South Dakota (site of Ballard’s newest office) has become the 49th State to enact a data breach notification law.  South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard signed SB 62 into law on March 21, 2018.  The law will take effect on July 1, 2018.

As with similar measures pending in other state legislatures, SB 62 was introduced in the South Dakota Senate on January 9, 2018, in the wake of the disclosures relating to the Equifax breaches. The law generally mirrors those of many other states, but includes a few new wrinkles. Continue Reading South Dakota Enacts Data Breach Notification Law

Mossack Fonseca, the beleaguered law firm at the center of the international Panama Papers scandal, has announced that it is closing its doors.  The firm cited “reputational deterioration” that has caused “irreversible damage.”

Founded in 1977 by Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, Mossack Fonseca had been perched at the top of offshore legal services providers until April 2016, when it became ground zero for a global controversy because approximately 11.5 million of the firm’s internal legal and financial documents were leaked to the media. These leaked documents – publicized primarily by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (“ICIJ”) – allegedly reveal a global system of undisclosed offshore accounts, money laundering and tax evasion, and how the rich and powerful around the world use shell companies to conceal assets and possible illegal activity.

The incident is the largest publicly disclosed data breach involving a law firm. Following the April 2016 publication of data, founding partner Ramon Fonseca and other public sources claimed that the firm’s network had been compromised by hackers sometime in 2015.  Security researchers and other public sources identified numerous unpatched vulnerabilities in Mossack’s website and email server, which could have been very easily compromised by hackers. Approximately 2.6 terabytes of data – including 4.8 million emails, 3 million database files, and 2.1 million.pdf files – were leaked, including client documents dating back to the 1970s.  Approximately one year after the alleged data theft, ICIJ published the Mossack data and set off numerous investigations into the firm and its clients. Continue Reading “Panama Papers” Law Firm Announces Its Closure Due to Fallout from Massive Data Breach

On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the release of Interpretive Guidance relating to public company disclosures of cybersecurity risks and incidents. This guidance replaces staff guidance from the Division of Corporate Finance issued way back in October 2011 – on the same day that iPhone 4 was released.

Although the Commission voted unanimously to release it, some Commissioners do not view the new guidance as going much beyond the 2011 staff guidance. In fact, Commissioner Kara Stein wondered whether the new guidance would cause public companies to step up their cybersecurity disclosures – or “will law firms simply produce a host of client alerts reaffirming their alerts from years past.” We sense a challenge. Continue Reading SEC Releases Guidance on Public Company Cybersecurity Disclosures

As we were the first in the nation to report, in January, Colorado lawmakers proposed legislation that would significantly change the way in which entities operating in Colorado must protect confidential information and disclose breaches involving same.

Last week, the bill’s sponsors submitted an amended bill that revises a number of key provisions. Among other changes, the amended bill would require entities to notify Colorado residents within 30 days of discovery of a data breach.  If enacted, Colorado would have the shortest time frame for disclosure in the country. Continue Reading Colorado Legislature Continues to Push Privacy and Data Security Legislation in Wake of Equifax

The SEC Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) has announced its 2018 examination priorities. Unsurprisingly, cybersecurity remains among the key priorities. OCIE has included cybersecurity as an examination topic since at least 2014.

OCIE released its 2018 priorities to “improve compliance, prevent fraud, monitor risk, and inform policy.” OCIE conducts the SEC’s National Exam Program (NEP), whose mission is to protect investors, ensure market integrity and support responsible capital formation through risk-focused strategies that: (1) improve compliance; (2) prevent fraud; (3) monitor risk; and (4) inform policy. The results of the NEP’s examinations are used by the SEC to inform rulemaking initiatives, identify and monitor risks, improve industry practices and pursue misconduct. OCIE is responsible for conducting examinations of broker-dealers, investment advisers, transfer agents, and other SEC-regulated entities. Continue Reading SEC Continues to List Cybersecurity Among OCIE Examination Priorities

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has unveiled a new, “easier and more efficient” way to notify her office of data breaches. The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has created an online portal and web form for submitting data breach notifications.  An email announcing the changes was transmitted this week to attorneys who have previously filed data breach notices on behalf of clients. The email requested our “assistance in passing the message along,” which we are hereby doing.

Attorney General Healey stated, “This new feature allows businesses to more efficiently report data breaches so we can take action and share information with the public.”  The Attorney General Office’s website will soon include a publicly accessible database of data breaches reported to the Office. Other states, including California and Maryland, have similar public databases.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Attorney General Launches Online Data Breach Reporting Portal

The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Foundation recently completed its second State of Cybersecurity Report, which solicits feedback from hundreds of Chief Legal Officers and other in-house counsel worldwide on a wide range of cybersecurity issues, including cyber insurance, vendor management, and incident response.

Ballard Spahr is pleased to have served as the sponsor for the Report (Ballard also sponsored the first ACC Foundation State of Cybersecurity Report, published in 2016). Continue Reading Coming Soon: The ACC Foundation’s 2018 State of Cybersecurity Report

Add South Dakota (site of Ballard’s newest office) and North Carolina to the list of states considering new data security legislation. South Dakota is poised to become the 49th state to enact a data breach notification law, while North Carolina is considering a very significant expansion of its existing law.

Will South Dakota Become No. 49?

The South Dakota Senate passed SB 62 on January 25, 2018. The bill, which now heads to the South Dakota House of Representatives, generally would require an “information holder” to notify South Dakota residents of any “breach of system security” involving their “personal or protected information.” Subject to certain exceptions, notification to South Dakota residents must be made “not later than sixty days from the discovery or notification of the breach of system security.” The South Dakota Attorney General and “all consumer reporting agencies as defined in 15 U.S.C. § 1681a” also must be notified of breaches involving more than 250 South Dakota residents. Notification to South Dakota residents is not required “if following appropriate investigation and notice to the attorney general, the information holder reasonably determines that the breach will not likely result in harm to the affected person.” Continue Reading South Dakota and North Carolina Consider New Data Security Legislation

A bipartisan group of Colorado legislators proposed legislation that, if enacted, would significantly change the requirements for how Colorado entities protect, transfer, secure, and dispose of documents containing personal identifying information. The proposed legislation also would expand the types of information covered by the Colorado Breach Notification Law and add additional requirements for companies that have suffered a data breach, such as a 45-day deadline to provide notice to affected individuals. Click here for a discussion of the proposed legislation.

Last week, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) released its semiannual risk report highlighting credit, operational, and compliance risks to the federal banking system. The report focuses on issues that pose threats to those financial institutions regulated by the OCC and is intended to be used as a resource by those financial institutions to address the key concerns identified by the OCC. Specifically, the OCC placed cybersecurity and anti-money laundering (AML) issues among the three top concerns highlighted in the report.

The OCC called for banks to remain vigilant against the operational risks that arise from efforts to adapt business models, transform technology and operating processes, and respond to increasing cybersecurity threats. The OCC stated that: Continue Reading OCC Report Identifies Cybersecurity as Key Risk for Federal Banking System