On May 15, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13873 (“E.O. 13873”) and declared a national emergency in response to increasing actions by “foreign adversaries” to create and exploit “vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services” supplied to the U.S.  E.O. 13873 broadly prohibits persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction from engaging in information and communications technology or services transactions with “foreign adversaries” that: (i) pose undue sabotage or subversion risks to U.S. information and communications technology or services, (ii) pose an undue risk to critical U.S. infrastructure or the U.S. digital economy, or (iii) otherwise pose an unacceptable risk to U.S. national security.  Within one hundred fifty (150) days of E.O. 13873, the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with other executive agencies, will issue formal rules or regulations which will identify the specific “foreign adversaries” who are subject to E.O. 13873’s prohibitions, establish criteria for determining the types of transactions that are prohibited by E.O. 13873 and establish procedures for obtaining licensing to conduct transactions that would otherwise be prohibited by E.O. 13873 and its associated rules and regulations.

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city-namesiStock_000049719310_LargeYour business is an international company selling products to U.S. consumers. In the last few years, you may have heard a lot about high-profile information privacy and security cases brought by the U.S. government. Should you be concerned? Most definitely.

On Feb. 23, 2016, the FTC announced that Taiwan-based computer hardware maker ASUSTeK Computers, Inc. (“ASUS”) agreed to a 20-year consent order, resolving claims that it engaged in unfair and deceptive practices in connection with routers it sold to U.S. consumers. According to the FTC’s complaint, ASUS failed to take reasonable steps to secure the software for its routers, which it offered to consumers specifically for protecting their local networks and accessing their sensitive personal information. The FTC alleged that ASUS’s router firmware and admin console were susceptible to a number of “well-known and reasonably foreseeable vulnerabilities”; that its cloud applications included multiple vulnerabilities that would allow cyber attackers to gain easy, unauthorized access to consumers’ files and router login credentials; and that the application encouraged consumers to choose weak login credentials. By failing to take reasonable actions to remedy these issues, ASUS subjected its customers to a significant risk that their sensitive personal information and local networks would be subject to unauthorized access.
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John WayneAll encryption tools are not created equal. Just ask the folks at Microsoft, who have recently demonstrated that encrypted Electronic Medical Record databases can leak information. Turns out that CryptDB, a SQL database add-on developed at MIT that allows searching of encrypted data, allows search queries to be combined with information in the public domain to hack the database. More on this in a minute. In the meantime, let’s consider the assumption that encryption is inviolate/ infrangible/ impervious to hacks. As I mentioned in an earlier post, encryption algorithms are too complex for most laypersons to understand, but we should at least wrap our heads around the concept that encryption is not a “set it and forget it” technology, nor is it foolproof.
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Image copyright Catherine Lane 2015

My New Year’s resolutions will likely be broken early and often in 2016. My consequences are mostly non-monetary: a few more pounds, a little less savings, and not winning the triathlon in my age group. Your consequences, as a HIPAA-covered entity or business associate, for not complying with the Privacy and Security Rules could be much greater, and could put you into serious debt to the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Therefore, we propose that you resolve now to become fully HIPAA compliant in 2016.

OCR delivered an early holiday gift, wrapped in the Director’s Sept. 23, 2015, report to the Office of Inspector General. In that report, she disclosed that OCR will launch Phase 2 of its HIPAA audit program in early 2016, focusing on noncompliance issues for both covered entities and business associates.

So, grab that cup of hot cocoa and peruse this review of 2014-2015 HIPAA enforcement actions, which should help identify noncompliance issues on which OCR will focus in 2016. 
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checking-iniStock_000015745218_LargeYesterday the FTC announced it has settled its claims against Wyndham for inadequate data security, with Wyndham signing on to essentially the same consent order used by the FTC in most of its more than 50 concluded data security enforcement matters. The settlement marks the end of a three-year legal battle in which Wyndham attempted, unsuccessfully, to restrict the FTC’s authority to pursue companies for inadequate data security as an ”unfair” business practice under Section 5 of the FTC Act.
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White gift box wrapped with vibrant red bow and ribbon isolatedTalk about a “bank holiday” – under a settlement deal filed in court yesterday, Target will pay $39.4 million  to a litigation class of banks and credit unions to settle financial institution claims related to the retailers’ massive 2013 data breach, which compromised at least 40 million credit cards. The preliminary settlement is the first time a retailer has agreed to directly absorb financial institutions’ costs from a data breach, such as fraud losses and the expense of issuing new debit and credit cards.

Under the terms of this settlement, Target will pay up to $20.25 million directly to the settlement class and $19.1 million to fund MasterCard’s Account Data Compromise Program relating to the breach. The settlement will apply to all U.S. financial institutions that issued payment cards identified as having been at risk from the breach and that did not previously release their claims against Target by signing on to separate deals. A final approval hearing on the settlement is set for next year.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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shopping-cartsiStock_000000255866_MediumCosts continue to mount for Target as the company works to put its massive 2013 data breach behind it. Target and Visa recently announced an agreement for Target to reimburse Visa card issuers as much as $67 million for costs associated with the historic breach. The settlement is considerably larger, and more likely to succeed, than the proposed $19 million deal between Target and MasterCard that issuers previously rejected as too low.
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