VIDEO: Is Your Company Prepared for a Cyber-Incident?
Data security breaches are on the rise. Increasingly, companies see cybersecurity as a critical concern for their reputation and business. The stakes could not be higher. Fighting cybercrime, keeping data and proprietary information secure, and protecting networks has become a board responsibility and essential function. Success requires cooperation and management throughout the enterprise—lawyers, IT professionals, managers, security officials, communications professionals, and others need a strategy and plan.
In this three-part video alert series, Evan Wolff, Crowell & Moring partner and former Department of Homeland Security adviser, discusses the trends he's seeing in cybersecurity, how companies should prepare for cybersecurity breaches or incidents, and what companies should do when a cyber-incident or breach occurs.
Part 1: When Cybersecurity Becomes a Legal Consideration
Part 2: Trends in Cybersecurity
Part 3: Preparing for Cybersecurity Breaches and Cyber Incidents
Why is cybersecurity a legal issue?
I think cyber is increasingly becoming a legal issue for three reasons. First and foremost, because the government is beginning to regulate the space. We're seeing this in
the defense sector through the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations,
where they've created a new rule called the Safeguarding Rule that are
requiring companies to implement specific requirements: both technical
controls on their system and also incident response requirements for
Outside of the defense sector, we're also seeing increased
activities in the utilities sector and other sectors. The second reason
is because of the investigations after incidents and the response to
incidents. It's critically important that a lawyer be involved in
incident response; not only in the engagement of technical forensic
experts but also in running the investigation and in understanding
The third reason is because we have so many third parties involved
that often have complex relationships. A great example is the supply
chain and the vendors of companies. Oftentimes, the contractual
relationships require companies to be able to understand when an event
occurs and to be able to do joint investigations. And, on the flip
side, when a company enters into a contract with its customers, that
they understand the legal risks and responsibilities.
What are the trends in cybersecurity?
First and foremost, we're seeing an increased focus on
cyber threat information sharing. And, what I mean by that is sharing
the information on how you are being attacked, the tools the
adversaries are using, and some of the other information associated with
those attacks. By companies sharing them, either with other companies
in your sector, or sharing them with government, you can both increase
your ability to protect your networks and make it much harder for
those to attack them.
A secondary focus that I'm seeing is in the area of compliance. This
means establishing clear governance with very clear roles and
They're also developing policies and procedures and making sure that
the entirety of the company is involved; both from the senior level to
the people that are responsible for protecting their networks, and
ultimately they're also making sure they are doing some of the basics
involved in training and some of the IT security issues.
The third trend I'm seeing is the change in technology itself.
Increasingly, companies are focusing on what technology is appropriate
to them and making sure that that technology is used and not something
you are buying for decades at a time; but for sometimes six months or a
year at a time. Because, ultimately, technology is going to be both the
solution to many of the threats we are seeing, and in the interim,
they give companies the market advantage to be able to look across the
horizon and see what's coming down the road.
How should companies prepare for cybersecurity breaches or cyber-incidents?
There are three things companies should be doing right
now, which is be proactive by first building a team. That team should
involve not just lawyers and IT directors but also people from
management and people from communications. You really need to build a
coalition of the people that are going to be involved in an incident
Then, once the team is built, the second thing they need to do is
build very clear policies and procedures. Three of them that I think are
critical for most companies are: having a very clear privacy and
security plan, having an incident response plan, and and having a
vendor management policy.
Once you have those clear policies, the last thing a company should
do is practice. You should be using these policies and practicing
through scenarios and through tabletop exercises, or going through a
scenario of what an incident or breach would look like on at least an
annual basis. From that, you can learn and develop the appropriate
toolkits and appropriate responses so you all understand—if there is an
incident—how to be prepared and what you need to do to be prepared.
What should a company do when a cyber-incident or breach occurs?
First, and most importantly, gather the team. You need to
make sure you have a group of both people within the IT department,
the business department, the management, and of course legal and
communications that are all working together to manage the incident.
Second, you need to focus on security. You need to make sure your
system is safe and, for example, if you think your email system has
been compromised, don't send emails to people until you are sure that
the system has been secured and cleaned.
Third, you need to put together an investigation team that is very
thorough. Sometimes this involves using third party forensic
investigators. Make sure that they are hired through the legal
department and that you have thought through those privilege issues at
Last, really manage the interactions with third parties, whether it
be disclosures to the government, working with law enforcement, or
managing some of the relationships with the vendors. Those third party
disclosures can be very critical and oftentimes very difficult.
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