On July 26, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) finalized a much anticipated rule addressing cybersecurity risk management, strategy, governance, and incident disclosure. Public companies registered with the SEC will soon be required to report material cybersecurity incidents within four business days of determining the incident to be material and to make periodic disclosures regarding cybersecurity risk management, strategy, and governance.
Recent enforcement actions and announcements show that state and federal regulators are continuing to focus intensely on cybersecurity and data protection. Notably, the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) recently issued the latest proposed amendments to its Cybersecurity Regulations. NYDFS also recently announced a $4.25 million cybersecurity consent order with OneMain Financial Group, LLC (“OneMain”). In addition, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently announced a settlement with genetic testing company 1Health.io (“1Health”).
New Proposed Amendments to NYDFS Cybersecurity Regulations
The NYDFS recently announced updated proposed amendments to its industry leading cybersecurity regulations. These latest amendments follow public comments on earlier proposed amendments circulated in November 2022. If adopted, companies regulated by NYDFS would face several new requirements, including the following:
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A recent consent order between the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) and cryptocurrency trading platform, bitFlyer USA (“bitFlyer”), shows that the NYDFS continues to utilize an aggressive enforcement posture with respect to cybersecurity for regulated financial services companies. Notably, the bitFlyer consent order and other recent consent orders demonstrate that NYDFS is no longer waiting for regulated entities to experience a cyber-attack before commencing an enforcement action, and, instead, is using routine examinations to uncover and prosecute companies for failing to comply with the NYDFS’s cybersecurity regulations.
In 2017, the NYDFS promulgated first-of-its-kind regulations establishing cybersecurity requirements for financial services companies. 23 NYCRR Part 500. These regulations were amended once and a proposed second amendment was published in late 2022, with final amendments expected to be adopted sometime later this year.
We have written on previous occasions about the rise in frequency and severity of Business Email Compromise (BEC) cyberattacks. As explained in other posts, BEC attacks are a type of phishing scam typically targeting companies in order to fraudulently direct payments of money to accounts associated with the attackers. Attackers typically target high-level executives or employees with access to financial systems. After the BEC attack, victims have typically had difficulty recovering the fraudulently misdirected funds, which are usually moved to offshore accounts very quickly.
However, a recent court decision in Virginia may have provided a roadmap for some BEC victims to seek compensation from the financial institutions that facilitate the fraudulent transfers of money. In Studco Bldg. Sys. US, LLC v. 1st Advantage Fed. Credit Union, WL 1926747 (2023), a United States District Court Judge held that one of the financial institutions involved in facilitating a BEC payment did not act in a commercially reasonable manner in allowing the transaction to take place. Because the financial institution acted negligently, the victim of the BEC was awarded a judgment of $558,868.71
On July 29, 2022, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) published the pre-proposed second amendment to its Cybersecurity Regulations, 23 NYCRR 500 (Part 500), that if adopted, would likely require numerous policy and operational changes. NYDFS sought comments to the pre-proposal through August 18, 2022. Although this amendment has been long-anticipated, the next step will be for NYDFS to formally publish the second amendment.
Effective in 2017, Part 500 was a first-of-its-kind state regulation that created mandatory cybersecurity and risk management regulations for “covered entities.” Part 500 defines Covered Entities as persons operating under or required to operate under a license, registration, charter, certificate, permit, accreditation or similar authorization under the Banking Law, the Insurance Law or the Financial Services Law.
On June 23, 2022, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced the entry of a Consent Order in connection with its most recent cybersecurity enforcement action, which included a $5 million monetary penalty against Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Costa Cruise Lines (“Carnival Companies”), for violations of NYDFS’s Cybersecurity Regulation, 23 NYCRR Part 500 (“Part 500”). In addition to the $5 million monetary penalty, the Carnival Companies also surrendered their insurance producer licenses and agreed to cease selling insurance to residents of New York.
According to the Consent Order, between 2019 and 2021, the Carnival Companies were the subject of four separate cybersecurity events, including ransomware and phishing attacks. All four of the cybersecurity events led to the exposure of nonpublic personal information (NPI) of both consumers and employees, including such information as names, addresses, birth dates, passport numbers, and in some instances, other sensitive information such as social security numbers and health information.