Michael A. Gold, co-chair of JMBM’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group, will host a panel of industry leading experts for the webinar, The Right Stuff: Validating Reasonable Information Security

Date: Thursday, June 18, 2020

Time: 10 AM – 11:15 AM PDT; 1 PM –  1:15 PM EDT

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Most organizations have never had to prove that they have reasonable information security. Business and legal pressures are changing this dramatically. The California Consumer Privacy Act exposes businesses that have been breached to serious financial liability when they do not have reasonable information security. With data breaches increasing in scope and damage regardless of the money spent on cybersecurity, businesses will need to validate – in effect prove – that they have reasonable information security in order to avoid financial, legal and reputational harm.

During this webinar, our panel of experts cover:

The meaning of reasonable information security: What is it? Why the established information security frameworks, such as NIST, ISO and CISO,  do not deliver reasonable information security; Why dynamic assessment of an organization’s information security posture is crucial; The impact of overlooked vulnerabilities in cloud and IoT environments.

The legal requirement for validating reasonable information security: The far-reaching impact of the California Consumer Privacy Act’s requirement for reasonable information security practices and procedures; Why the law is a precursor to similar requirements likely to be adopted by other states and the federal government; legal exposures arising from inability to validate reasonable information security.

The business and insurance imperatives for validating reasonable information security: Cyber insurance carriers will no longer take at face value an insured’s representations about its information security posture; Larger enterprises will decline to do business with companies that cannot validate the effectiveness of their information security measures; Regulated companies will no longer be permitted to self-certify their compliance with information security and privacy requirements. Continue reading

As a privacy and cybersecurity lawyer, I’m often asked by clients and potential clients about preparing a privacy policy – whether they need one, and how much it costs. And underlying the question is an assumption – privacy policies are really just formalities, and all they need to do is find the right form, or a competitor’s model, make sure to change the name and contact information, and they’re done.

They are right about one thing – any company that collects any kind of personal information needs a privacy policy. Laws throughout the world – not just in the United States, but in the European Union, Canada, Australia and elsewhere – have laws that require a privacy policy, some in great detail, others more generally. The California Online Privacy Protection Act, which went into effect in 2004, began this trend, and the advent of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in California increased the details for privacy policies of companies under their jurisdiction, by requiring greater detail on the types of data collected, the uses of the data, and how consumers can limit the use of personal data.

There are also third parties that require privacy disclosures, including Google Analytics, a ubiquitous feature of commercial websites.

But they are wrong about what it takes to create a privacy policy. Using another company’s policy might be a starting place, but it takes much more. Assuming that all privacy policies are alike is a dangerous practice – if a company does not take the steps to ensure that the policy is accurate and complete, it increases, rather than limits, its liability. Companies must analyze their data collection practices and make sure that reality is reflected in the policy.

What is Included in a Privacy Policy?

While there are a wide variety of policies, they generally include some key elements:

  • Information about the business, including contact details;
  • The types of personal data that is collected;
  • How the data is used;
  • Whether and how it is shared with third parties; and
  • What does the company do to protect personal information?

Continue reading

Robert E. Braun, chair of JMBM’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group, will be the keynote speaker for the webinar, Privacy and Information Security – Best Practices and Imperatives.

Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Time: 2:00 PM Pacific Time

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Moving to the Cloud to Save Money

The Covid-19 pandemic has created profound challenges for almost every organization. As these challenges mount, companies are dramatically cutting their soft costs, including information security. Many companies are reducing their information security and privacy compliance spending by moving to the cloud. This is good, right? Maybe, and only if the move is managed in a well-informed way. Not asking the right questions up front can lead to serious consequences.

It is crucial to keep in mind that no information security or privacy law in existence today views being in the cloud, in and of itself, as constituting reasonable information security. Nor does any information security or privacy law view the cloud as a mitigating factor in the context of data breaches.

 Increasing Reliance on Cloud Computing

The use of cloud platforms has grown exponentially. One of the results of the work-at-home mandate, which will persist even as work restrictions are relaxed, is the continuing move to cloud computing, both because of the benefits of scalability and the dedicated IT and IS resources afforded by cloud vendors and also the need to conserve financial resources. It is difficult and expensive to maintain onsite information technology and information security operations and staff. Cloud computing reduces costs and increases accessibility.

Moving to the cloud, however, does not eliminate all risks – some hazards go away but others are introduced. Cloud environments are vulnerable if end-users fail to observe proper security hygiene – vulnerabilities at the end-user level will create vulnerabilities in the cloud environment. It is imperative as well that the cloud vendor has appropriate information security and privacy compliance measures in place. Many smaller cloud vendors and service providers who use the cloud have deficient information security and privacy compliance frameworks, assuming they have any in place at all. Many organizations, especially small and medium sized businesses, seldom evaluate whether their vendor’s cloud is a safe place to be.

Getting the move to a cloud environment right is crucial. The security and availability of an organization’s data is important for both operational and business continuity reasons. Moving to a cloud is no excuse for taking eyes off of information security or for lax privacy compliance. Continue reading

Leonard Lee of Thomson Reuters Legal Current interviewed Bob Braun, Co-chair of JMBM’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group for a podcast titled, “Are You Practicing Social Media Hygiene?”

Listen to the podcast here.

In this brief podcast (18:28 minutes), Bob Braun discusses the risks that both companies and individuals face when posting information on social media.

Braun describes situations in which hackers spoof a company’s boss, based on real-time information posted on social media, resulting in unrecoverable monetary losses for the company.

“Posting information about yourself on social media can be used by a hacker to fool you or people you know,” he said.

Braun covers issues that individuals and employees should be aware of when using social media, including email.

“Sophisticated programs are easily available on the dark web. We are dealing with bad actors who are extremely skilled and creative,” he said.

“Habits on social media have to be consistent in business and personal lives.”

Listen to the podcast here. Continue reading

Robert E. Braun and Michael A. Gold, co-chairs of JMBM’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group, will participate as panelists on the webinar, What is Reasonable Information Security?

Date:   Thursday, April 23, 2020
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM Pacific Time

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JMBM’s cybersecurity lawyers, along with a cybersecurity consultant, a Chief Information Security Officer, and a cyber compliance expert will address the following questions about reasonable information security:

  • What isn’t it?
  • What is it?
  • What does the legal landscape look like?
  • Is it a realistic goal?
  • How does it impact my 3rd party risk policies and practices?

Moderator:

Sean Weppner – Chief Strategy Officer, Nisos

Panelists:

Robert E. Braun – Partner and Co-chair of JMBM’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group
Michael A Gold – Partner and Co-chair of JMBM’s Cybersecurity & Privacy Group
Art Ehuan – Vice President, Crypsis
Gerald Beuchelt – CISO, LogMeIn
Greg Kruck – Director, Sales Engineering, CyCognito

Register Now for This Informative Program

 

Robert E. Braun is the co-chair of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Law Group at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. Bob helps clients to develop and implement privacy and information security policies, negotiate agreements for technologies and data management services, and comply with legal and regulatory requirements. He helps clients to develop and implement data breach response plans, and he and his team respond quickly to clients’ needs when a data breach occurs. Contact Bob at RBraun@jmbm.com or +1 310.785.5331.

Michael A. Gold is the co-chair of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Law Group at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. Known for both legal expertise and an understanding of technology, he works with Boards of Directors, C-Suite executives, and IT directors to address cyber risks. He advises clients on domestic and international requirements for information privacy and security. He represents companies in complex litigation and arbitrations, including class action defense actions connected with data breach and privacy claims. Contact Mike at MGold@jmbm.com or +1 310.201.3529.

JMBM’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Group counsels clients in a wide variety of industries, including accounting firms, law firms, business management firms and family offices, in matters ranging from development of cybersecurity strategies, creation of data security and privacy policies, responding to data breaches and regulatory inquiries and investigations, and crisis management. The Cybersecurity and Privacy Group uses a focused intake methodology that permits clients to get a reliable sense of their cybersecurity readiness and to determine optimal, client-specific approaches to cybersecurity.

There’s no question that this is one of the most difficult times we have faced. The turnaround from nearly full employment to 3,000,000 new unemployment claims, the sequestration of two-thirds of the population, the closing of restaurants, entertainment venues, places of worship, mass furloughs and layoffs, the elimination of the social interactions which we thrive on – these are not normal times. And, moreover, the world that emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic will be very different from the world that preceded it.

So with all of this going on, when many of you are simply trying to see how you can survive and emerge from this crisis, why should you worry about privacy and security?

Things Will Return to Normal

Eventually – and hopefully not terribly long from now – life will gain a new normality. It won’t necessarily be business as usual, but it will be some kind of business, and one thing that will return are the laws and regulations that govern us now. Just as the California Attorney General has decided (as of now) not to delay enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act, the other strictures regarding privacy and security aren’t going away. The crisis will not cause the FTC to stand down on its enforcement of claims of unfair and deceptive trade practices, the Department of Health and Human Services will continue to enforce HIPAA, the federal banking regulators will enforce the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and as soon as they can meet, electronically or in person, state (and perhaps even federal) legislatures will press for more stringent privacy and security laws and regulations.

Some Changes will be Permanent

One change that is likely to stick beyond the end of the crisis is the move to remote working. Many workers will find that they like to work at home. Many businesses will realize that keeping their workforce in offices is less productive and costly. The possibility that waves of Covid-19 or other viruses may continue will make working remotely more common. And the success of online meeting tools – Zoom, Webex and others – will make both workers and companies realize that while in-person meetings are important, they aren’t always necessary.

A side effect, and one that we are already seeing, is the need to protect the expanding edge of network environments. As networks expand from the physical dimensions of an office to homes, security profiles change. Firms will need to consider how to maintain a secure computing environment when they have less control over that environment.

Security and Privacy is an Asset

An effective and compliant privacy and security program is a valuable asset that can differentiate a firm from its competitors. Clients and customers are increasingly sophisticated and recognize that a company whose privacy policy is dated before 2020 has not addressed the new obligations of companies to protect the personal information of its clients, customers, employees and others is behind the times.

Moreover, there are increasing liabilities associated with poor security and non-compliance. It is unlikely that any entity that does business in California is unaware of the private right of action that the California Consumer Privacy Act grants to individuals whose personal information has been compromised because a company failed to maintain “adequate security,” and that individual plaintiffs may be awarded between $250 and $750 for failure to maintain adequate data security. Many other state proposals, as well as federal initiatives, include a similar private right of action. In the absence of a data breach, the CCPA includes an enforcement mechanism giving the California Attorney General the ability to seek damages of between $2,500 and $7,500 for each violation of the CCPA. The stakes for companies are high, and getting higher.

What to Do?

In a crisis, companies should take the time to prepare for the aftermath. Many firms should see how they can adapt their business operations to take advantage of new opportunities and fend off threats. Companies now have the ability to allocate resources to protect themselves from breaches and establish compliance programs, which they will not as business eventually ramps up again. Companies that look forward to the new business environment and prepare for it will survive and thrive; those that do not will be left behind.

The JMBM Cybersecurity and Privacy Group assists clients both in complying with laws and achieving real data and information security. For more information, contact Robert Braun (RBraun@jmbm.com) or Michael Gold (MGold@jmbm.com).

Robert E. Braun is the co-chair of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Law Group at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. Bob helps clients to develop and implement privacy and information security policies, negotiate agreements for technologies and data management services, and comply with legal and regulatory requirements. He helps clients to develop and implement data breach response plans, and he and his team respond quickly to clients’ needs when a data breach occurs. Contact Bob at RBraun@jmbm.com or +1 310.785.5331.

JMBM’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Group counsels clients in a wide variety of industries, including accounting firms, law firms, business management firms and family offices, in matters ranging from development of cybersecurity strategies, creation of data security and privacy policies, responding to data breaches and regulatory inquiries and investigations, and crisis management. The Cybersecurity and Privacy Group uses a focused intake methodology that permits clients to get a reliable sense of their cybersecurity readiness and to determine optimal, client-specific approaches to cybersecurity.

There’s no question that the novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, has created massive disruptions in our lives.  Those of us who can work are working remotely, social distancing has become the rule of the day, and while this will end, there is no sure end date in sight.

Even some things that we thought might be unalterable have changed – tax returns have been delayed, and multiple laws are modified to fit the times, whether they be a holiday from parking tickets (at least in Los Angeles), to extensions of unemployment insurance and sick leave.  But some things have not changed, and privacy laws are one of them.

Data Privacy and Security Laws Haven’t Changed

Privacy and security obligations under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, protection of health data under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, financial privacy under Gramm-Leach-Bliley – all of these are still in place and being enforced.  Contractual obligations, for the most part, remain unaffected (although force majeure clauses and governmental action might provide some relief).

And enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 by the California Attorney General remains scheduled for July 1, 2020, even if the recently amended regulations interpreting the act don’t become effective until after that.  Businesses throughout California have petitioned the Attorney General for a delay in enforcement while they contend with the disruptions of the current pandemic, without response from the AG.

Data Breaches Continue

One group that hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic has been data thieves.  Yesterday, a non-scientific sampling of headlines included:

If anything, the pandemic has given hackers new venues to seek out victims under compelling phishing campaigns.

What Has Changed?

Continue reading

Amended CCPA Regulations – Key Takeaways

On February 7, 2020, the California Attorney General issued a second draft of the regulations implementing the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (the “CCPA”).  Interestingly, while the Attorney General had earlier stated that the final regulations would be substantially the same as the original regulations, the Attorney General has made a number of significant changes.

The amended regulations are a mixed bag.  In a number of areas, the regulations as initially proposed went beyond the scope of the CCPA; that has, in a number of cases, been rectified.  However, the amended regulations do retain the do-not-sell signal requirement and add restrictions on how service providers handle personal information.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Notice Provisions. The “at collection” notice requirements, which have been problematic for many companies, have been expanded.  The amended regulation requires notices on “all webpages where personal information is collected,” as well as both on a mobile app download page “and within the app,” such as through the app’s download page or settings menu.  At the same time, the regulation answers a common question – oral notice would be allowed when information is collected in person or over the phone. The amended regulations add a requirement for a “just-in-time” notice for collection of personal information on mobile devices if “the consumer would not reasonably expect” the collection.  Compliance with this requirement will be challenging, and companies will need to consider what a consumer would reasonably expect.
  • Deletion Requests. The original regulations treated an unverified request to delete as a request to opt-out of sales.  The amended regulations allows companies to ask a consumer that has made an unverified request to delete if they would like to opt out of the sale of the personal information. Businesses would also be permitted to retain a record of a deletion request for the purpose of ensuring the consumer’s personal information remains deleted from the business’s records. And the new regulation also provides much-needed guidance regarding the deletion exception for data stored on backup systems; personal information does not need to be deleted unless the data in the backup system is restored to an active system or is accessed or used for a sale, disclosure or commercial purpose.

Continue reading

The FTC Speaks

On January 6, 2020, the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Protection Bureau published a blog post with changes to the FTC’s approach to its orders and settlements of data breach enforcement actions.  One of the key elements of the report was a revision to the FTC’s routine enforcement practice to ensure that its remedial data security orders include greater specificity about compliance expectations for companies subject to enforcement action and for third-party assessors engaged to conduct FTC-mandated monitoring and audits of targeted companies’ data security practices.

Beyond greater detail guiding data security requirements, the blog post highlights that a core element of the FTC’s model for remedial orders is that senior management, on at least an annual basis, present the company’s written information security program to the board or other governing body for oversight and review, and that management certify to the FTC that the company has complied with data security obligations.

The Growing Role of Managers and Boards in Data Security

The decision by the FTC reflects a growing consensus about the roles and responsibilities of management and boards for the adequacy of enterprise programs to identify, evaluate, and manage data and information security risks.  While this is not the first time boards of directors have been held accountable for the security practices of the companies they represent, it shows that this obligation has become mainstream and should be noted by all companies, whether they are the victim of a breach or not.

The FTC’s endorsement of data security-related corporate governance approaches, safeguards, and third-party monitoring methods is likely to impact enforcement expectations of other regulators, whether state, federal or local, responsible for administering data security compliance and breach notification regulations.

Impact on Business

Businesses regularly collect vast amounts of personal information, and often are unaware of the extent, location and accessibility of that information.  Moreover, businesses rely on third parties to collect, store, and process data, and the responsibility for the protection of personal data – customer, client and employee data – is a hot potato.  Companies are only now reviewing their internal operations, as well as their relationships with vendors, to inventory their data and data collection practices.  The FTC’s rule makes it clear that the responsibility for the protection and privacy of personal information will reach to the top of the business. Continue reading