Archives: Written Information Security Program

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Is Personal Information of Retirement Plan Participants an ERISA Plan Asset?

A little more than one year ago, we reported on a settlement (Cassell et al. v. Vanderbilt University, et al.) involving the alleged wrongful use of personal information belonging to retirement plan participants, claimed to be “plan assets.” This year, similar claims have been made against Shell Oil Company in connection with its 401(k) plan. Retirement … Continue Reading

New Ransomware Tactics and Strains Emerge, Including Public Auctions of Stolen Data

As many have learned over the last several years, ransomware is a type of malware that denies affected users access to critical data by encrypting it. Attackers profit handsomely by requiring victims to pay substantial sums, typically tendered in a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. A look at some of the numbers over the past two … Continue Reading

Examples of COVID19 Screening, Social Distancing, and Contact Tracing Technologies and Related Legal and Practical Issues

As organizations work feverishly to return to business in many areas of the country, they are mobilizing to meet the myriad of challenges for providing safe environments for their workers, customers, students, patients, and visitors. Chief among these challenges are screening for COVID19 symptoms, observing social distancing, contact tracing, and wearing masks. Fortunately, innovators are … Continue Reading

UK and US Issue Joint Cybersecurity Alert Concerning Explosion of COVID-19 Phishing Attacks

In the US, many organizations anxiously awaiting assistance under the CARES Act are becoming the targets of cyberattackers looking to feed off of the massive relief being provided by the US treasury. Yesterday, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre … Continue Reading

Key Components of a COVID-19 Screening Program

Stopping the spread of coronavirus is critical to overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. As testing is ramping up around the country, some states and localities have imposed health screening requirements in an effort to identify persons at risk of being infected and stopping them from infecting others. Whether mandatory or recommended, screening employees and visitors could … Continue Reading

HIPAA Privacy Rule Waiver, Other Medical Information Questions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As the coronavirus spreads across the globe and in the United States, providers, businesses, employers, and others are struggling to understand what medical information they can collect and what information they can share. These are difficult questions the answers to which involve considering factors such as long-standing compliance requirements (e.g., HIPAA, ADA, GINA, state law), … Continue Reading

Work-From-Home Checklist During the Coronavirus Pandemic

The debate over working from home continues, reaching a high point in 2013 when Marissa Mayer, then CEO of Yahoo, sought to curb the practice. However, as the Coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S., more companies are instructing their employees to work-from-home as a social distancing technique to help contain the spread and remain … Continue Reading

New York SHIELD Act FAQs

Over the past few months, businesses across the country have been focused on the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which dramatically expands privacy rights for California residents and provides a strong incentive for businesses to implement reasonable safeguards to protect personal information. That focus is turning back east as the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic … Continue Reading

What Does Phishing Have to do with Coronavirus?

As announcements relaying the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue daily, governmental agencies at all levels are offering information and guidance, and businesses are scrambling to prepare and protect their employees and customers. As part of a larger group in my firm helping to synthesize all this information, there is an aspect of responding to COVID-19 … Continue Reading

New York Adopts New Data Security and Privacy Regulations for Schools and Their Vendors

We observed in a post on this blog that government agencies, businesses, hospitals, universities and school districts are frequent targets of data breaches that can affect millions of individuals.   Cyberattacks on school districts continue to appear in the news. In January, students in the Pittsburg Unified School District (California) were left without internet access as … Continue Reading

CCPA Data Breach Class Action Litigation Begins

As reported by Bloomberg Law, data breach class action litigation has begun under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Filed in the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, a putative class action lawsuit against Hanna Andersson, LLC and its ecommerce platform provider, Salesforce.com, alleges negligence and a failure to maintain reasonable safeguards, among other … Continue Reading

Privacy & Cybersecurity Issues to Watch in 2020

2020 may very well be the most impactful year for data privacy and cybersecurity in the United States. In honor of Data Privacy Day, we discuss some of the reasons why that may be the case. In short, as privacy and cybersecurity risks continue to emerge for organizations large and small, the law is beginning … Continue Reading

Websites: A Growing Compliance Concern – CCPA, HIPAA, Accessibility, State Laws…

Websites play a vital role for organizations. They facilitate communication with consumers, constituents, patients, employees, and the general public. They project an organization’s image and promote goodwill, provide information about products and services and allow for their purchase. Websites also inform investors about performance, enable job seekers to view and apply for open positions, and … Continue Reading

CCPA Is Here, and it Does Have Requirements for Employees, Applicants, etc.

Some business leaders and HR professionals may be waking up this morning not realizing they must provide a “Notice at Collection” to some or all of their employees and applicants under the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This is not surprising given the confusion during 2019 about whether this law would reach that far. The … Continue Reading

Personal Information, Private Information, Personally Identifiable Information…What’s the Difference?

When privacy geeks talk “privacy,” it is not uncommon for them to use certain terms interchangeably –personal data, personal information, personally identifiable information, private information, individually identifiable information, protected health information, or individually identifiable health information. They might even speak in acronyms – PI, PII, PHI, NPI, etc. Blurring those distinctions might be OK for … Continue Reading

10 Steps for Tackling Data Privacy and Security Laws in 2020 for In-House Counsel and HR Pros

After years of data breaches, mass data collection, identity theft crimes, and failed attempts at broad-based federal legislation, 2020 may be the year that state privacy and data security legislation begins to take hold in the U.S. For example, the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”) and the New York Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data … Continue Reading

Professional Tax Preparers – You Need A Written Information Security Plan, Says the IRS and FTC

Tax season soon will soon be upon us and many not-so-eager taxpayers will share sensitive personal information about themselves, their dependents, their employees, and others with their trusted professional tax preparers for processing. What many of these preparers might not realize is that federal law and a growing number of state laws obligate them to … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Governor Announces Cybersecurity Program

State and local governments have increasingly become targets of cybersecurity attacks. This year cybersecurity attacks on Baltimore and Lincoln County, North Carolina reportedly will cost those government entities $18.2 million and as much as $400,000, respectively to recover from the attacks. Last year, Atlanta spent more than $7 million to recover from a ransomware attack. … Continue Reading

US Senate Bill Passes, Seeking to Establish “Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams”

More than 500 United States schools (connected with 54 different education entities such as school districts and colleges) have been infected with ransomware during the first nine months of 2019, according to a recent report by cybersecurity firm Armor, making the education sector one of the leading ransomware targets, following only municipalities as the top … Continue Reading

CCPA Amendments Updated, Finalized, and Moving on to Governor Newsom

The California Consumer Privacy Act is almost here! The groundbreaking law takes effect January 1, 2020. Covered businesses and their service providers have already started preparing, as the CCPA continues to evolve since it was introduced. California’s legislative session ended on September 13th, with some final modifications to bills that would amend certain aspects of … Continue Reading

OCR Recognizes Insider Threats to HIPAA PHI, You Should Too

As we have observed here, news reports of security risks, hackings and breaches caused by individuals, terror groups or even countries around the world certainly are important and can be unsettling. But, for many organizations, including healthcare providers and business associates, a significant and perhaps more immediate area of data risk is malicious insiders. On … Continue Reading

Expansion of Technology at K-12 Schools Comes with Data Security Risks for Students and Parents

A new school year is upon us and some students are already back at school. Upon their return, many students may experience new technologies and equipment rolled out by their schools districts, such as online education resources, district-provided equipment, etc. to enhance the education they provide and improve district administration. However, a recent report, “The State … Continue Reading

Licensed by Your State’s Insurance Commissioner? Comprehensive Data Security Requirements Are Headed Your Way

Most businesses in the insurance industry have one thing in common – they collect and maintain significant amounts of sensitive, nonpublic information including personal information. Not surprisingly, insurance-related businesses are a target of cyberattacks and a few have faced some of the largest data breaches reported to date. Beyond the headlines, however, small and mid-sized … Continue Reading

Is Your Small Business Prioritizing Cybersecurity?

A recent study surveying small and mid sized businesses (SMBs) found that 67% had experienced a cyber attack in 2018, and yet that same study found that cybersecurity is still “not on the to do list” for SMBs – 60% of the SMBs surveyed responded that they did not have a cybersecurity plan in place, … Continue Reading
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