Federal Legislation Considers Banning Ransom Payments to Hackers

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The year 2021 continues to reveal an alarming rise in ransomware attacks. Two of the most notable of such attacks include the ransomware attack on CNA Financial Corp., with resulting payment of $40 million in ransom, and the attack on Colonial Pipeline Co., with a ransom payment of $4.4 million.

With these two recent ransomware attacks—and subsequent payments—receiving massive publicity, congressional law makers have begun to question whether ransom payments should be permitted or remain legal, or if federal law makers should step in to prohibit such ransom payments as a means to curtail these forms of attacks. Although no bill taking that approach has been introduced yet, recent discussions of such a law have given rise to debate on the issue.

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Faegre Drinker on Law and Technology Podcast: What Brexit Means for Law, Technology and Your Data

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Earlier this year — and five years after the Brexit referendum — the U.K. officially left the EU, giving rise to a new era of international commerce. As businesses work to adapt to this new paradigm, one question should not be overlooked: how does Brexit impact the international movement of data? In the first international episode of the Faegre Drinker on Law and Technology Podcast, host Jason G. Weiss talks with Faegre Drinker’s Huw Beverley-Smith and Jonathon Gunn about the data protection and privacy implications of life after Brexit.

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“Zero Trust Architecture” Is Officially Here: NIST Publishes New Cybersecurity Framework

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The National Institute of Standards and Technology, commonly referred to as NIST, recently published a new computer framework for users to consider as a cyber-framework security model — the Zero Trust Architecture Model (ZTA). This new model was officially published in NIST SP 800-207 in late 2020.

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New Bill Proposes that Americans Should Be Able to Sue Foreign Hackers

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The Homeland and Cyber Threat Act (HACT) was introduced in the U.S. House on March 12, 2021. This bill would allow U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments, agents and officials and to collect monetary damages for personal injury, damage or loss of property resulting from a cyberattack with foreign origins.

This bipartisan bill was introduced because cybersecurity activity and cyber incidents continue to rise, leading to increasing concerns of data security. Rep. Bergman, R-MI, a key sponsor of both this bill and a similar bill introduced in 2019, describes HACT as a tool of accountability for foreign states. The other bill sponsors (Reps. Allred, D-TX; Fitzpatrick, R-PA; Herrera Beutler, R-WA; Neguse, D-CO; and Kim, D-NJ) echo this theme of accountability and point to HACT as a way for Americans to “fight back against foreign cyberattacks.”

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Disruptionware VI: Cyber-Attack against Colonial Pipeline Illustrates Continued Vulnerability of American Energy and Infrastructure Targets

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Disruptionware attacks have become increasingly more common over the last few months. Just last month, I wrote about a dangerous disruptionware attack against a Florida Water Treatment Center that could have been a mass casualty event. For more information on these types of attacks, please refer to our posts on different types of disruptionware attacks and how disruptionware attacks work.

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New York Department of Financial Services Issues Report on SolarWinds Cyberattack

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On April 15, 2021, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) issued a report on the recent SolarWinds cyberattack. A copy of the report is available here. NYDFS called the attack a “wake-up call” to regulated financial institutions and insurers that should cause them to immediately assess and, if necessary, improve their own cybersecurity posture in order to avoid victimization in future attacks.

NYDFS characterized the SolarWinds attack as a “widespread, sophisticated espionage campaign” by Russian foreign intelligence actors that resulted in “the most visible, widespread, and intrusive information technology supply chain attack” successfully completed to date. According to the report, the attack opened back doors into thousands of organizations around the United States and involved the theft of sensitive data from over 100 private sector companies, as well as at least nine federal agencies. NYDFS noted ominously that the attack highlighted the obvious “vulnerability to supply chain attacks” within the financial services industry.

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