Electronic Data Security

Austin, Texas, downtown skyline at sunsetThe American Bar Association is holding its upcoming 2018 Business Law Section Annual Meeting at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, TX, from September 13 to 15.

Fox partner Matt Kittay will moderate a panel entitled “Lawyer Ethical Issues in M&A Technology.” Featuring Haley Altman of Doxly, Steve Obenski of Kira Systems, and James Walker of Richards Kibbe & Orbe. The group will discuss ethical issues facing lawyers who use both emerging and globally accepted technology platforms to execute M&A and private equity transactions. The panel will take place on Friday, September 14 from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM at the Technology in M&A Subcommittee Meeting of the Mergers & Acquisitions Committee. The Fairmont Hotel connected to the Convention Center will host the panel.

For more information and to register to attend the section’s Annual Meeting, please visit the ABA website.

Office copiers retain data on the files they process – securing that data is a must.

Digital copiers pose many of the same cybersecurity risks associated with computers. This is so because theyre also computers. Data thieves know that office copiers run on “smart” technology with hard drives that store information about printed, copied and scanned documents – a potential trove of sensitive data.

 What steps should businesses take to protect the data across a copier’s lifecycle?

 The Federal Trade Commission provides guidance online in Digital Copier Data Security: A Guide for Businesses. The guide details the process from integrating a copier into your company’s information security policies and offers best practices for printing to securing the hard drive after the device has run its course.

Manufacturers can also tell you about the security features of their copiers, which may include:

  • Encryption software that scrambles hard drive data, making it difficult to extract
  • Overwriting functionality that digitally changes data values so files can’t be reconstructed
  • Locking a hard drive via passcode

The FTC’s point is clear: businesses of all kinds are legally responsible for the information stored on digital copiers. In fact, institutions handling personal financial or health care information are required to have security plans for the information processed on digital copiers.

Data-rich companies like Facebook have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the recent surge in regulatory scrutiny and turn it to their advantage.

Savvy tech companies are attuned to public opinion and won’t allow others to control the narrative. They are already taking steps to regain the upper hand in the privacy debate.

Facebook demonstrated this during Senate hearings on the Cambridge Analytica “data breach” by announcing it would upgrade privacy features and offer its users protections that mirror those in the EU’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Facebook has also gone out of its way to publicize its efforts to comply with GDPR. Messaging service WhatsApp, too, recently touted its decision to set a minimum age of 16 for EU users.

Some of the major tech companies – Facebook, Google and Apple – could actually benefit from increased data privacy and security regulation if they take the initiative. They have the resources to impose strict compliance requirements on smaller third-party players such as application developers and vendors in the tech eco-system, portraying themselves as trusted custodians of consumer data.

To gain the advantage, they will need to be proactive because regulators are not sitting back.

Officials at all levels of government are clamoring to get a piece of the data privacy enforcement pie. The SEC recently imposed a first-of-its-kind $35 million fine on Altaba Inc., formerly Yahoo, for failing to disclose a major data breach. The FTC struck a first-of-its-type 20-year consent decree that requires Uber Technologies Inc. to report any future data breach regardless of whether it involves harm to consumers. States are also getting into the act. Arizona and Delaware recently joined the list of states that have toughened their breach notification laws, while attorneys general have stepped up enforcement activities in Massachusetts (Equifax), New York (Facebook), Pennsylvania (Uber) and other states.

Data is the new currency. As a result, antitrust regulators have stepped up scrutiny of M&A deals in relation to the aggregation and control of data. This has already affected proposed deals. The EU halted Apple’s proposed acquisition of Shazam over possible adverse effects on other music streaming services.

In this climate, it is no time for major tech companies to lay low. The smarter path – the one that will allow them to regain the initiative – is taking proactive steps to address privacy and data security concerns before regulators do it for them.

Data privacy and security
Many company leaders appear to understand and recognize cyber threats, but far too few have implemented vital defenses.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, we spearheaded a sweeping, cross-industry survey of chief executives to gauge corporate cybersecurity preparedness. The results revealed important organizational issues.

The survey showed C-suite corporate leaders know their companies’ data is at risk but are not taking adequate measures to protect that data.

  • Awareness: More than half of C-level officers recognized their companies were at high or very high risk of a data breach. Three quarters said they had been hit recently by phishing attacks.
  • Inaction: Despite that, 53 percent of executives admitted their cybersecurity and data privacy budgets are insufficient to respond to a breach. Nearly a third don’t train all their employees on data breach prevention, a basic component of cybersecurity.

“Cyberattacks are growing in frequency and severity,” said Mark McCreary, Fox’s Chief Privacy Officer and co-chair of its Privacy and Data Security Practice. “Companies should take steps to manage that risk and prevent breaches, but it requires a clear-eyed, systematic approach.”

Survey findings offer big-picture takeaways to bolster a company’s approach to cyber threats and their prevention. The report examines five key areas of cybersecurity readiness:

  • Breach response plans
  • Budget priorities
  • Cyber liability policies
  • Determining risk severity
  • Training effectiveness

How does your organization compare? Read the full report.

 

Recent news that Facebook has suspended research firm Cambridge Analytica for improperly collecting users’ personal data without their knowledge may not constitute a classic “data breach,” but it poses real risks for the popular social media platform.

Fox Rothschild Partner Scott Vernick, founder of the firm’s Privacy & Data Security Practice, discussed the implications for Facebook, and the next steps the company should take, in an interview with the TD Ameritrade Network.

“Consumers do select companies and want to do business with companies that have control over their data and that can secure their data,” Scott said. “In turn, If you lose consumer confidence, you lose advertiser confidence, so that is the challenge for Facebook.”

View the full interview here.

Restaurant businesses deal with a large amount of personal data.

The National Restaurant Association released a must-read guide for restaurant operators on how to increase their cybersecurity efforts.

Franchising, Licensing & Distribution partner Eleanor Vaida Gerhards explains on the Franchise Law Update blog how the guide takes the cybersecurity framework prepared by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and adapts it for use in the restaurant hospitality industry.

Because restaurants have to handle the personal information of their customers, they’re constantly at risk for data compromises that carry heavy fines.

Even the most cyber savvy restaurant systems should find the guide full of useful information. Access the guide and read Eleanor’s full post here.

The cost of cybercrime continues to rise, driven by increasingly sophisticated cybercriminals and a growing pool of new and often unsophisticated internet users, according to a new report from internet security firm McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Cybercrime is relentless, undiminished, and unlikely to stop. It is just too easy and too
rewarding, and the chances of being caught and punished are perceived as being too low,” the report states.

The report, “Economic Impact of Cybercrime—No Slowing Down,” estimates cybercrime costs the global economy $600 billion a year, or 0.8 percent of global GDP, up from $500 billion in 2014.

It lists five trends that are most responsible for the increase:

  • Cybercriminals adopting new technologies.
  • Growth in new internet users, often from countries with weak cybersecurity.
  • The rise and growth of Cybercrime-as-a-Service.
  • Growth in cybercrime “centers” such as Brazil, India, North Korea, and Vietnam.
  • Improved black markets and digital currencies facilitating monetization of stolen data.

Security magazine also published a summary of the report.

Europe map with padlock symbolizing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)With the European’s Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR) taking effect in less than 100 days, the interest of many U.S. Companies has been piqued as to how the GDPR may affect their overseas and internet-based businesses.  This article on CFO.com, “Why GDPR Matters,” which I co-authored with Bill Shipp from Vaxient, LLC and Jonathan Marks, CPA from Marcum, LLP, tackles this hot issue and answers why GDPR should matter to U.S. companies in a wide variety of industries.

To assist U.S.-based companies in determining how GDPR may affect their business, Fox Rothschild has also developed a GDPR mobile app called “GDPR Check” (details and download information here).  The app is designed to help companies determine which areas of their business (if any) may require GDPR compliance.

If you have any questions about how GDPR may affect your company, we encourage you to consult a knowledgeable attorney and experienced professionals.

Username and password login fields, online security
Usernames and passwords were exposed in a number of reported data breaches.

According to the monthly report from the Identity Theft Resource Center, the health care industry suffered more data breaches in January than government, educational and financial sectors combined.

Medical and health care-related data breaches accounted for 26.7 percent of the verified 116 data breaches in early 2018. The report defines a breach as a cybersecurity incident in which personal information such as emails, medical records, Social Security numbers or driver’s license information, is exposed and made vulnerable to risk.

While the report identifies “Business” as the sector most affected by data breaches, the category broadly encompasses many types of major service providers in retail, hospitality, trade, transportation and other industries.

For more detailed statistics of data breaches by industry, download the ITRC report.

The U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is out with its first Semiannual Risk Perspective report under Trump appointee Joseph Otting.

It’s not terribly rosy from a cybersecurity perspective, reports Bloomberg News.

The Comptroller’s office singled out cyberattacks as an increasing risk: “U.S. Banks are facing a growing threat from cyberattackers and making defense against them more complex by relying on third-party firms for support,” Bloomberg reports.

In addition, banks are facing attacks from hackers that exploit weaknesses in clients’ security, the report says. Click here to read the full text of the Semiannual Risk Perspective. The section on cybersecurity is on pages 14 and 15.