Category Archives: Cyber Attacks

SEC, FINRA and the U.S. Senate Prepare for Cyberattacks in 2015

Two major government agencies have issued reports addressing security of brokerage and advisory firms, and two U.S. Senators have declared their intention to expand cyber-security laws into automobiles.  In February, the SEC released two major publications (here and here) regarding risks for brokerage and advisory firms, as well as adjusters.  The Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA), a private corporation managed by financial industry insiders and billed as the self-appointed “regulator” for NYSE and NASDAQ, has issued a report to assist broker-dealer firms with…

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Third Circuit Reviews FTC’s Authority To Enforce An “Unreasonable Failure” To Protect Against A Cyber Attack

Today, the Third Circuit heard oral argument in a case that may have a profound impact on the Federal Trade Commission’s enforcement authority over corporate cybersecurity.  The question presented to the Court of Appeals is whether the FTC can pursue an enforcement action against a company under Section 5 of the FTC Act if the FTC believes that a cyber-hack occurred due to the company’s “unreasonable failure” to protect consumer data. The FTC alleges that Wyndham Worldwide did not “employ reasonable and appropriate measures to…

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Cyber-Attack Class Actions Are On The Rise

After a barrage of media coverage over the release of The Interview, Sony Pictures now finds itself in federal court defending against seven class action lawsuits filed less than a month after the North Korean government hacked its computer system.  Sony became aware of this “unprecedented” attack, in which it reportedly lost over 100 terabytes of data, on the morning of November 24th.  The first class action complaint, Corona v. Sony Pictures Entm’t, Inc., was filed on December 15, 2014 —…

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Cyber Attack Immobilizes Dutch Government Websites

As reported by the BBC, most of the Dutch government’s websites were rendered inoperable after a successful distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyber-attack on Tuesday, when servers were flooded with traffic, rendering the sites virtually inoperable.  A number of private sites were also breached, and the attack also affected communications provider Telford.  As the BBC noted, these attacks “highlighted the vulnerability of public infrastructure.” An official from the Dutch Government Information Service, Rimbert Kloosterman, remarked that the complexity and size of the government’s websites had…

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Department of Homeland Security Must Assess Cyber Risks to Building Access and Control Systems

The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report this month calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and General Services Administration (GSA) to develop and implement a strategy to address cyber risks to building and access control systems, including the computers that monitor and control building operations such as elevators, electrical power, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.  As these systems are increasingly connected to other information systems and the Internet, there is greater vulnerability to cyber attacks, which, the report explains, “could…

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Digital Cloning: Hacking Your Fingerprints

While your biometrics may be as unique as a snowflake, they can still be digitally captured, copied and used to gain access to your “secure” computer network and data storage facilities.  Using standard photos taken during a press event in October and commercially available software, a 31-year-old member of Europe’s largest association of hackers successfully re-created a digital fingerprint of German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen.  The digital print could then be used not only to fool security software, but with the increasing sophistication…

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Hacker Gains Control of German Steel Mill Operations

The  German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has issued a report revealing that a sophisticated hacker was able to take control of a steel mill’s computerized production system, forcing an unscheduled shut-down that caused “massive damage” to the physical plant. By using targeted emails, known as “spear phishing,” employees were tricked into opening messages that extracted login names and passwords and transmitted that information to the hacker without detection. The hacker, in turn, used the data to gain limited control of the…

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Mandatory Reporting and “Cyber Mission Forces” Created in 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)

Beyond appropriating $560,000,000,000 for military spending for 2015, the Defense Authorization Act passed this month expands the role of the military in wide range of areas, including strategic programs in outer space, budgeting and accounting for a new “cyber mission” major force program category, and new mandatory reporting of “cyber incidents” by government contractors and agencies. Title XVI, Subtitle C of the Senate Amendment to H.R. 3979, “Cyber-Related Matters,” first directs the Secretary of Defense to submit with the 2017 budget a new program for…

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Cybsersecurity Starts at the Top

This summer, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC), made up of the FED Board of Governors and FDIC, among others, conducted a Cybersecurity Assessment at over 500 community financial institutions to evaluate their ability to handle cyber risks.  While the data is still being analyzed in order to assist with future guidance and regulations, last month the FFIEC Cybersecurity Assessment’s “General Observations” were released. What is striking about the General Observations, which are not to be construed as guidance, is that they call out…

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Can Companies Pre-Emptively Avoid Class Action Suits from Massive Data Breaches? (A Blog Series)

There’s a constant flow of news about massive data breaches nowadays.  So much so that the question for companies with large amounts of personal data storage is no longer “if” it can happen but “when” it will happen.  In this series, we’re going to discuss one method that larger companies are using to significantly reduce the risk exposure to massive data breaches: click-wrap terms of use that require users to waive participation in class actions and instead only pursue claims by way of arbitration or…

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