Malware was recently identified that appears to have been designed and deployed by a nation-state to target and shut down electric grids. According to published reports, this malware currently appears to be capable of attacking the European grids, and parts of the Middle East and Asia grids, by targeting the specific industrial control system network protocols used to operate those grids. With small modifications, the malware reportedly also appears to be capable of attacking the North American power grid, as well as other industries that use ICS networks (e.g., oil, gas, water, data) around the globe. This post discusses the malware as well as vulnerability management.
Major companies, health care organizations and government agencies are facing a wave of cyberattacks involving ransomware that takes control of computers and denies access until a ransom is paid. These attacks are occurring on a global scale and in some cases are having a significant impact on business and healthcare operations. The cyberattack has disrupted targets throughout the world from Britain’s National Health Service to US Fortune 500 companies, the Russian Foreign Ministry, and universities in China.
In the past month, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has issued a draft update to its flagship cybersecurity framework as well as new standalone guidance on how organizations can plan to recover from cybersecurity events. The publication of these documents demonstrates NIST’s ongoing focus on providing substantive guidance to the private and public sectors alike on cybersecurity risk management. In this post we summarize the highlights of each of these new NIST publications.
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.
On March 2, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced its first data security enforcement action in the form of a Consent Order with online payment platform Dwolla, Inc. The 5 year Consent Order is based on CFPB allegations that Dwolla engaged in deceptive acts and practices by misrepresenting to consumers that it had “reasonable and appropriate data security practices.” Dwolla neither admitted nor denied that it engaged in data security misrepresentations. The CFPB fined Dwolla $100,000, enjoined it from making further misrepresentations, and is requiring that it develop a written, comprehensive data security program, designate a person responsible for the program, provide employee training, conduct risk assessments, and undergo independent third party audits annually, among other things. The CFPB also places primary responsibility for compliance with the Consent Order on Dwolla’s board of directors.
The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 provides limited liability protection and information disclosure protections for private-to-private and private-to-government cybersecurity information sharing. On February 16, 2016, two key U.S. agencies released a set of documents describing how CISA’s provisions are expected to work in practice.
The passage of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 is proving to be just the beginning of a national focus and call for a “bold reassessment of the way we approach security in the digital age” in order to not only combat evolving cyber threats but also to cultivate an environment for a continually evolving digital age with boundless opportunities for the American economy. On February 9, 2016, the President directed his Administration to implement a Cybersecurity National Action Plan designed to do just that.
Last month, tucked into a 2,000-page spending bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) was enacted into law. Years in the making, CISA is intended to incentivize organizations to share cyber threat indicators with the federal government and to promote the dissemination of this information to organizations facing similar threats. The spending bill included a number of other cybersecurity provisions covering topics ranging from federal preparedness to foreign policy strategy. Most notably, the bill directs the Department of Health and Human Services to develop cybersecurity best practices for organizations in the healthcare industry. The bill also directs federal agencies to create new plans to fortify federal information systems and identify cyber-related gaps in the federal workforce.
Recent developments in the United States suggest that cybersecurity of the maritime sector will come under increasing focus in 2016. On December 16, 2015, H.R. 3878, “Strengthening Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Coordination in Our Ports Act of 2015,” passed the House of Representatives. The Bill’s language echoes and expands upon recommendations made by the General Accountability Audit in its June 5, 2014 study Maritime Port Cybersecurity. It also reflects congressional focus on enabling cybersecurity information sharing as seen in the recent passage of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act.