliance with the security controls of NIST Special Publication 800-171.

Future Developments to the Cybersecurity Framework

NIST is soliciting public comments on the draft Cybersecurity Framework and Roadmap no later than Friday, January 19, 2018. Comments can be emailed to cyberframework@nist.gov.

NIST intends to publish a final Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.1 in early calendar year 2018.

 

© 2017 Covington & Burling LLP
This post was written by Susan B. Cassidy and Moriah Daugherty of Covington & Burling LLP.
 

So…Everyone’s Been Compromised? What To Do In The Wake of the Equifax Breach

By now, you’ve probably heard that over 143 million records containing highly sensitive personal information have been compromised in the Equifax data breach. With numbers exceeding 40% of the population of the United States at risk, chances are good that you or someone you know – or more precisely, many people you know – will be affected. But until you know for certain, you are probably wondering what to do until you find out.

To be sure, there has been a lot of confusion. Many feel there was an unreasonable delay in reporting the breach. And now that it has been reported, some have suggested that people who sign up with the Equifax website to determine if they were in the breach might be bound to an arbitration clause and thereby waive their right to file suit if necessary later (although Equifax has since said that is not the case). Others have reported that the “personal identification number” (PIN) provided by Equifax for those who do register with the site is nothing more than a date and time stamp, which could be subject to a brute-force attack, which is not necessarily reassuring when dealing with personal information. Still others have reported that the site itself is subject to vulnerabilities such as cross-site scripting (XSS), which could give hackers another mechanism to steal personal information. And some have even questioned the validity of the responses provided by Equifax when people query to see if they might have been impacted.

In all the chaos, it’s hard to know how to best proceed. Fortunately, you have options other than using Equifax’s website.

1. Place a Credit Freeze

Know that if you are a victim of the breach, you will be notified by Equifax eventually. In the meantime, consider placing a credit freeze on your accounts with the three major credit reporting bureaus. All three major credit reporting bureaus allow consumers to freeze their credit reports for a small fee, and you will need to place a freeze with each credit bureau. If you are the victim of identity fraud, or if your state’s law mandates, a credit freeze can be implemented without charge. In some states, you may incur a small fee. Lists of fees for residents of various states can be found at the TransUnionExperian, and Equifax websites. Placing a freeze on your credit reports will restrict access to your information and make it more difficult for identity thieves to open accounts in your name. This will not affect your credit score but there may be a second fee associated with lifting a credit freeze, so it is important to research your options before proceeding. Also, know that you will likely face a delay period before a freeze can be lifted, so spur-of-the-moment credit opportunities might suffer.

Here is information for freezing your credit with each credit bureau:

Equifax Credit Freeze

  • You may do a credit freeze online or by certified mail (return receipt requested) to:

            Equifax Security Freeze

            P.O. Box 105788

            Atlanta, GA 30348

  • To unfreeze, you must do a temporary thaw by regular mail, online or by calling 1-800-685-1111 (for New York residents call 1-800-349-9960).

Experian Credit Freeze

  • You may do a credit freeze online, by calling 1-888-EXPERIAN (1-888-397-3742) or by certified mail (return receipt requested) to:

            Experian

            P.O. Box 9554

            Allen, TX 75013

  • To unfreeze, you must do a temporary thaw online or by calling 1-888-397-3742.

TransUnion Credit Freeze

  • You may do a credit freeze online, by phone (1-888-909-8872) or by certified mail (return receipt requested) to:

            TransUnion LLC

            P.O. Box 2000

            Chester, PA 19016

  • To unfreeze, you must do a temporary thaw online or by calling 1-888-909-8872.

After you complete a freeze, make sure you have a pen and paper handy because you will be given a PIN code to keep in a safe place.

2. Obtain a Free Copy of Your Credit Report

Consider setting up a schedule to obtain a copy of your free annual credit report from each of the reporting bureaus on a staggered basis. By obtaining and reviewing a report from one of the credit reporting bureaus every three or four months, you can better position yourself to respond to unusual or fraudulent activity more frequently. Admittedly, there is a chance that one of the reporting bureaus might miss an account that is reported by the other two but the benefit offsets the risk.

3. Notify Law Enforcement and Obtain a Police Report

If you find you are the victim of identity fraud (that is, actual fraudulent activity – not just being a member of the class of affected persons), notify your local law enforcement agency to file a police report. Having a police report will help you to challenge fraudulent activity, will provide you with verification of the fraud to provide to credit companies’ fraud investigators, and will be beneficial if future fraud occurs. To that end, be aware that additional fraud may arise closer to the federal tax filing deadline and having a police report already on file can help you resolve identity fraud problems with the Internal Revenue Service if false tax returns are filed under your identity.

4. Obtain an IRS IP PIN

Given the nature of the information involved in the breach, an additional option for individuals residing in Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C. is to obtain an IRS IP PIN, which is a 6-digit number assigned to eligible taxpayers to help prevent the misuse of Social Security numbers in federal tax filings. An IP PIN helps the IRS verify a taxpayer’s identity and accept their electronic or paper tax return. When a taxpayer has an IP PIN, it prevents someone else from filing a tax return with the taxpayer’s SSN.

If a return is e-filed with a taxpayer’s SSN and an incorrect or missing IP PIN, the IRS’s system will reject it until the taxpayer submits it with the correct IP PIN or the taxpayer files on paper. If the same conditions occur on a paper filed return, the IRS will delay its processing and any refund the taxpayer may be due for the taxpayer’s protection while the IRS determines if it is truly the taxpayer’s.

Information regarding eligibility for an IRS IP PIN and instructions is available here and to access the IRS’s FAQs on the issue, please go here.

Conclusion

Clearly, the Equifax breach raises many issues about which many individuals need to be concerned – and the pathway forward is uncertain at the moment. But by being proactive, being cautious, and taking appropriate remedial measures available to everyone, you can better position yourself to avoid fraud, protect your rights, and mitigate future fraud that might arise.

 This post was written by Justin L. Root Sara H. Jodka of Dickinson Wright PLLC © Copyright 2017
For more legal news go to The National Law Review

Wave of the Future or a Step Too Far? Wisconsin Company Offers Employees Microchip Implants, Employment Issues Abound

When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. . . . and the instruments through which we shall be able to do his will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket.

–Nikola Tesla, 1926

While we may now take Tesla’s connected world for granted, one cannot help but wonder what readers thought of his predictions in 1926 when he made the above statements in a magazine interview. It remains to be seen whether a similar pattern of skepticism, realization, and acceptance will eventually emerge regarding news that a vending machine company is offering its employees the opportunity to have microchips embedded in their hands to allow more convenient access to facilities, computers, and financial accounts.

The Wisconsin-based employer is reportedly the first in the United States to offer microchips (at a cost to the employer of $300 each) to employees on a voluntary basis. The microchip, roughly the size of a grain of rice, would be inserted into an employee’s hand between the thumb and forefinger, and could be used instead of a key to access buildings, log onto computers or printers, and even pay for goods in the company’s break room. It is not unlike fingerprint or other biometric technology that is becoming more widely used. In this case, however, the pertinent information is stored on the embedded microchip.

The company noted that in the future, the chip may also be able to store medical information or be used for transactions outside of the company. The chip’s technology is not, however, currently able to use GPS to track employees’ whereabouts.

Employers considering whether to implement such emerging technology may want to carefully assess whether the convenience outweighs the risks. Among the legal issues are the following:

Personal Privacy

While the company making headlines has stated that it will not use the technology to track its employees’ whereabouts (and the technology cannot currently support GPS monitoring), embedded microchips like this could create an electronic trail of the employee’s whereabouts whenever the employee is scanned to access secured locations.

Depending on where access points are installed, an employer could gain useful information, such as how long an employee spent in the break room, in the same vicinity as another employee who was allegedly harassed, or where material went missing. Further, having a record of frequent “check-ins” throughout the day as the employee accesses buildings, printers, computers, vehicles, etc. might aid in verifying time records for payroll purposes or compliance with delivery schedules and other customer expectations. This technology is already available to employers through access cards, login PINs, and other devices. The embedded chip would be another technology to use for that purpose, and it would be more difficult to trick the system with “buddy punches” and other surreptitious behavior with microchip technology. On the other hand, an employer could also theoretically confirm how long an employee spent in the restroom, at a union meeting, or complaining to human resources.

If embedded chips ever advance to the point of supporting GPS, a current body of case law regarding non-embedded GPS devices (like phones and devices installed on company vehicles) offers insights into potential legal risks. Companies use these technologies to track the whereabouts of employees, but that also gives companies information that could form the basis of a discrimination claim. For example, a company may learn that an employee is regularly at a medical clinic, which the employee might use to claim disability discrimination. Or, in Wisconsin where state law protects against discrimination based on the use or non-use of lawful products, the employer might learn that the employee spends a lot of off-duty time at the neighborhood bar, which could lead to a claim that the employee was discriminated against for using legal products while not on duty.

In addition, requiring GPS tracking of employees’ whereabouts is a mandatory subject of bargaining for unionized employees. Even for non-union employees, courts have found that employers go too far if they track employees’ whereabouts in places where employees would have a reasonable expectation of privacy (like their homes). Public employers face even greater risks in using GPS technology because courts have found that GPS technology may qualify as a search under the Fourth Amendment.

Data Privacy

Information from the chip (e.g., banking information and medical information) has value and could be the target of theft. Just as personal information could be hacked from other company databases and infrastructure, hacking may be a possibility with this new technology. Because the chip is provided by the employer, would the employer be liable for damages resulting from the misappropriation of stolen information? If an employer were negligent in implementing security protocols on the microchips, there could be litigation over the employer’s liability.

Workers’ Compensation

If an employee has a medical reaction from the implant or the procedure of implanting the chip (for example, developing an infection), there is a possibility that the medical reaction could give rise to a workers’ compensation claim because the chip was provided by the employer for work-related reasons.

Medical and Religious Accommodation

The employer in question here is not requiring employees to embed the chips, but requiring employees to do so would be difficult. Employees would likely have a right to opt out of the requirement based on medical or religious objections. It is not unlike requiring employees to get an annual flu vaccine. Some employees are medically unable and must be granted a medical accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and applicable state laws (absent an undue hardship to the employer). Others may object on religious grounds and therefore qualify for accommodations on that basis.  At least one court has supported an employee’s right to decline on religious grounds far less invasive biometric access technology.

A Look Into the Future

While the microchips currently in use appear to serve limited purposes, it is not farfetched that the technology will continue to develop and allow new uses. Employees may be comfortable with the current use, but not with future uses. Clear communication with employees as to the capabilities and uses of the chip would be essential to minimizing legal risk.

Even more practically, the technology of the chip itself may become outdated or employees might leave their employment with the company and the company would need to determine what to do with the chip already embedded into the employee. This could create medical challenges in removing the chip or controversies with the employee over who has rights to the chip itself or is obligated to pay for its removal.

While the company at issue here has not made implanting a microchip a condition of employment, social, economic, and practical influences could leave employees with little alternative. Just like the convenience of direct deposit has made paper payroll checks virtually obsolete, so too the convenience of chip technology may render physical keys, identification badges, and similar access control measures a thing of the past. Why risk losing or forgetting your identification badge when you can guarantee the necessary data is with you at all times? Financially, it seems likely that an employer could offer an incentive to employees who make use of the chip technology much like auto insurance companies offer premium reductions to those who permit tracking of their driving habits. Many employers already offer shift premiums, are chip premiums on the horizon?

Ultimately, while this developing technology may certainly provide some added convenience and may not be all that significant a departure from our society’s current reliance on mobile devices, embedding a microchip into an employee’s body takes the invasiveness of the technology and the legal ramifications one step further and requires a thoughtful weighing of the risks versus the benefits.

More legal analysis is added daily at The National Law Review.

This post was written by Keith E. Kopplin  and Sarah J. Platt of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C..

Third-Party Aspects of Cybersecurity Protections: Beyond your reach but within your control

Data privacy and cybersecurity issues are ongoing concerns for companies in today’s world.  It is nothing new to hear.  By now, every company is aware of the existence of cybersecurity threats and the need to try to protect itself.  There are almost daily reports of data breaches and/or ransomware attacks.  Companies spend substantial resources to try to ensure the security of their confidential information, as well as the personal and confidential information of their customers, employees and business partners.  As part of those efforts, companies are faced with managing and understanding their various legal and regulatory obligations governing the protection, disclosure and/or sharing of data – depending on their specific industry and the type of data they handle – as well as meeting the expectations of their customers to avoid reputational harm.

Despite the many steps involved in developing wide-ranging cybersecurity protocols – such as establishing a security incident response plan, designating someone to be responsible for cybersecurity and data privacy, training and retraining employees, and requiring passwords to be changed regularly – it is not enough merely to manage risks internal to the company.  Companies are subject to third-party factors not within their immediate control, in particular vendors and employee BYOD (Bring Your Own Device).  If those cybersecurity challenges are not afforded sufficient oversight, they will expose a company to significant risks that will undo all of the company’s hard work trying to secure and defend its data from unauthorized disclosures or cyberattacks.  Although companies may afford some consideration to vendor management and BYOD policies, absent rigorous follow up, a company may too easily leave a gaping hole in its cybersecurity protections.

VENDORS

To accomplish business functions and objectives and to improve services, companies regularly rely on third-party service providers and vendors.  To that end, vendors may get access to and get control over confidential or personal information to perform the contracted services.  That information may belong to the company, employees of the company, the clients of the company and/or business partners of the company.

When information is placed into the hands of a vendor and/or onto its computer systems, stored in its facilities, or handled by its employees or business partners, the information is subject to unknown risks based on what could happen to the information while with the third-party.  The possibility of a security breach or the unauthorized use or access to the information still exists but a company cannot be sure what the vendor will do to protect against or address those dangers if they arise.  A company cannot rely on its vendors to maintain necessary security protocols and instead must be vigilant by exercising reasonable due diligence over its vendors and instituting appropriate protections.  To achieve this task, a company needs to consider the type of information involved, the level of protection required, the risks at issue and how those risks can be managed and mitigated.

Due Diligence

A company must perform due diligence over the vendor and the services to be provided and should consider, among other things, supplying a questionnaire to the vendor to answer a host of cybersecurity related questions including:

> What services will the vendor provide?  Gain an understanding of the services being provided by the vendor, including whether the vendor only gains access to, or actually takes possession of, any information.  There is an important difference between a vendor (i) having access to a company’s network to implement a third-party solution or provide a thirdparty service and (ii) taking possession of and/or storing information on its network or even the network of its own third-party vendors.

> Who will have access to the information?  A company should know who at the vendor will have access to the information.  Which employees?  Will the vendor need assistance from other third-parties to provide the contracted-for services?  Does the vendor perform background checks of its employees?  Do protocols exist to prevent employees who are not authorized from having access to the information?

> What security controls does the vendor have in place?  A company should review the vendor’s controls and procedures to make sure they comply not only with applicable legal and regulatory requirements but also with the company’s own standards.  Does the vendor have the financial wherewithal to manage cybersecurity risks?  Does the vendor have cybersecurity insurance?  Does the vendor have a security incident response plan?  To what extent has the vendor trained with or used the plan?  Has the vendor suffered a cyberattack?  If so, it actually may be a good thing depending on how the vendor responded to the attack and what, if anything, it did to improve its security following the attack.  What training is in place for the vendor’s employees?  How is the vendor monitoring itself to ensure compliance with its own procedures?

The Contract

A company should seek to include strong contractual language to obligate the vendor to exercise its own cybersecurity management and to cooperate with the company to ensure protection of the company’s data.  There are multiple provisions to consider when engaging vendors and drafting or updating contracts to afford the company appropriate protections.  A one-size-fits-all approach for vendors will not work and clauses will need to be modified to take account of, among other things:

 > The sensitivity of the information at issue – Does the information include only strictly confidential information, such as trade secrets or news of a potential merger?  Does the information include personal information, such as names, signatures, addresses, email addresses, or telephone numbers?  Does the information include what is considered more highly sensitive personal information, such as SSNs, financial account information, credit card information, tax information, or medical data?

> The standard of care and obligations for the treatment of information – A company should want its vendors to meet the same standards the company demands of itself.  Vendors should be required to acknowledge that they will have access to or will take possession of information and that they will use reasonable care to perform their services, including the collection, access, use, storage, disposal, transmission and disclosure of information, as applicable.  This can, and often should, include: limiting access to only necessary employees; securing business facilities, data centers, paper files, servers and back-up systems; implementing database security protocols, including authentication and access controls; encrypting highly sensitive personal information; and providing privacy security training to employees.  Contracts also should provide that vendors are responsible for any unauthorized receipt, transmission, storage, disposal, use, or disclosure of information, including the actions and/or omissions of their employees and/or relevant third-parties who the vendors retain.

> Expectations in the event of a security breach at the company – A company should include a provision requiring a vendor’s reasonable cooperation if the company experiences a breach.  A company should have a contact at each of its vendors, who is available 24/7 to help resolve a security breach.  Compliance with a company’s own obligations to deal with a breach (including notification or remediation) could be delayed if a vendor refuses to timely provide necessary information or copies of relevant documents.  A company also can negotiate to include an indemnification provision requiring a vendor to reimburse the company for reasonable costs incurred in responding to and mitigating damages caused by any security breach related to the work performed by the vendor.

> Expectations in the event of a security breach at the vendor – A company should demand reasonable notification if the vendor experiences a security breach and require the vendor to take reasonable steps and use best efforts to remediate the breach and to try to prevent future breaches.  A company should negotiate for a provision permitting the company to audit the vendor’s security procedures and perhaps even to physically inspect the vendor’s servers and data storage facilities if the data at issue is particularly sensitive.

Monitoring

Due diligence and contractual provisions are necessary steps in managing the cybersecurity risks that a vendor presents, but absent consistent and proactive monitoring of the vendor relationship, including periodic audits and updates to vendor contracts, all prior efforts to protect the company in this respect will be undermined.  Determining who within the company is responsible for the relationship  – HR? Procurement? Legal? – is critical to help manage the vendor relationship.

> Schedule annual or semi-annual reviews of the vendor relationship –  A company not only should confirm that the vendor is following its cybersecurity protocols but also should inquire if any material changes to those protocols have been instituted that impact the manner in which the vendor handles the company’s data.  Depending on the level of sensitivity of the data being handled by the vendor, a company may consider retaining a third-party reviewer to evaluate the vendor.

> Update the vendor contract, as necessary – A company employee should be responsible to review vendor contracts annually to determine if any changes are necessary in view of cybersecurity concerns.

BYOD

Ransomware – where a hacker demands a ransom to unencrypt a company’s data caused by malicious software that the hacker deposited onto the company’s network to hold it hostage – certainly is a heightened concern for all companies.  It is the fastest growing malware targeting all industries, with more than 50% growth in recent years.  Every company is wary of ransomware and is trying to do as much as possible to protect itself from hackers.  The best practices against ransomware are to (i) periodically train and retrain your employees to be on the lookout for ransomware; (ii) constantly backup you data systems; and (iii) split up the locations where data is maintained to limit the damage in the event some servers fall victim to ransomware.  One thing that easily is overlooked, however, or is afforded more limited consideration, is a company’s BYOD policy and enforcement of that policy.

Permitting a company’s employees to use their own personal electronic devices to work remotely will lower overhead costs and improve efficiency but will bring a host of security and compliance concerns.  The cybersecurity and privacy protocols that the company established and vigorously pursues inside the company must also be followed by its employees when using their personal devices – home computers, tablets, smartphones – outside the company.  Employees likely are more interested, however, in the ease of access to work remotely than in ensuring that proper cybersecurity measures are followed with respect to their personal devices.  Are the employees using sophisticated passwords on their personal devices or any passwords at all?  Do the employees’ personal devices have automatic locks?  Are the employees using the most current software and installing security updates?

These concerns are real.  In May of 2017, the Wannacry ransomware attack infected more than 200,000 computers in over 100 countries, incapacitating companies and hospitals.  Hackers took advantage of the failure to install a patch to Microsoft Windows, which Microsoft had issued weeks earlier.  Even worse, it was discovered that some infected computers were using outdated versions of Microsoft Windows for which the patch would not have worked regardless.  Companies cannot risk pouring significant resources into establishing a comprehensive security program only to suffer a ransomware attack or otherwise to have its efforts undercut by an employee working remotely who failed to install appropriate security protocols on his/her personal devices.

The dangers to be wary of include, among others: > Personal devices may not automatically lock or have a timeout function. > Employees may not use sophisticated passwords to protect their personal devices. > Employees may use unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots to access the company’s systems, subjecting the company to heightened risk. > Employees may access the company’s systems using outdated software that is vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Combatting the Dangers

To address the added risks that accompany allowing BYOD, a company must develop, disseminate and institute a comprehensive BYOD policy.  That policy should identify the necessary security protocols that the employee must follow to use a personal device to work remotely, including, among other things:

 > Sophisticated passwords

> Automatic locks

> Encryption of data

> Installation of updated software and security apps

> Remote access from secure WiFi only

> Reporting procedures for lost/stolen devices

A company also should use mobile device management technology to permit the company to remotely access the personal devices of its employees to install any necessary software updates or to limit access to company systems.  Of course, the employee must be given notice that the company may use such technology and the capabilities of that technology.  Among other things, mobile device management technology can:

> Create a virtual partition separating work data and personal data

> Limit an employee’s access to work data

> Allow a company to push security updates onto an employee’s personal device

Enforcement

Similar to vendor management, the cybersecurity efforts undertaken by having a robust BYOD policy in place, or even using mobile management technology, are significantly weakened unless a company enforces the policy it has instituted.

> A BYOD policy should be a prominent part of any employee cybersecurity training.

> The company should inform the employee of the company’s right to access/monitor/delete information from an employee’s personal device in the event of, among other things, litigation and e-discovery requests, internal investigations, or the employee’s termination.

CONCLUSION

Implementing the above recommendations will not guarantee a company will not suffer a breach but will stem the threats created by third-party aspects of its cybersecurity program.  Even if a company ultimately suffers a breach, having had these protections in place to administer the risks associated with vendor management and BYOD certainly will help safeguard the company from the scrutiny of regulators or the criticism of their customers, which would be worse!

This post was written byJoseph B. Shumofsky of  Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.
More legal analysis at The National Law Review.

Weapons in the Cyber Defense Arsenal

In May 2017, the world experienced an unprecedented global cyberattack that targeted the public and private sectors, including an auto factory in France, dozens of hospitals and health care facilities in the United Kingdom, gas stations in China and banks in Russia. This is just the tip of the iceberg and more attacks are certain to follow. As this experience shows, companies of all sizes, across all industries, in every country are vulnerable to cyberattacks that can have devastating consequences for their businesses and operations.

The Malware Families

Exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft® software, hackers launched a widespread ransomware attack targeting hundreds of thousands of companies worldwide. The vector, “WannaCry” malware, encrypts electronic files and locks them until released by the hacker after a ransom is paid in untraceable Bitcoin. The malware also has the ability to spread to all other computer systems on a network. On the heels of WannaCry, a new attack called “Adylkuzz” is crippling computers by diverting their processing power.

The most prevalent types of ransomware found in 2016 were Cerber and Locky. Microsoft detected Cerber, used in spam campaigns, in more than 600,000 computers and observed that it was one of the most profitable of 2016. Spread via malicious spam emails that have an executable virus file, Cerber has gained increasing popularity due to its Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) business model, which enables less sophisticated hackers to lease the malware.

data security privacy FCC cybersecurityCheck Point Software indicated that Locky was the second most prevalent piece of malware worldwide in November 2016.  Microsoft detected Locky in more than 500,000 computers in 2016. First discovered in February 2016, Locky is typically delivered via an email attachment (including Microsoft Office documents and compressed attachments) in phishing campaigns designed to entice unsuspecting individuals to click on the attachment. Of course, as the most recent global attacks demonstrate, hackers are devising and deploying new variants of ransomware with different capabilities all the time.

The Rise of Ransomware Attacks

The rise in ransomware attacks is directly related to the ease with which it is deployed and the quick return for the attackers. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that there was an average of more than 4,000 ransomware attacks daily in 2016, a 300 percent increase over the prior year. Some experts believe that ransomware may be one of the most profitable cybercrime tactics in history, earning approximately $1 billion in 2016. Worse yet, even with the ransom paid, some data already may have been compromised or may never be recovered.

The risk is even greater if your ransom-encrypted data contains protected health information (PHI). In July 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Civil Rights (HHS/OCR) advised that the encryption or permanent loss of PHI would trigger HIPAA’s Breach Notification Rule for the affected population, unless a low probability that the recovered PHI had been compromised could be demonstrated. This means a mandated investigation to confirm the likelihood that the PHI was not accessed or otherwise compromised.

Ransomware Statistics

According to security products and solutions provider Symantec Corporation, ransomware was the most dangerous cybercrime threat facing consumers and businesses in 2016:

  • The majority of 2016 ransomware infections happened in consumer computers, at 69 percent, with enterprises at 31 percent.

  • The average ransom demanded in 2016 rose to $1,077, up from $294 in 2015.

  • There was a 36 percent increase in ransomware infections from 340,665 in 2015 to 463,841 in 2016.

  • The number of ransomware “families” found totaled 101 in 2016, triple the 30 found in 2015.

  • The biggest event of 2016 was the beginning of RaaS, or the development of malware packages that can be sold to attackers in return for a percentage of the profits.

  • Since January 1, 2016, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred − a 300 percent increase over the 1,000 daily attacks seen in 2015.

  • In the second half of 2016, the percentage of recognized ransomware attacks from all malware attacks globally doubled from 5.5 percent to 10.5 percent.

The Best Defense Is a Good Offense

While no perfectly secure computer system exists, companies can take precautionary measures to increase their preparedness and reduce their exposure to potentially crippling cyberattacks. While Microsoft no longer supports Windows XP operating systems, which were hit the hardest by WannaCry, Microsoft has made an emergency patch available to protect against WannaCry. However, those still using Windows XP should upgrade all devices to a more current operating system that is still fully supported by Microsoft to ensure protection against emerging threats. Currently, that means upgrading to Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10.

Even current, supported software needs to be updated when prompted by the computer. Those who delay installing updates may find themselves at risk. Microsoft issued a patch for supported operating systems in March 2017 to protect against the vulnerability that WannaCry exploited. Needless to say, many companies did not bother to patch their systems in a timely manner.

Ransomware creates even greater business disruption when a company does not have secure backups of files that are critical to key business functions and operations. It also is important for companies to back up files frequently, because a stale backup that is several months old or older may not be particularly useful. Companies also should make certain that their antivirus and anti-malware software is current to protect against emerging threats.

In addition, companies need to train their employees on detecting and mitigating potential cyber threats. Employees are frequently a company’s first line of defense against many forms of routine cyberattacks that originate from seemingly innocuous emails, attachments and links from unknown sources. Indeed, many cyberattacks can be avoided if employees are simply trained not to click on suspicious links or attachments that could surreptitiously install malware.

Last but not least, companies should consider purchasing cyber liability insurance coverage, which is readily available. While cyber policies are still evolving and there are no standardized policy forms, coverage can be purchased at varying price points with different levels of coverage. Some of the more comprehensive forms of coverage provide additional “bells and whistles” such as immediate access to preapproved professionals that can guide companies through the legal and technical web of cybersecurity events and incident response.

Other cyber policies afford bundled coverages that may include:

  • The costs of a forensics investigation to identify the source and scope of an incident

  • Notification to affected individuals

  • Remediation in the form of credit monitoring and identity theft restoration services

  • Costs to restore lost, stolen or corrupted data and computer equipment

  • Defense of third-party claims and regulatory investigations arising out of a cyberattack.

 

This post was written by Anjali C. Das, Kevin M. Scott and John Busch of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP.data security privacy FCC cybersecurity

Health Care Task Force Pre-Releases Report on Cybersecurity Days Before Ransomware Attack

Last week, the Health Care Industry Cybersecurity (HCIC) Task Force (the “Task Force”) published a pre-release copy of its report on improving cybersecurity in the health care industry.  The Task Force was established by Congress under the Cybersecurity Act of 2015.  The Task Force is charged with addressing challenges in the health care industry “when securing and protecting itself against cybersecurity incidents, whether intentional or unintentional.”

The Task Force released its report mere days before the first worldwide ransomware attack, commonly referred to as “WannaCry,” which occurred on May 12.  The malware is thought to have infected more than 300,000 computers in 150 jurisdictions to date.  In the aftermath of the attack, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) sent a series of emails to the health care sector, including a statement that government officials had “received anecdotal notices of medical device ransomware infection.”  HHS warned that the health care sector should particularly focus on devices that connect to the Internet, run on Windows XP, or have not been recently patched.  As in-house counsels understand, the ransomware attack raises a host of legal issues.

Timely, the HCIC report calls cybersecurity a “key public health concern that needs immediate and aggressive attention.”  The Task Force identifies six high-level imperatives, and for each imperative, offers several recommendations.

The imperatives are as follows:

  1. Define and streamline leadership, governance, and expectations for health care industry cybersecurity.

  2. Increase the security and resilience of medical devices and health IT.

  3. Develop the health care workforce capacity necessary to prioritize and ensure cybersecurity awareness and technical capabilities.

  4. Increase health care industry readiness through improved cybersecurity awareness and education.

  5. Identify mechanisms to protect research and development efforts and intellectual property from attacks or exposure.

  6. Improve information sharing of industry threats, weaknesses, and mitigations.

With respect to medical devices (imperative #2), the Task Force specifically advocates for greater transparency regarding third party software components.  The report encourages manufacturers and developers to create a “bill of materials” that describes its components, as well as known risks to those components, to enable health care delivery organizations to move quickly to determine if their medical devices are vulnerable.  Furthermore, the Task Force writes that product vendors should be transparent about their ability to provide IT support during the lifecycle of a medical device product.  The Task Force also recommends that health care organizations ensure that their systems, policies, and processes account for the implementation of available updates and IT support for medical devices, such as providing patches for discovered vulnerabilities.  The report suggests that government and industry “develop incentive recommendations to phase-out legacy and insecure health care technologies.”

The Task Force also encourages medical device manufacturers to implement “security by design,” including by making greater security risk management a priority throughout the product lifecycle, such as through adding greater testing or certification. In addition, the report encourages both developers and users to take actions that improve security access to information stored on devices, such as through multi-factor authentication.  The Task Force recommends that government agencies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at HHS, consider using existing authorities to “catalyze and reinforce activities and action items” associated with this recommendation.  This includes leveraging existing government guidance and industry standards, like FDA’s premarket and postmarket cybersecurity guidance documents.  Published in 2014 and 2016, these documents recommend that “manufacturers should monitor, identify, and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities and exploits as part of the [secure development lifecycle].”  We have previously discussed these guidance documents here and here.

Finally, the Task Force recommends that the health care industry take a “long-range approach” to considering “viability, effectiveness, security, and maintainability of” medical devices. The Task Force states that each product should have a defined strategy and design that supports cybersecurity during each stage of the product’s lifecycle.  In particular, the Task Force encourages HHS to evaluate existing authorities to conduct cybersecurity surveillance of medical devices.

This post was written by Dena Feldman and Christopher Hanson of Covington & Burling LLP.

Yesterday, #WannaCry. Today, #DocuSignPhish

Another day, another data incident.  If you use DocuSign, you’ll want to pay attention.

The provider of e-signature technology has acknowledged a data breach incident in which an unauthorized third party gained access to the email addresses of DocuSign users.   Those email addresses have now been used to launch a massive spam campaign.   By using the stolen email address database and sending “official” looking emails, cyber criminals are hoping that recipients will be more likely to click on and open the malicious links and attachments.

DocuSign’s alert to users says in part:

[A]s part of our ongoing investigation, today we confirmed that a malicious third party had gained temporary access to a separate, non-core system that allows us to communicate service-related announcements to users via email. A complete forensic analysis has confirmed that only email addresses were accessed; no names, physical addresses, passwords, social security numbers, credit card data or other information was accessed. No content or any customer documents sent through DocuSign’s eSignature system was accessed; and DocuSign’s core eSignature service, envelopes and customer documents and data remain secure.

A portion of the phish in the malicious campaign looks like this:

Two phishing campaigns already detected and more likely

The DocuSign Trust Center has posted alerts notifying users of two large phishing campaigns launched on May 9 and again on May 15.

The company is now advising customers NOT TO OPEN emails with the following subject lines, used in the two spam campaigns.

  • Completed: [domain name]  – Wire transfer for recipient-name Document Ready for Signature

  • Completed [domain name/email address] – Accounting Invoice [Number] Document Ready for Signature

We recommend that you change your DocuSign password in light of this incident as an extra measure of caution.  Also, DocuSign (and other similar services) offer two-factor authentication, and we strongly recommend that you take advantage of this extra security measure.

As always, think before you click.