U.S. Department of Labor Issues Cybersecurity Guidance for ERISA-Covered Plans


There have been a rash of high-profile cyberattacks in the United States recently. Some of the more visible public attacks include SolarWinds, the Microsoft Exchange attack, Accellion, the Florida Water Treatment Plant and, more recently, the devastating cyber-attacks against Colonial Pipeline. These attacks, while disruptive, also yielded high-dollar payments to the cyber-threat actors.

ERISA-covered plans hold just under $10 trillion in assets and these plans are particularly enticing for cyber-threat actors. Although the Colonial Pipeline cyberattacks was executed by a coordinated hacking group, cyberattacks on ERISA-covered plans have historically been less complex. A typical scenario involves a retired employee’s ERISA account being accessed by an imposter, who then steals the account balance.

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Cybersecurity Responsibilities of a Plan Sponsor


Plan sponsors of retirement plans handle a lot personal participant data, but many are unaware of their fiduciary duties in the context of cybersecurity. If a retirement plan suffers a cyberattack, plan assets could be diverted and misused. Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), the plan sponsor could be held liable for a fiduciary breach for failure to satisfy a duty of loyalty and to act prudently.

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