While public attention focused on the federal and state elections, Michigan voters made an important decision—they adopted Proposal 20-2, which amended Michigan’s Constitution to extend its protection from unreasonable searches and seizures to electronic data and communications. With the proliferation of personal electronic devices and storage of business information on computers used at home in the past few decades, federal and state courts, including the Supreme Court, have grappled with how to apply Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures in a digital age. Although Proposal 20-2 might not change investigative practice, it clarifies that electronic data and communications are subject to the same protection against unreasonable search and seizure as other “traditional” information, such as paper records. Continue Reading Michigan Voters Add Constitutional Protections for Electronic Data and Communications

On November 9, the FTC announced a settlement of its complaint against Zoom Video Communications, Inc. The complaint charged Zoom with deceptive and unfair privacy and security practices, including claiming that it offered end-to-end encryption.

The end-to-end encryption claim has garnered the most attention. As the complaint states, Zoom represented that it offered end-to-end encryption. Instead, as this blog has previously explained, Zoom offered transport encryption, which meant that the Zoom service itself could access the unencrypted video and audio content of meetings. This meant that the confidentiality of recorded Zoom meetings depended entirely upon Zoom servers’ security from hackers—a particular concern for some users given that Zoom has servers in China. (As of October 26, Zoom began offering true end-to-end encryption as a technical preview, meaning that the company is proactively seeking feedback from its users.) Continue Reading FTC Settles Complaint Against Zoom Regarding End-to-End Encryption

“This article was originally published with Security Toolbox on September 15, 2020. You can view the original content, here.”

Domestic and international politics have invaded the field of data security, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to this invasion. Shane O’Donnell a partner & Chief Audit Executive at The Mako Group and Sean Griffin, a member at Dykema explains how security leaders can safeguard their crucial IT infrastructure in this new era of data security and navigate foreign and domestic politically motivated leaks.

Like it or not, domestic and international politics have invaded the field of data security.  Of course, COVID-19 has assisted this invasion, but other political factors from the upcoming US election to this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests have played a part. Data security professionals must therefore keep an eye not only on their IT infrastructure but the practical consequences of recent political actions. Continue Reading Political Cost of Data Leaks: Data Security in the Crosshairs

Just over eight months after the effective date of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the final California Attorney General’s CCPA regulations on June 1, 2020. The regulations are effective immediately.

In conjunction with the release of the final version of the regulations, the AG released an Addendum to Final Statement of Reasons explaining that it had (1) withdrawn certain provisions for additional consideration and (2) any changes to the text of the June 1, 2020 regulations were “non-substantive” and for “accuracy, consistency, and clarity.” The AG defined “non-substantive” as those changes that “clarify without materially altering the requirements, rights, responsibilities, conditions or prescriptions contained in the original text.” Continue Reading CCPA Regulations Are Now Final

Cannabis companies nationwide are facing yet another statutory obstacle that can have serious (and potential ruinous) consequences for the emerging industry if not appropriately addressed—the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). There is a recent uptick in class-action lawsuits filed against cannabis companies across the country premised on alleged violations of the TCPA including lawsuits in Michigan and California. These complaints allege cannabis companies sent unsolicited marketing text messages or placed automated phone calls to individuals without their consent. Cannabis dispensaries and other cannabis-related businesses should add TCPA compliance protocols to their checklist of regulatory requirements to be satisfied in this quickly emerging industry.

The TCPA

Enacted in 1991, the TCPA heavily regulates the ability to send phone, text, or facsimile messages through automatic telephone dialing systems. Non-compliance with the statute can be costly, as companies found to have violated the TCPA can be liable for $500 per call or text sent in violation of the Act, and up to $1,500 for willful or knowing violations. Damages are also not capped under the TCPA, so even a small number of texts or calls sent to a large number of recipients can lead to hefty damage awards. The ability to recover significant damages results in most TCPA claims being brought as class-actions. As a result, it is imperative that cannabis businesses that communicate with customers via text or by phone understand the rules governing the TCPA to avoid or at least minimize their liability exposure. Continue Reading Why Cannabis Companies Need to Care About the TCPA

Months ago, the Firewall warned that cybercriminals were taking advantage of the anxiety and insecurity from COVID-19 to promulgate phishing schemes, malware, and other schemes.  Interpol recently released a report (click here to download PDF from Interpol) warning of these dangers and other cybercriminal activity that exploits the current COVID-19 environment. As the Firewall advised in April, Interpol’s report notes that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the increased security vulnerabilities arising from the sudden shift to remote work.

Interpol groups the recent COVID-related cybercriminal activity into five categories. Continue Reading COVID-19 Increases Data Security Threats, Interpol Warns

After the Fourth Circuit held that a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy could cover a data incident in 2016, confusion arose as to whether CGL policies would continue to cover data breaches. A recent California lawsuit by the smart-TV maker Vizio against two of its insurance companies shows that this confusion also arises when an insured invokes CGL policies to cover litigation arising from alleged data misuse.

The smart-TV maker Vizio has faced multiple proposed class actions arising from the alleged sharing of its customers’ viewing data with third parties. Vizio recently reached a $17 million settlement to resolve multidistrict litigation (MDL) on behalf of 16 million Vizio owners alleging the sale of their data without their consent. Continue Reading Somebody’s Watching Me: A Recent Smart-TV Lawsuit Seeks Insurance Coverage for Privacy Litigation

Recently, this blog warned about Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)—state-sponsored hackers that attack U.S. companies in the hopes of sowing political, technological, or financial disruption. In particular, we warned that healthcare companies were a favorite APT target, as foreign governments sought to extract data relating to healthcare research.

Security officials in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada recently announced that a Russian APT called APT29 is targeting organizations involved in national and international COVID-19 responses. According to U.S. intelligence services, APT29 is part of the SVR, Russia’s CIA equivalent, and UK officials also blame it for attacks against the 2016 presidential election.

Continue Reading Recent Russian Cyberattacks Against Coronavirus Researchers and Other Industries Provides a Lesson on Cyber Preparedness

This article is the last in our series on the threat APTs pose (you can find part 1 here and part 2 here) and focuses on the practical steps organizations can take to guard against APT attacks. Given the sophisticated, patient nature of APTs and the varied methods they use to compromise their targets, no single solution can prevent APT attacks. However, companies that take a comprehensive approach to their security posture and maintain a strong understanding of their own data and network can mitigate the threats posed by these entities.

Specifically, strengthening compliance with cybersecurity laws and industry regulations, maintaining multiple layers of network security, and educating employees on APT attacks can help organizations defend against APT intrusions. Further, organizations with updated data inventories, a strong understanding of their data management policies, and a definite baseline of ordinary network activity can place themselves in the best position to identify APT activity before it is too late. Continue Reading U.S. Cyber Intelligence Warning Highlights Security Threat From Nation-Sponsored Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) – Part 3

On July 6, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, Inc.. The Court considered whether a 2015 amendment to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) that created an exemption for debt collection calls relating to debts owed to, or guaranteed by, the federal government ran afoul the First Amendment. The American Association of Political Consultants, Inc. (“AAPC”) wished to make political calls to cell phones, just as the collectors of federal government debt are allowed to. The AAPC challenged the 2015 amendment’s constitutionality, claiming that it violated the First Amendment because it content-based and did not satisfy the strict scrutiny standard. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the exemption unconstitutional but declined to strike down the entire TCPA as unconstitutional. The Fourth Circuit instead elected to sever the constitutionally offensive amendment and permit the balance of the TCPA to stand. The Supreme Court appeal considered two discrete questions: (1) whether the 2015 exemption for debt collection calls relating to government-backed debt was constitutional; and (2) if not, then what was the proper remedy to address the constitutional violation. Continue Reading The Big TCPA Case That Wasn’t