Articles Posted in Cybersecurity and Privacy


Effective March 1, 2017, first-in-kind regulations issued by the New York Department of Financial Services (New York DFS) will begin to affect a wide array of both depository and non-depository financial institutions. The new regulations will cascade certain requirements upon these financial institutions’ third-party service providers, requiring the financial institutions to take a close look at their vendor relationships.

Who Is Covered?

The new regulations will specifically apply to “Covered Entities,” meaning any financial services firm that operates (or is required to operate) under a “license, registration, charter, certificate, permit, accreditation or similar authorization” by the New York DFS. Just to name a few, this includes banks, credit unions, insurance companies, licensed lenders and loan servicers, money transmitters, and even those operating under New York’s new virtual currency license.


The UK’s financial services regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has recently published summaries of the responses it received to a Call for Inputs (CfI) on the use of big data in the retail general insurance (GI) sector as well as outlining its responses to the issues raised. Insurance companies, which are increasingly using big data (gleaned from social media, loyalty cards, aggregator sites and other such sources) to determine risk profiles and set premiums, can rest a little easier given that the FCA says that it has decided not to undertake a full market study or make a reference to the Competition and Markets Authority.

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As stated by Wired, “It’s all the standard advice you’d give a tech novice,” aptly sums up the White House’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan (CNAP) that President Obama unveiled on February 9, 2016. Announced as part of the President’s overall budget proposal, CNAP is a plea within the federal government to implement a sturdier foundation for its cybersecurity strategy. The administration proposes a 35% increase in cybersecurity funding, much of which would go toward creating programs that are intended to leverage private sector expertise to improve the woefully outdated, if not completely nonexistent, federal government cybersecurity infrastructure.

Among other initiatives, CNAP includes an awareness campaign targeted at personal-level cybersecurity habits, a joint government-private sector commission for compiling cybersecurity best practices, and incentives to entice private sector talent to enlist in the government’s ranks. Although these programs anticipate private sector involvement, they are rooted in the government’s pressing concern about its own vulnerabilities to cyberattacks. The standard refrain is that CNAP seeks to raise the level of cybersecurity for the government and the private sector, but the rhetoric around the announcement belies an overwhelming focus on federal government advancement that will likely have little impact on private sector progress, if the program is implemented at all.

Citizens’ Awareness Campaign


Retirement plan sponsors face ever-evolving cyber-related threats to plan assets and participant personal information. To combat such threats, plan sponsors should proactively assess the third-party service providers’ ability to detect, prevent and respond to cyberattacks against the retirement plan. In order to minimize a retirement plan’s overall cyber risk profile, its sponsor(s) must implement a cyber risk management strategy, including focusing on evaluating its third-party service providers’ cybersecurity programs, performing periodic assessments of such programs, and ensuring that the retirement plan has mitigated risks from losses in the event of a cyberattack.

This advisory is the first in a series of advisories dedicated to understanding cybersecurity issues affecting retirement plans.

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This blog is the second part of a two-part series on key contracting issues with technology service providers, and the focus is specifically geared toward companies doing business in the real estate industry.

As noted in Part 1, technology has infused every sector of society, and the real estate business is no different. Firms running large, complex real estate projects typically do not have the core competency to design, develop, implement, host, and/or maintain the technology applications and systems to run these innovative ideas, which is why these firms typically partner with third party technology service providers to design, develop, and implement their technology needs.

Entering into these partnerships with third party technology providers can come with risk and requires a contracting strategy. In Part 1, I discussed the issues of pricing and service performance. In this Part 2 below, I discuss data protection, infringement, and insurance.


Managed security services are often a natural “add-on” when outsourcing IT services given that data protection is integral to application development, software as a service, and cloud storage, among other services. More recently, managed security services has become a “niche” sourcing alternative that many companies are considering as they seek to leverage supplier’s expertise in cyber threat assessment, detection and response. One critical consideration to keep in mind prior to outsourcing your cybersecurity is that you cannot outsource your regulatory responsibilities. In a sense, you may hire a supplier to protect your and your clients’ data and cyber infrastructure to the degree required of your organization under the law, but if those legal standards are not met by the supplier, your organization remains liable.

Under U.S. laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), executive orders and state-specific regulations, or the UK Data Protection Act, you may outsource day-to-day information management; you may not outsource your regulatory liability. If a breach occurs, your organization must notify your own clients, state Attorneys General and federal agencies, as applicable. Enforcement actions may be taken against your organization based on violation by a supplier, regardless of your organization’s knowledge, involvement, or lack thereof. For example, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a relatively new federal agency formed in 2011 under The Dodd-Frank Act, explicitly targets its enforcement powers at the conduct of both financial institutions and their service providers.

As of 2012, the CFPB announced that it expects “supervised banks and nonbanks to oversee their business relationships with service providers in a manner that ensures compliance with federal consumer financial law” and avoids harm to consumers. And what is one of the biggest risks of harm facing consumers in 2015? Loss or improper disclosure of consumers’ personal and financial data, which may occur over the Internet, via smart-devices and related applications, at merchant points of sale when making card payments, or even at the hands of a rogue employee within your organization or that of your supplier. If the CFPB investigates your organization, as a matter of course they will likely investigate your service provider(s), if any, and focus on areas of consumer data security and risk of identity fraud.


Computer Weekly recently published the article NHS The security concerns by Mike Pierides and Sarah Atkinson, Global Sourcing attorneys in Pillsbury’s London office. In the article, Pierides and Atkinson consider how England’s National Health Service is implementing a controversial programme to share patient data with the private sector, how the programme is intended to work, its legislative background, and the data security concerns that surround it.

Click here to read the full article


Be careful what you’ve promised your customers … or what has been promised about data you buy!

In today’s world, consumer data is a huge asset for companies across all industries, in particular those in technology-focused spaces like social media, apps, wearables, and retailers involved in e-commerce. The value of such data, however, is at least partly dependent on the extent to which the data can be transferred to third parties without restrictions on use. The ability of a company to sell or otherwise transfer its consumer data, whether in a merger, acquisition or otherwise, typically ties back directly to statements made in the company’s privacy policy. As illustrated by RadioShack’s recent bankruptcy sale, the latest in a series of high-profile examples over the years on this topic, promising not to share consumer information can create a significant obstacle for future asset sale transactions.

For more information, check out our Client Alert.


As more and more companies of all sizes ranging across a wide spectrum of industries have been exposed to network and data security breaches in recent years, the market for insurance products dedicated to cover cyber risks has grown just as fast. With policies sold under names like “cyberinsurance,” “privacy breach insurance,” “media liability insurance” and “network security insurance,” the market for this coverage often seems chaotic, with premiums and terms varying dramatically from one insurer to the next.

For more information, please read our Client Alert.


Part 2: How are Limits of Liability Evolving, with Respect to the Issue of Data Breaches?

Ten years ago, most “buyers/customers” expected their suppliers to absorb unlimited contractual liability if the supplier was responsible for a breach affecting the customer’s data. Today, while customers may continue to insist upon such a position at the beginning of negotiations, they frequently expect that market-leading suppliers will ask for some sort of limit to the supplier’s potential liability for data breaches.

When customers are forced to negotiate a liability cap applicable to breaches of data (including PII and PHI), they usually insist that such liability cap be an amount that is greater than the “standard” limit of liability under the Agreement (i.e., greater than the standard financial cap applicable other contract breaches).