Utah recently amended its breach notice law to provide certain defenses to companies who suffer a data breach.  It is now the second state, after Ohio, to include such provisions. Specifically, entities that create and reasonably comply with a written cybersecurity program may have an affirmative defense to litigation resulting after a data breach. For the safe harbor to apply, the written cybersecurity program must:
Continue Reading Utah Creates Data Breach Safe Harbor

Will HHS’ approach for imposing penalties in the aftermath of a data breach become a little clearer in 2021? This is a distinct possibility in the wake of a Fifth Circuit decision vacating penalties against MD Anderson Cancer Center. The hospital suffered three data breaches, leading HHS to impose over $4 million in civil penalties. That fine was reversed recently by the Fifth Circuit as arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law.
Continue Reading What Does the Fifth Circuit’s Vacating of HHS HIPAA Fines Mean for Companies This Year?

A class action lawsuit filed against PayPal in connection with a breach it suffered in 2017 was dismissed recently because the plaintiffs did not adequately allege PayPal’s intent to deceive investors.  The litigation began after PayPal’s acquired TIO Networks Corporation, a smaller payment processor and platform.  Post-acquisition, PayPal announced that it had discovered “security vulnerabilities” in TIO’s operations and it thus suspended TIO’s operations.  At that point, TIO had not yet been integrated into PayPal’s platform.  PayPal confirmed that it was investigating TIO’s security measures with the help of outside assistance, and that PayPal customers’ data remained secure.  PayPal further confirmed that it was not aware of any breach of personal information maintained by TIO.  The following month, however, PayPal announced that a breach of personal information had in fact occurred.  Confidential information belonging to 1.6 million customers had been potentially compromised, causing PayPal’s stock price to drop by 5.75%.
Continue Reading Successful Dismissal of PayPal Class Action Over Breach Disclosures Serves as Risks Reminder

Many supervisory authorities across Europe have reported increasing numbers of data breach notifications since the introduction of GDPR. While most companies are now familiar with the 72-hour reporting obligation for controllers to supervisory authorities, whether such obligation has been triggered continues to present unique and complex questions in each specific security event. To help aid companies sorting through these potential legal notification obligations in the aftermath of a security event, the EDPB recently released draft guidance, which is open for comment until 2 March 2021.
Continue Reading Companies Have Until March to Comment on EDPB Data Breach Notification Guidelines

The operator of CafePress, an online retailer that sells customizable mugs and other products, has reached an agreement with New York State Attorney General Letitia James and six other State Attorneys Generals to settle claims related to a 2019 data breach.  The breach stemmed from a cyberattack that the company suffered in early 2019. Upon learning of the attack, the company engaged a third-party investigation firm that identified a vulnerability in the company’s Structured Language Query (SQL) protocols. As a result, CafePress looked at its database and two weeks of logs but did not find evidence of any data breach.  Regardless, CafePress released a security patch to fix the vulnerability and automatically reset the passwords of all customer accounts, requiring all users to reset their passwords upon logging in.
Continue Reading New York and Others Settle with CafePress Over 2019 Data Breach

The FTC recently settled with Ascension Data & Analytics for failure to oversee service providers. Ascension provides services to mortgage companies within its corporate family of entities. According to the complaint, Ascension uses third parties to provide some of its services. One of those, OpticsML, had access to tax returns for approximately 60,000 customers. OpticsML stored the information on a cloud-based server which server was publicly accessible for a year. During that time the tax documents were accessed by unauthorized individuals. The originating IP addresses were in Russia and China.  Although the security incident was that of OpticsML, the FTC alleged that Ascension violated the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act’s Safeguards Rule. Namely, the company failed to properly oversee its service providers and it failed to adequately assess risk. In particular, the FTC alleged that:
Continue Reading FTC Settles Over Alleged Failure to Manage Service Providers

For the first time, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in Van Buren v. United States, No. 19-783. A federal circuit split exists on the issue of whether the statute can only be used against hackers and unauthorized users of electronic systems, or also against authorized users who use the information for unauthorized purposes. In the context of data breaches, companies sometimes look to interpretations of the meaning of “authorization” in CFAA cases to analyze whether notification obligations may exist.
Continue Reading SCOTUS Review of CFAA May Impact Analysis in Data Breach Notification Obligations

At the end of March, Washington, D.C. signed the Security Breach Protection Amendment Act of 2019, which adds some significant changes to D.C.’s existing data breach law, first enacted in 2007. The law is projected to take effect by June 13, 2020. Some of the major changes are summarized below.
Continue Reading D.C. Amends Data Breach Notification Law, Adds Security Requirements

During their COVID-19 preparations, companies are dusting off -and deploying- their business continuity plans. Also worth revisiting are incident response plans. Teams working remotely, if faced with a data breach, will still face privilege issues. For this reason simply moving to asynchronous forms of communication (email, chat, etc.) may not suffice, or may increase legal risk and exposure. Teams will thus need to be prepared for coming together virtually. Turning on the camera to converse remotely with video can be an impactful and important way to effectively handle a breach situation. To prepare, here are three key questions companies can consider:
Continue Reading Turn on the Camera Part Two: Are You Prepared to Handle a Breach Remotely and Do You Know Your Legal Security Obligations?