The International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, a New York-based organisation offering Alternative Dispute Resolution services, has recently announced the launch of a new specialised panel of neutrals, commissioned to deal with cybersecurity disputes. The Cyber Panel is composed of experts in cyber-related areas such as data breaches and subsequent insurance claims. In a press release, Noah Hanft, President of CPR, described the new panel as guiding the “critical effort” by businesses to “prevent and/or resolve cyber-related disputes in a manner that best protects operations, customers and reputation” due to attacks now occurring with increased frequency and sophistication.
The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights is taking an aggressive stand on HIPAA enforcement and targeting violations related to security risk assessments and business associate agreements. Three resolution agreements posted in the last month make clear that the agency expects entities subject to HIPAA to take appropriate steps to secure their data, regardless of the size or type of the entity.
The Department of Health and Human Services released guidance on July 11, 2016, intended to help the healthcare industry prepare for and respond to ransomware attacks. Specifically, this guidance clarifies: (1) that a ransomware attack is considered a “security incident” under HIPAA, and (2) that a ransomware attack will typically be considered a “breach” by HHS unless entities are able to demonstrate that there is a “low probability of compromise.” The guidance also clarifies that covered entities must implement the same risk assessment processes as they would with other types of cyber threats, including malware. At a time when ransomware attacks are on the rise, this guidance heightens the potential regulatory enforcement consequences of these events.
While many of the recent most highly publicized data breaches have involved high-profile consumer brands, the life sciences sector is an increasingly attractive target for a cyber attack. Criminal attackers are targeting the health sector as part of industrial espionage programs and to obtain patient information that can fetch premium prices on the black market. In developing a cybersecurity strategy to combat potential threats, life sciences companies should employ a comprehensive strategy involving an assessment and analysis of likely risks, and active and continuing planning, training, and updating of cybersecurity strategies. Regulators have already signaled that cybersecurity risk assessments are foundational to meeting legal requirements and can define the baseline for what constitutes reasonable security measures within an organization.
A growing number of state and federal laws require organizations to implement reasonable security safeguards to protect personal information. But what constitutes reasonable data security? This question has vexed organizations and spurred a considerable amount of litigation. On February 16, 2016, the California Attorney General’s Office released its 2016 Data Breach Report, which for the first time provides a listing of safeguards that the Attorney General views as constituting reasonable information security practices. Despite being focused on California, the Report’s recommendations are likely to have an impact far beyond the borders of the Golden State.
The threat of ransomware is one of three example scenarios highlighted in a recent white paper released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, titled Data Integrity: Reducing the Impact of an Attack. The paper launches a joint project led by the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence, with participation by the Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center and several private sector organizations.