The fallout from the Yahoo data breaches continues to illustrate how cyberattacks thrust companies into the competing roles of crime victim, regulatory enforcement target and civil litigant.

Yahoo, which is now known as Altaba, recently became the first public company to be fined ($35 million) by the Securities and Exchange Commission for filing statements that failed to disclose known data breaches. This is on top of the $80 million federal securities class action settlement that Yahoo reached in March 2018—the first of its kind based on a cyberattack. Shareholder derivative actions remain pending in state courts, and consumer data breach class actions have survived initial motions to dismiss and remain consolidated in California for pre-trial proceedings. At the other end of the spectrum, a federal judge has balked at the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request that a hacker-for-hire indicted in the Yahoo attacks be sentenced to eight years in prison for a digital crime spree that dates back to 2010. Continue Reading The Hacked & the Hacker-for-Hire: Lessons from the Yahoo Data Breaches (So Far)

Plaintiff lawyers’ continued search for damage theories to assert in claims arising from a data breach – or fear of a breach – received a potential setback this week when Chief Judge Michael Reagan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois permitted Fiat Chrysler and Harmon International to seek an interlocutory appeal of the court’s earlier ruling in Flynn v. Fiat Chrysler US that class plaintiffs had standing to bring their “car hacking” claims in federal court.  The ruling comes just one month before the scheduled start of trial. Fiat Chrysler and Harmon moved for an appeal after the Ninth Circuit ruled in a similar case, Cahen v. Toyota Motor Corp, that plaintiffs did not have standing to pursue diminution in value damages against Toyota based on a fear that the vehicles were susceptible to hacking.   Continue Reading Fiat Chrysler Car Hacking Case Put In Neutral

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

Consumers are not the only ones suing retailers for payment card data breaches. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington recently denied, in large part, a motion to dismiss a data breach class action brought by Veridian Credit Union, on behalf of itself and other financial institutions, against Eddie Bauer, LLC. The class action relates to a January 2016 payment card data breach that allegedly impacted “every Eddie Bauer store in the United States and Canada.”

The court dismissed Veridian’s negligence per se claim, but allowed Veridian’s negligence and state statutory claims to proceed. The court’s analysis of choice of law and negligence issues is worth a read. Continue Reading Federal Court Allows Credit Union Data Breach Class Action to Proceed Against Eddie Bauer