On April 20, 2022, the cybersecurity authorities of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—the so-called “Five Eye” governments—announced the publication of Alert AA22-110A, a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (the “Advisory”) warning critical infrastructure organizations throughout the world that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could expose them “to increased malicious cyber activity from Russian state-sponsored cyber actors or Russian-aligned cybercrime groups.”  The Advisory is intended to update a January 2022 Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, which provided an overview of Russian state-sponsored cyber operations and tactics, techniques, and procedures (“TTPs”).

In its announcement, the authorities urged critical infrastructure network defenders in particular “to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats by hardening their cyber defenses” as recommended in the Advisory.
Continue Reading International Cybersecurity Authorities Issue Joint Advisory on Russian Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure

On March 15, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2022, a $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package to fund the government through September 2022.  The omnibus spending package includes the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (the “Act”), which establishes two cyber incident reporting requirements for covered critical infrastructure entities:  a 24-hour requirement to report any ransomware payments to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) and a 72-hour requirement to report all covered cyber incidents to CISA.  These requirements will take effect upon the issuance of implementing regulations from the Director of CISA.
Continue Reading President Biden Signs Critical Infrastructure Ransomware Payment and Cyber Incident Reporting into Law

In early February, the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) announced the publication of a joint cybersecurity advisory observing “an increase in sophisticated, high-impact ransomware incidents against critical infrastructure organizations globally” during 2021.  The report—which was coauthored by cybersecurity authorities in the United States (CISA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency), Australia (the Australian Cyber Security Centre), and United Kingdom (the National Cyber Security Centre)—emphasizes that the continued evolution of ransomware tactics and techniques throughout the past year “demonstrates ransomware threat actors’ growing technological sophistication and an increased ransomware threat to organizations globally.”
Continue Reading CISA Issues Joint Cybersecurity Advisory on 2021 Ransomware Trends and Recommendations

On December 10th, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published a Statement of Regulatory Priorities that announced the agency’s intent to initiate rulemakings on issues such as privacy, security, algorithmic decision-making, and unfair methods of competition.
Continue Reading FTC Announces Regulatory Priorities for Both Privacy and Competition

On December 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) announced the publication of a warning for “critical infrastructure owners and operators to take immediate steps to strengthen their computer network defenses against potential malicious cyber attacks” before the upcoming holiday season.  CISA’s warning emphasizes that “[s]ophisticated threat actors . . . have demonstrated capabilities to compromise networks and develop long-term persistence mechanisms” and have “demonstrated capability to leverage this access for targeted operations against critical infrastructure with potential to disrupt National Critical Functions.”

CISA’s warning includes recommended actions for executives and senior leaders, additional recommended actions for organizations with operational technology (“OT”) and industrial control systems (“ICS”), recommendations for organizations that have experienced a cybersecurity incident, and a list of resources that organizations confronting cyber threats and evaluating cybersecurity best practices may find helpful.

Continue Reading CISA Warns Critical Infrastructure Owners and Operators to Prepare for and Take Steps to Mitigate Holiday Cyber Threats

On Episode 16 of Covington’s Inside Privacy Audiocast, Dan CooperYan Luo and Zhijing Yu discuss the implications of China’s Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) for companies with data or doing business in China. The law, which entered into force on November 1, is the first comprehensive personal information protection law in China and

This is the sixth in the series of Covington blogs on implementation of Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by President Biden on May 12, 2021 (the “Cyber EO”).  The first blog summarized the Cyber EO’s key provisions and timelines, and the second, third, fourth, and fifth blogs described the actions taken by various federal agencies to implement the EO during June, July, August, and September 2021, respectively.  This blog summarizes key actions taken to implement the Cyber EO during October 2021.

Although the recent developments this month are directly applicable to the U.S. Government, the standards being established for U.S. Government agencies could be adopted as industry standards for all organizations that develop or acquire software similar to various industries adopting the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a security controls baseline.
Continue Reading October 2021 Developments Under President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order

On September 21, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) issued an “Updated Advisory on Potential Sanctions Risks for Facilitating Ransomware Payments” (the “Updated Advisory”).  The Updated Advisory updates and supersedes an earlier OFAC Advisory released on October 1, 2020, and is directed toward not only organizations victimized by ransomware attacks, but also financial institutions, cyber insurance firms, and forensic and incident-response firms that assist organizations victimized by ransomware attacks.

The Updated Advisory is largely consistent with the previous version released in October 2020, restating the U.S. government’s opposition to ransomware victims making payments to cyber threat actors and making clear OFAC’s commitment to bringing enforcement actions in connection with such payments when they constitute U.S. sanctions violations.  However, the Updated Advisory adds important new guidance on “the proactive steps companies can take to mitigate [sanctions enforcement] risks,” including implementing strong cybersecurity practices before an attack; and promptly reporting a ransomware attack to, and engaging in timely and ongoing cooperation with, law enforcement or other relevant agencies.  Taking these steps would constitute “mitigating factors” in any OFAC enforcement action resulting from sanctions violations in connection with ransomware payments.

In conjunction with the new Advisory, OFAC for the first time designated for sanctions a Russian cryptocurrency exchange, SUEX OTC, that OFAC alleges has been involved in facilitating numerous ransomware payments for malicious cyber actors.  As a result of this designation, U.S. persons (that is, all individual U.S. citizens and permanent residents, U.S.-incorporated entities and their branch offices, and anyone physically within the United States) are now prohibited from engaging in or facilitating virtually all transactions with or involving SUEX OTC.

Continue Reading OFAC Issues Updated Guidance on Ransomware Payments

On Aug. 20, 2021, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress promulgated China’s Personal Information Protection Law, which will take effect Nov. 1, 2021. Serving as China’s first comprehensive law in the personal information protection area and based on China’s Constitution, the PIPL aims to “protect the rights and interests of individuals,” “regulate personal information processing activities,” and “facilitate reasonable use of personal information” (Article 1).
Continue Reading Analyzing China’s PIPL and How It Compares to the EU’s GDPR

On July 2 and July 5, 2021, China’s Cybersecurity Review Office (“CRO”), an office established under the Cyberspace Administration of China (“CAC”) responsible for coordinating the implementation of China’s Cybersecurity Review framework (more details about this framework can be found in our previous blogpost, available here), announced that it had initiated cybersecurity reviews against four mobile applications operated by three Chinese companies:  Didi Chuxing (“Didi”), Yunmanman, Huochebang and BOSS Zhipin (announcements are available here and here).

According to CRO’s announcements, these cybersecurity reviews were initiated based on requirements under the National Security Law (“NSL”), the Cybersecurity Law (“CSL”) and the Measures on Cybersecurity Review (“Measures”) and are aimed at “preventing national data security risks, maintaining national security and safeguarding public interests.”  This is the first time that CRO publically announced the initiation of cybersecurity reviews against companies after the Measures took effect on June 1, 2020.  Per the announcements, these apps are prohibited from registering new user accounts during the review period.

Separately, on July 4, CAC ordered the Didi app to be removed from Chinese app stores on the ground that the app seriously violated Chinese laws and regulations by “illegally collecting and using personal information” (the announcement is available here).  It is unclear whether this “take down” order is related to CRO’s ongoing cybersecurity review of Didi.

This post explains the requirements and procedures of cybersecurity review under the Measures, analyzes the focus of the current review against these three companies, and provides more background on recent enforcement actions against apps illegally collecting and processing personal information.
Continue Reading China Initiates Cybersecurity Review of Didi ChuXing and Three Other Chinese Mobile Applications