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

On May 12, the Biden Administration issued an “Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity.”  The Order seeks to strengthen the federal government’s ability to respond to and prevent cybersecurity threats, including by modernizing federal networks, enhancing the federal government’s software supply chain security, implementing enhanced cybersecurity practices and procedures in the federal government, and creating government-wide plans for incident response.  The Order covers a wide array of issues and processes, setting numerous deadlines for recommendations and actions by federal agencies, and focusing on enhancing the protection of federal networks in partnership with the service providers on which federal agencies rely.  Private sector entities, including federal contractors and service providers, will have opportunities to provide input to some of these actions.
Continue Reading President Biden Signs Executive Order Aimed at Improving Government Cybersecurity

On December 16, 2020, the German Federal Government passed a draft law that substantially amends some of Germany’s information technology laws (“IT laws”). These amendments aim to adapt the current legal framework to the increasing digitalization of products and services, the proliferation of IoT products, and the appearance of new cybersecurity threats. The draft law is expected to be enacted in the German Parliament in the first quarter of 2021.

Continue Reading German Federal Government Passes Draft Law Amending Germany’s Information Technology Laws

In addition to releasing the new EU Cybersecurity Strategy before the holidays (see our post here), the Commission published a revised Directive on measures for high common level of cybersecurity across the Union (“NIS2”) and a Directive on the resilience of critical entities (“Critical Entities Resilience Directive”). In this blog post, we summarize key points relating to NIS2, including more onerous security and incident reporting requirements; extending requirements to companies in the food, pharma, medical device, and chemical sectors, among others; and increased powers for regulators, including the ability to impose multi-million Euro fines.

The Commission is seeking feedback on NIS2 and the Critical Entities Resilience Directive, and recently extended its original deadline of early February to March 11, 2021 (responses can be submitted here and here).


Continue Reading Proposed New EU Cyber Rules Introduce More Onerous Requirements and Extend to More Sectors

Last year, Californians passed proposition 24, also known as the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”). That law makes several changes to the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), including some that relate to an organization’s cybersecurity practices.
Continue Reading Four Key Cyber Takeaways from The CPRA

On December 22, 2020, the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (“ENISA”) published a draft scheme for cloud services (see press release here and scheme here). Cloud services that meet the security requirements of the scheme will be able to obtain a certification attesting their level of cybersecurity. The draft scheme is available for public consultation until February 7, 2021.

Continue Reading The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity Publishes a Draft Certification Scheme for Cloud Services

On Friday, December 4, 2020, President Trump signed the bipartisan Internet of Things (“IoT”) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 into law.  The IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act empowers the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) to create cybersecurity standards for internet-connected devices purchased and used by federal agencies.  For more information on the law, please