“You don’t drown from falling into the water, you drown from not getting out.” Think about that — and think about how that applies to cyber security and data breach issues facing companies in today’s cyber world. Here, in my first ever video blog post, I explain this issue with more detail.
“What do I talk about?”
No, it’s not that I don’t have anything to say — for goodness sakes, you all know that I always have something to say!
The problem I am having is that I had planned to talk about cyber risk compliance and the key elements of what a good cyber risk compliance program needs to include and why. Interesting topic, right? :)
But tonight I saw where a local restaurant that just may be my favorite Tex-Mex place of all — Blue Goose Cantina — had a data breach last week. What was interesting is that they announced it via Facebook at what seems like a very preliminary stage. So, I am thinking I just may make this the focal point of my presentation and use it as an ad hoc case study.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you would rather hear?
I am really looking forward to speaking to the 400+ attendees at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ (ACFE) 25th Annual DFW Fraud Conference event on Friday, May 15, 2015.
My address is titled Addressing the Most Current Cybersecurity Threats: Don’t Be the Next Victim.
You can learn more about this event at this LINK and here are some of the event materials:
This is an excellent article that covers a very important topic you need to consider. You — as in Executives and Board Members of Companies all around the world.
Stop, close your eyes, and ask yourself these three questions that are in this article:
- “What did you think of the announcement?” (i.e., put yourself in her position and envision that day)
- “Is there anything in your emails and files that, if exposed, would get you fired?” (this is self explanatory, but see this related post for advice on this issue: #SonyHack: Will Executives’ Embarrassing Emails Better Motivate Cybersecurity Change?)
- “In the event we experience a breach, what are our priorities?” (again, self explanatory, but see this related post for advice on planning: Breach Response Planning)
Now check out the full article: The conversation security leaders need to have about Amy Pascal’s departure | CSO Online.
Today is Data Privacy Day! If you have been wondering “what is Data Privacy Day?” then this is your lucky day because not only is today Data Privacy Day, but here is the answer and an explanation for why it really matters to you and your company’s future success.
What is Data Privacy Day?
Data Privacy Day is observed every year on January 28 and is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a nonprofit, public-private partnership dedicated cybersecurity education and awareness. According to the NCSA,
Data Privacy Day is an international effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy and control their digital footprint.
Data Privacy Day began in the United States and Canada in January 2008 as an extension of the Data Protection Day celebration in Europe. Data Protection Day commemorates the January 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. Data Privacy Day is now a celebration for everyone, observed annually on January 28.
Data flows freely in today’s online world. Everyone – from home computer users to multinational corporations – needs to be aware of the personal data others have entrusted to them and remain vigilant and proactive about protecting it. Being a good online citizen means practicing conscientious data stewardship. Data Privacy Day is an effort to empower and educate people to protect their privacy, control their digital footprint, and make the protection of privacy and data a great priority in their lives.
14 Tips For Keeping Your Company’s Data Secure
In honor of Data Privacy Day, the International Association of Privacy Professionals (iapp) has posted an article with 14 tips you need to consider when evaluating how to keep your company’s data secure:
- Know Thy Data. Determine what data you collect and share. Classify it according to its level of criticality and sensitivity. What could be considered PII? Define whether data is “in use,” “in motion” or “at rest.” Know where the data is physically stored.
- You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone. Conduct annual audits to review whether your data should be retained, aggregated or discarded. Data that’s no longer used needs to be securely decommissioned. Create a data retention policy dictating how long you keep information once it’s fulfilled its original purpose. And, of course, continually ask whether that purpose is still valid and relevant.
- Practice or You’ll Breach. Forged e-mail, malvertising, phishing, social engineering exploits and data snooping via unencrypted transmissions are on the rise. From simple controls to sophisticated gears, make sure you’ve implemented leading security “best practices.”
- AYO Technology! Data Loss Prevention (DLP) technologies identify vulnerabilities of potential exposures. These work in conjunction with existing security and antivirus tools. From early warnings of irregular data flows to unauthorized employee access, DLP solutions help minimize and remediate threats.
- BYOD Is Like a BYOB House Party. The lack of a coherent bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program can put an organization at risk. User devices can easily pass malware and viruses onto company platforms. Develop a formal mobile device management program that includes an inventory of all personal devices used in the workplace, an installation of remote wiping tools and procedures for employee loss notification.
- Insist on a List. To mitigate the grave impact on your organization, inventory key systems, access credentials and contacts. This includes bank accounts, registrars, cloud service providers, server hosting providers and payroll providers. Keep this list in a secure yet accessible location.
- Forensics – Don’t Do This at Home. The forensics investigation is essential in determining the source and magnitude of a breach. This is best left to the experts as it’s easy to accidentally modify or disrupt the chain of custody.
- Where the Logs At? Logs are fundamental components in forensics analysis, helping investigators understand what data was compromised. Types of logs include transaction, server access, firewall and client operating system. Examine all logs in advance to ensure correct configuration and time-zone synchronization. Routinely back them up; keep copies, and make sure they’re protected.
- Incident Response Team to the Rescue! Breaches are interdisciplinary events requiring coordinated strategies and responses. The team should represent every functional group within the organization, with an appointed executive who has defined responsibilities and authority. Establish “first responders” available 24/7 (hackers don’t work a 9 to 5 schedule).
- Get Friendly With the “Fuzz.” Reach out to law enforcement and regulators prior to an incident. Know who to contact so you won’t have to introduce yourself in the “heat of the battle.” When you have bad news to report, make sure they hear directly from you (a courtesy call goes a long way). Don’t inflame the situation by becoming defensive; focus on what you’re doing to help affected parties.
- Rules, Rules, Rules. Become intimately familiar with the international, domestic and local regulations that specifically relate to your organization. The failure to notify the appropriate governmental body can result in further inquiries and fines.
- What Did You Say? A well-executed communications plan not only minimizes harm and potential legal consequences, it also mitigates harm to a company’s reputation. Address critical audiences and review applicable laws before notifying. Tailor your message by geographic region and demographics. Knowing what to say is just as important as knowing what NOT to say.
- Help Me Help You. Customers want organizations to take responsibility and protect them from the potential consequences of a breach. The DIP should include easy-to-access remedies that offset the harm to affected parties.
Here is a link to the full post: How to Lose Your Data in 10 Days
The 14 tips are a great place to start when thinking about securing your company’s data. As shown by the recent data breaches that have hit Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels, and Barnes & Noble, the question is no longer one of if your company will have a data breach, but when.
When Your Company is Breached, Your Preparation Will Be Vital to the Company Surviving the Crisis
A data breach is a crisis situation for any company–especially given the amount of attention data breaches are getting these days. From a very big picture perspective, there are two goals to strive for when a company responds to a data breach: (1) avoid, or at least mitigate, any legal and regulatory trouble; and, (2) more importantly, minimize the impact of the breach on the company’s overall business. (see related data breach discussions) The only way your company can achieve these goals is to be proactive by getting prepared before the inevitable occurs–the breach.
If your company is prepared, it is in a much better position to minimize the loss of data, be better able to respond to the breach, and demonstrate to the legal and regulatory authorities that it acted reasonably in protecting its data, which can be very helpful in minimizing the legal and regulatory repercussions, which is the first step. By being prepared and better able to address the first step, the company is then able to focus more of its efforts on polishing its response to be more palatable for its customers and better addressing their feelings and concerns. In other words, if the company is prepared, it is not panicking and scrambling just to get out a response–any response–but instead can take the time to analyze the situation through its customers’ eyes and provide a much better response that takes their feelings and concerns into consideration. This is the vital step because this is what helps preserve the company’s customer relationships.
The best way to be prepared for this is for your company to have a thorough and custom data breach incident response plan. The data breach incident response plan should be tailored to fit your company in many ways, including the following ways just to name a few:
- the nature of your company’s culture, both internally and externally
- the nature of your company’s customers
- the nature of your company’s products or services
- the nature of your company’s operations and management structure
- the type, volume, and sensitivity of the data your company collects and retains
- the security measures your company has in place
- the resources your company has to devote to data security issues
- the security standards of your company’s particular industry
Could you figure these things out on your own, with enough time and effort? Probably so — but would that really be efficient? More importantly, and I can not over-emphasize this point enough: You need an attorney to assist you with many of these things because, when done under the guidance of an attorney and if the proper formalities are observed, much of the process can be protected by the attorney-client privilege, but not if you don’t have an attorney assisting with the process.
Help is Only a Telephone Call Away
I have assisted many companies with data security issues from assessing their cybersecurity and data privacy strengths and vulnerabilities, helping them implement policies and procedures for better securing their data, preparing data breach incident response plans, leading them through responses to a data breach, and litigating disputes that have arisen from data breaches. When it comes to cybersecurity and data privacy, I see the whole playing field. If you have questions about how you can help better prepare your company, please feel free to give me a call (214.472.2135) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This update/clarification post explains how the proposed Washington state data breach notification law is really treating encrypted data and how it may actually be expanding the data breach safe harbor exceptions under that law.
I recently blogged about a newsletter I received from the Washington State Attorney General in which the AB was calling for a new data breach notification law for the State of Washington. Of the several points mentioned for the new breach notification law, the one that really stood out was the call to eliminate the blanket notification exemption for encrypted data that is the norm with these laws.
This point also got the attention of my friend Jim Brashear (@JFBrashear) who knows a thing or two about encryption as General Counsel for Zix, the world’s leader in email encryption. Not only did Jim find a link to the actual newsletter (HERE), but he shared with me some excellent analysis on what is in the proposal as well as the issue of encryption in general.
The issue of encryption is particularly relevant now, given some of the assinine talk we have been hearing about the US and UK’s possible cybersecurity “solutions” that could involve outlawing certain forms of encryption. (yeah — when you get up off the floor, you can read more here: Obama and Cameron’s ‘solutions’ for cybersecurity will make the internet worse).
Because of that, and because I always learn a lot from my conversations with Jim, I am sharing some of his insight with you that comes from an email from Jim:
The press release notes that current Washington law “does not require notifications concerning the release of ‘encrypted’ data, even when the encryption is easy to break or there is reason to believe that the encryption ‘key’ has been stolen.”
If any state data breach legislation (or rules) were to eliminate the notice exception for encrypted data, that would be bad [for everyone]. More importantly, that sort of law makes no sense. It would remove one incentive for businesses to use reasonable data protection.
But the legislation that the AG is advocating does not actually eliminate the exception for encrypted data … even though the bills delete the specific references to encryption. The legislation provides that “Notice is not required if the breach of the security of the system is not reasonably likely to subject consumers to a risk of criminal activity.” That would be true in the case of strong encryption where the key has not been compromised.
(1) Any person or business that conducts business in this state and that owns or licenses ((
computerized)) data that includes personal information shall disclose any breach of the security of the system following discovery or notification of the breach in the security of the data to any resident of this state whose (( unencrypted)) personal information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by an unauthorized person. (( The disclosure shall be made in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, consistent with the legitimate needs of law enforcement, as provided in subsection (3) of this section, or any measures necessary to determine the scope of the breach and restore the reasonable integrity of the data system.)) Notice is not required if the breach of the security of the system is not reasonably likely to subject consumers to a risk of criminal activity.
THE TAKEAWAY: This proposed legislation does not eliminate the encryption safe harbor in situations where (1) strong encryption was used and (2) the encryption’s effectiveness has not been compromised. It does, however, broaden the safe harbor to include other situations where, even though there has been a breach, it “is not reasonably likely to subject consumers to a risk of criminal activity.”
The litigation to determine this “reasonably likely” standard could get real fun and the “experts” in this area will have a field day!
Shawn Tuma (@shawnetuma) is a cybersecurity lawyer business leaders trust to help solve problems with cutting-edge issues involving cyber risk and compliance, computer fraud, data breach and privacy, and intellectual property law. He is a partner at Scheef & Stone, LLP, a full service commercial law firm in Texas that represents businesses of all sizes across the United States.
Thank you to Platform Magazine for quoting me discussing the PR component of my CyberGard – Business Cyber Risk Protection Program in this forward thinking article about the value of getting public relations on board before your company has a data breach.
In a recent post I explained why a data breach response must focus on the business side of the breach: “The most important issue is how the incident will impact the company’s overall business. No matter how great of a job we do on the legal side, if the business side suffers too much, it is an overall failure. These situations are not the time for tunnel vision.”
A key component to focusing on the business impact is the businesses’ communications with the public. This where having professionals to help with the “messaging” becomes so important. Read more in The Public Relations Side of a Data Breach | Platform Magazine.