Setting up that new IoT device you received for Christmas? Maybe you’ve been derelict in feeding the dog and found a smart dog feeder under the tree, one that will alert you that Luna has been fed or that you have to refill the feeder. Smart gizmos are not just for the home, approximately 25% of businesses use Internet of Things (IoT) technology, a figure only expected to grow substantially. With that growth will be new and varied applications for IoT technology, along with a need to understand the different kinds of risks it presents. Earlier this month, on December 4, 2020, President Trump signed the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 (Act). The Act is directed at federal agencies, but is likely to have a significant impact in the private sector as well.

Passed by the House in September 2020, the Act mandates a cybersecurity framework be created for the appropriate use and management by federal agencies of IoT devices owned or controlled by an agency and connected to information systems owned or controlled by an agency. Perhaps that most notable provision of the Act is for contractors of federal agencies and their subcontractors – effective two years from enactment, December 5, 2022, and subject to limited opportunities for a waiver, federal agencies will be:

prohibited from procuring or obtaining, renewing a contract to procure or obtain, or using an Internet of Things device, if the Chief Information Officer of that agency determines during a review required by section 11319(b)(1)(C) of title 40, United States Code, of a contract for such device that the use of such device prevents compliance with the standards and guidelines developed under [the Act].

What are the Standards and Guidelines to be Developed under the Act?

Within 90 days following enactment, the Act requires the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop and publish standards and guidelines on the appropriate use and management by federal agencies of IoT devices they own or control and which are connected to information systems they own or control. Along with bearing in mind standards, guidelines, and best practices developed by the private sector, agencies, and public-private partnerships, the Director also must consider the following for IoT devices:

  • Secure Development.
  • Identity management.
  • Patching.
  • Configuration management.

In addition, within 180 days following enactment, the Director must publish guidelines for reporting, coordinating, publishing, and receiving of information about security vulnerabilities relating to information systems owned or controlled by an agency (including IoT devices) and resolving those vulnerabilities. The Director also must provide guidance for contractors and subcontractors on receiving information on potential information system vulnerabilities and disseminating information about resolutions.

What Does This Mean for IoT Devices?

For federal contractors and subcontractors, it will mean closely tracking and incorporating published security standards and guidelines by NIST, as well as being prepared to receive and act on information about potential security vulnerabilities received from federal agencies concerning devices and systems, and disseminate information on resolutions for those vulnerabilities. However, the Act also may establish recognized best practices for IoT devices, resulting broader adoption in the private sector. In the meantime, NIST has already started developing the standards and guidelines that will flow from the Act.

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Photo of Joseph J. Lazzarotti Joseph J. Lazzarotti

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP)…

Joseph J. Lazzarotti is a principal in the Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He founded and currently co-leads the firm’s Privacy, Data and Cybersecurity practice group, edits the firm’s Privacy Blog, and is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP) with the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Trained as an employee benefits lawyer, focused on compliance, Joe also is a member of the firm’s Employee Benefits practice group.

In short, his practice focuses on the matrix of laws governing the privacy, security, and management of data, as well as the impact and regulation of social media. He also counsels companies on compliance, fiduciary, taxation, and administrative matters with respect to employee benefit plans.

Privacy and cybersecurity experience – Joe counsels multinational, national and regional companies in all industries on the broad array of laws, regulations, best practices, and preventive safeguards. The following are examples of areas of focus in his practice:

  • Advising health care providers, business associates, and group health plan sponsors concerning HIPAA/HITECH compliance, including risk assessments, policies and procedures, incident response plan development, vendor assessment and management programs, and training.
  • Coached hundreds of companies through the investigation, remediation, notification, and overall response to data breaches of all kinds – PHI, PII, payment card, etc.
  • Helping organizations address questions about the application, implementation, and overall compliance with European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and, in particular, its implications in the U.S., together with preparing for the California Consumer Privacy Act.
  • Working with organizations to develop and implement video, audio, and data-driven monitoring and surveillance programs. For instance, in the transportation and related industries, Joe has worked with numerous clients on fleet management programs involving the use of telematics, dash-cams, event data recorders (EDR), and related technologies. He also has advised many clients in the use of biometrics including with regard to consent, data security, and retention issues under BIPA and other laws.
  • Assisting clients with growing state data security mandates to safeguard personal information, including steering clients through detailed risk assessments and converting those assessments into practical “best practice” risk management solutions, including written information security programs (WISPs). Related work includes compliance advice concerning FTC Act, Regulation S-P, GLBA, and New York Reg. 500.
  • Advising clients about best practices for electronic communications, including in social media, as well as when communicating under a “bring your own device” (BYOD) or “company owned personally enabled device” (COPE) environment.
  • Conducting various levels of privacy and data security training for executives and employees
  • Supports organizations through mergers, acquisitions, and reorganizations with regard to the handling of employee and customer data, and the safeguarding of that data during the transaction.
  • Representing organizations in matters involving inquiries into privacy and data security compliance before federal and state agencies including the HHS Office of Civil Rights, Federal Trade Commission, and various state Attorneys General.

Benefits counseling experience – Joe’s work in the benefits counseling area covers many areas of employee benefits law. Below are some examples of that work:

  • As part of the Firm’s Health Care Reform Team, he advises employers and plan sponsors regarding the establishment, administration and operation of fully insured and self-funded health and welfare plans to comply with ERISA, IRC, ACA/PPACA, HIPAA, COBRA, ADA, GINA, and other related laws.
  • Guiding clients through the selection of plan service providers, along with negotiating service agreements with vendors to address plan compliance and operations, while leveraging data security experience to ensure plan data is safeguarded.
  • Counsels plan sponsors on day-to-day compliance and administrative issues affecting plans.
  • Assists in the design and drafting of benefit plan documents, including severance and fringe benefit plans.
  • Advises plan sponsors concerning employee benefit plan operation, administration and correcting errors in operation.

Joe speaks and writes regularly on current employee benefits and data privacy and cybersecurity topics and his work has been published in leading business and legal journals and media outlets, such as The Washington Post, Inside Counsel, Bloomberg, The National Law Journal, Financial Times, Business Insurance, HR Magazine and NPR, as well as the ABA Journal, The American Lawyer, Law360, Bender’s Labor and Employment Bulletin, the Australian Privacy Law Bulletin and the Privacy, and Data Security Law Journal.

Joe served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Laura Denvir Stith on the Missouri Court of Appeals.