Innovation - Idea - Light Bulb -92265641The IoT, or Internet of Things, connects physical devices containing software, sensors, and/or network connectivity and includes anything and everything from wearable technologies, to drones, to driverless cars. Madison Partner Mindi Giftos explains the business and legal ramifications of this technology in a piece published in In Business Madison magazine online this month.

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Sharing informationThe Cybersecurity Act of 2015, signed into law on Dec. 18, has four titles that address longstanding concerns about cybersecurity in the United States, such as cybersecurity workforce shortages, infrastructure security, and gaps in business knowledge related to cybersecurity. This post distills the risks and highlights the benefits for private entities that may seek to take advantage of Title I of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 – the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (“CISA”).

It’s been clear for many years that greater information-sharing between companies and with the government would help fight cyber threats. The barriers to such sharing have been (1) liability exposure for companies that collect and share such information, which can include personally identifiable information, and (2) institutional and educational impediments to analyzing and sharing information effectively.

CISA is designed to remove both of these information-sharing barriers. First, CISA provides immunity to companies that share “cyber threat indicators and defensive measures” with the federal government in a CISA-authorized manner. Second, CISA authorizes, for a “cybersecurity purpose,” both use and sharing of defensive measures and monitoring of information systems. CISA also mandates that federal agencies establish privacy protections for shared information and publish procedures and guidelines to help companies identify and share cyber threat information. Notably, companies are not required to share information in order to receive information on “threat indicators and defensive measures,” nor are entities required to act upon information received – but this won’t shield companies from ordinary ‘failure to act’ negligence claims. Continue Reading What’s new with the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act?

santaiStock_000017337503_LargeFor those who observe it, the Christmas season (secular version 2.0) is definitely here. As a child, I cherished the thought of a man with a red suit accessing our house through the chimney. For those of us concerned about computer system security, we worry about a person with a black hat accessing our data through phishing, hacking, and malware. I hate to mention, well, you know who, but someone out there loves the thought of taking your Whoville roast beast.

Enjoy the next few days with your family and friends, but remember, it’s also time to consider your data security for 2016. Knowing you, once you’ve opened all the presents, eaten dinner, and just settled down for a moment of quiet sanity, your thoughts will inevitably turn to the new year. So, here are six holiday-themed recommendations for your consideration. If you don’t recognize the quotes below, that means you didn’t spend your childhood binge-watching classic holiday programs. Not a worry – simply unwrap the answer key at the bottom. Continue Reading I’m making a list, securing it twice…

plumberiStock_000045982828_LargeWhile data breaches have become a common occurrence, the epic breach of the Office of Personal Management (“OPM”) records stands out for many reasons. The hackers obtained PII on at least 21.5 million people and accessed highly confidential background check and security clearance information, including personal details such as fingerprint data and financial history. But what is most shocking is that the federal government was aware of security flaws within OPM’s computer system for years before the breach, yet never addressed those vulnerabilities. Continue Reading Failing to fix is fixing to fail (or get hacked)

bored-maniStock_000012493520_LargeWhile advising the board of directors of a company to pay close attention to data security issues is akin to your dentist telling you to floss, the stakes are too high for a board to ignore. The board of any company must constantly monitor and assess its company’s data security procedures and potential risks. Although there is no strategy to prevent a security breach, each member of a board must exercise its fiduciary duty to consider the risks to a company. To the credit of many companies in the last several years, the assessment of data security risks has achieved a more pronounced position. Continue Reading Board to Tears: Director oversight of data security issues

baseballiStock_000060716458_LargeYogi Berra will be missed, but his wisdom will endure. Who else could have observed “No one goes there nowadays. It’s too crowded”? The information governance equivalent is “No one has information anymore. There’s too much of it.” In the last decade we have witnessed the systemic utilitization of computing power. Data used to be housed predominantly within a company’s own systems, but now, through remote storage, SaaS, PaaS, and other cloud solutions, more and more information is hosted by third-party providers. Also, as marketplace forces compel organizations to leverage or outsource functions that used to reside internally, operational service providers increasingly create, receive, maintain, and process information on the organization’s behalf.

It follows that information governance (the organization’s approach to satisfying information compliance and controlling information risk while maximizing information value) can no longer simply be an internally-focused exercise. IG “has come to a fork in the road, and must take it.” Service provider selection, contracting, and oversight are now primary vehicles of information governance – because when it comes to governing your organization’s information, “the future ain’t what it used to be.” Continue Reading 90% of information governance is half contracting

Hacker at workAt DEF CON you’ll often hear that “every company is receiving penetration testing, but some companies pay for the pleasure.” My take is that every company pays for penetration testing – some companies pay in planned expenditures, but others pay in response costs, reputation loss, business interruption, legal liability, and increased insurance premiums. Or as Claus Moser observed, “Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.”

Last week’s DEF CON post shared insights from DEF CON 23 presenters on the fast-moving threat environment. Below are post-DEF CON observations on strengthening an organization’s cyber risk management strategy. Continue Reading DEF CON 23—Part II: cyber risk management strategy

Hacker at workFaces lit by computers, the hackers’ objectives were clear — attack and defend. At this year’s DEF CON, the largest hacker convention in the United States, pre-qualified teams of hackers from around the globe faced-off in a network-security simulation that combined network sniffing, cryptanalysis, programming, reverse-engineering, and other tactics that would make Lisbeth Salander blush. Back in 1993, the first DEF CON had roughly 100 participants. This year, badges dangled from the necks of nearly 20,000 attendees, including hackers, lawyers, academics, journalists, and government officials.

DEF CON has an edgy narrative — it’s notorious for criminal exploits, wild parties, and Mohawk-fitted outcasts. But that story line is much too simple. And “too simple” is what security researchers—or hackers, depending on your sensibilities—proclaim after they expose the vulnerabilities in products and infrastructure we rely on daily.

Below are highlights and insights from presentations at DEF CON 23 that illustrate the evolving cyber risks and policy dilemmas facing governments, individuals, and the private sector. Continue Reading DEF CON 23—Part I: Hackers highlight evolving cyber threats

wagoniStock_000063135639_LargeDo you often feel that despite best efforts to circle the wagons your information security team is fighting a losing battle with broken down tools? Even though information security budgets have increased in the last couple of years—likely in response to the very visible increase in high-profile data breaches—discretionary budget dollars are scarce. I recently heard the poker term “dead money”  used to describe that large portion of every IT budget that has been committed long before it is received, much like the money we all must dedicate to mortgages, utilities, food, and transportation. Thus, for every $100 of total IT spend, we may be left with just $0.60 for new baubles and geegaws, as my grandmother used to say. Continue Reading Broke, bothered, and beleagured

flower-illustrationiStock_000018468303_LargeIt’s tempting to “gild the lily” when applying for cyber insurance. Insurers are still getting their arms around how to underwrite cyber risks, and so applications commonly feature a lengthy questionnaire about security controls and safeguards. Often folks in the insured’s Finance or Risk departments handle the application process, with minimal involvement by IT Security and Legal. The result can be questionnaire responses that are, well, “aspirational.”

The problem is that the insured’s representations in the application usually become part of the policy, with coverage conditioned on the representations being accurate when made, and also on an ongoing basis. If the questionnaire responses are later deemed to be material misrepresentations, or if what was represented changes materially, then coverage may be lost. With cyber insurance applications, gilding the lily can result in gelding of coverage. Continue Reading Gilding, gelding, & cyber insurance applications