Yesterday, organizations around the world were hit by yet another ransomware attack.  Similar to the recent WannaCry attacks, the Petya attack works to encrypt documents and files and subsequently demands a ransom to unlock them.  Unlike WannaCry, it is believed that the Petya attack spreads internally through an organization (rather than across the Internet) using

On June 13, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security published an alert regarding malicious cyber activity by the North Korean government, known as Hidden Cobra.  Per the DHS and FBI, Hidden Cobra uses cyber operations to the government and military’s advantage by exfiltrating data and causing disruptive cyber intrusions.  Potential impacts of a Hidden Cobra

The 2017 edition of The Legal 500 United States recommends Seyfarth Shaw’s Global Privacy & Security Team as one of the best in the country for Cyber Law (including data protection and privacy). In addition, based on feedback from corporate counsel, the co-chairs of Seyfarth’s group, Scott A. Carlson and John P. Tomaszewski, and

On May 11, President Trump signed Executive Order (EO) on Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure. This is a significant development for U.S. cybersecurity as it represents a concrete call to action for the government to modernize its information technology, beef up its cybersecurity capabilities, protect our country’s critical infrastructure from

Recently, a widespread global ransomware attack has struck hospitals, communication, and other types of companies and government offices around the world, seizing control of affected computers until the victims pay a ransom.  This widespread ransomware campaign has affected various organizations with reports of tens of thousands of infections in as many as 99 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, France, and Japan.  The software can run in as many as 27 different languages.  The latest version of this ransomware variant, known as WannaCryWCry, or Wanna Decryptor, was discovered the morning of May 12, 2017, by an independent security researcher and has spread rapidly.

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shutterstock_506771554Another week, another well-concocted phishing scam.  The most recent fraudulent activity targeted businesses that use Workday, though this is not a breach or vulnerability in Workday itself.  Specifically, the attack involves a well-crafted spam email that is sent to employees purporting to be from the CFO, CEO, or Head of HR or similar.   Sometimes the

On January 5, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sued for permanent injunction a Taiwan-based computer networking equipment manufacturer D-Link Corporation and its U.S. subsidiary, alleging that D-Link’s inadequate security measures left its wireless routers and IP cameras used to monitor private areas of homes and businesses vulnerable to hackers, thereby compromising U.S. consumers’ privacy.

In the complaint filed in the Northern District of California, Federal Trade Commission v. D-Link Systems Corp. et al., Case Number 3:17cv39, the FTC alleged that D-Link failed to take reasonable steps to secure its routers and Internet Protocol (IP) cameras, potentially compromising sensitive consumer information, including live video and audio feeds from D-Link IP cameras. The FTC’s allegation of consumer injury is limited to the statement that due to the lack of security, consumers “are likely to suffer substantial injury” and that, unless stopped by an injunction, D-Link is “likely to injure consumers and harm the public interest.”

In seeking the requested relief, the FTC is relying on its powers under Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. § 45(a). The FTC’s Section 5 powers have largely gone unchallenged by companies subject to enforcement action until Wyndham hotels, which came under investigation after it suffered a series of data breaches, tried to curtail the FTC’s jurisdiction in 2015. That challenge failed when the Third Circuit held that the FTC did, in fact, have the authority to regulate cybersecurity practices under the unfairness prong of Section 5 of the FTC Act.


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Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR), has announced a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) civil money penalty of $3,217,000.00 against Children’s Medical Center of Dallas (Children’s), a pediatric hospital that is part of Children’s Health, the seventh largest pediatric health care provider in the nation. OCR based this penalty on its finding that Children’s failed to comply with HIPAA Security Rule over many years and that Children’s impermissibly disclosed unsecured electronic protected health information (ePHI) when it suffered two data breaches that were reportable to OCR.

The Breaches

  • On January 18, 2010, Children’s reported to OCR the loss of an unencrypted, non-password protected BlackBerry device at an airport on November 19, 2009. The device contained the ePHI of approximately 3,800 individuals.
  • On July 5, 2013, Children’s reported to OCR the theft of an unencrypted laptop from its premises sometime between April 4 and April 9, 2013. The device contained the ePHI of approximately 2,462 individuals.

Because Children’s devices were unencrypted, Children’s was obligated to report their loss, along with the unsecured ePHI they contained, to the HHS. Had Children’s devices been encrypted, it could have taken advantage of the “safe harbor” rule, pursuant to which covered entities and business associates are not required to report a breach of information that is not “unsecured.”

The Investigation

  • OCR’s investigation revealed that, in violation of HIPAA Rules, Children’s (1) failed to implement risk management plans, contrary to prior external recommendations to do so, and (2) knowingly and over the course of several years, failed to encrypt, or alternatively protect, all of its laptops, work stations, mobile devices, and removable storage media.
    • OCR’s investigation established that Children’s knew about the risk of maintaining unencrypted ePHI on its devices as far back as 2007.
    • Despite this knowledge, Children’s issued unencrypted BlackBerry devices to nurses and allowed its workforce members to continue using unencrypted laptops and other mobile devices until 2013.

The Takeaways
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President Trump is expected to sign soon Executive Order on Strengthening U.S. Cyber Security and Capabilities.   Reports about a “leaked draft” of the Executive Order on Cybersecurity surfaced on the Internet a few days ago, along with predictions that the Order will be signed on January 31.  The Order is yet to be signed and the publicized draft may undergo some changes.  The available draft orders three reviews:

  • Review of Cyber Vulnerabilities, which asks, within 60 days of the date of the Order, for a report of initial recommendations for the enhanced protection of the most critical civilian Federal Government, public, and private sector infrastructure.
  • Review of Cyber Adversaries, which asks, within 60 days of the date of the Order, for a first report on the identities, capabilities, and vulnerabilities of the principal U.S. cyber adversaries.
  • U.S. Cyber Capabilities Review, which asks for identification of an initial set of capabilities needing improvement to adequately protect U.S. critical infrastructure, based on the results of the other two Reviews.  As part of this review, the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Homeland Security are directed to gather and review information from the Department of Education “regarding computer science, mathematics, and cyber security education from primary through higher education to understand the full scope of U.S. efforts to educate and train the workforce of the future.”  The Secretary of Defense is also directed to make recommendations “in order to best position the U.S. educational system to maintain its competitive advantage into the future.”


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A Finnish web developer discovered that “autofill profiles” now offered  on certain browsers provides hackers with a new phishing vector.  Autofill profiles allow users to create a profile containing preset personal information that they might usually enter on web forms.  When a user fills in information for some simple text boxes, the autofill system will input other profile-based information into any other text boxes on the page, even when they are not visible on the page to the user and, from there, the hacker harvests additional autofilled personal information without the user’s knowledge.

Autofill profiles are not to be confused with form field autofilling behavior, which allows the user to fill in one form field at a time with data previously entered in those fields, while autofill profiles in browsers enable users to fill in an entire web form with one click.  
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