Category Archives: Privacy & Information Management

Despite Equifax Breach Causes, Social Engineering Still Biggest Threat to Data Security

It’s now been widely reported that the cause of the recent Equifax data breach, which compromised the personal data of perhaps as many as 143 million people, was the result of the company’s alleged failure to apply a patch to fix a known security hole in some open source software (OSS), known as Apache Struts.  But there is now some controversy about whether those reports are accurate or reliable, and some of the early reports have since been retracted.  There is technical complexity about security holes in OSS and application of patches that have led to conflicting viewpoints on how …

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A TCPA Slam Dunk in the Ninth Circuit?

The fight is not over yet, but the insurance industry just had a significant victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The scenario is likely familiar to most. You’re invited to send a text and get something in return—maybe news updates, maybe a chance to win concert tickets. In this case it was the promise of having your sent text posted at a basketball game. Someone sent a text hoping to see their message on a big screen at a Lakers game, and then shortly thereafter got a text back reading something along the lines …

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Autonomous Vehicles and All That Data

In an earlier post, we discussed the potential ownership models for autonomous vehicles, also known as driverless cars (“AVs”). Models range from true traditional ownership as we understand it today, to licensed-based models (vehicles owned by someone else but you can use them on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis), to service-based models (you do not own the vehicle, but you can call it when you want it, e.g. cab, Uber).  In this post we will explore the data-intensiveness of autonomous vehicles, the impending data “land grab,” and who will own and control all of the data generated by AVs. An …

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Cyber Security and Social Engineering: A Big Low Tech Problem

Headline-grabbing cyber hacks of email accounts belonging to celebrities, corporations, government officials and political campaigns are becoming the norm.  Cybersecurity intended to guard against these acts brings to mind high tech computer hardware and software fixes delivered by knowledgeable IT professionals, who are expected to prevent network intrusions, stolen passwords, viruses, ransomware attacks and other hacks. But the most recent notable cyber hacks were not caused by high tech espionage.  Rather, they were the product of low tech social engineering – the use of deception to manipulate users into divulging confidential passwords and other personal information.  This kind of hack …

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The Anthem Breach – A Retrospective (Part II)

We published Part I of our “Anthem Breach Retrospective” in January 2017.  Coincidentally, at around the same time several plaintiffs in one of the earliest filed cases arising out of the Anthem data breach voluntarily asked a judge in the Northern District of California to dismiss their lawsuits. The requests for dismissal came after Judge Cousins ordered select plaintiffs to comply with a discovery request by Anthem, requiring them to submit their computers to an independent forensic examiner to determine whether malware caused data or credentials to be stolen from the plaintiffs’ computers even before the breach of Anthem’s systems. …

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ISO’s Privacy Standard for Cloud Service Providers

In July 2014, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) issued a new security standard – ISO 27018 – which attempts to outline best practices for public cloud service providers on how to better protect personally identifiable information.  Although the standard expressly only applies to public cloud providers, it’s instructive to any cloud provider –public or private. Like all ISO standards, compliance with ISO 27018 is voluntary, and certification under the standard is not required by any law. However, over time, more and more cloud service contracts are requiring compliance with or certification to this standard. Adhering to the ISO …

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Key HIPAA Settlement Agreements by HHS’s Office for Civil Rights in 2015 & 2016

The last time this blog presented an overview of key HIPAA settlement agreements at the Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was a review of 2014.  The number of complaints that year had spiked up compared to 2013: around a 25% increase.  This post will examine key cases from 2015 and 2016.  While the number of complaints in 2015 was relatively steady with 2014, it appears, based on preliminary numbers, that 2016 was the busiest year ever for the Office. HHS has data through November 2016 currently posted on its website, but no …

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The Anthem Breach – A Retrospective

Many people and news outlets have opined, weighed in, and informed the public about the 2015 Anthem breach. It remains a hot topic in January 2017, because it currently lines up with other hot stories about hacking ordered by foreign governments.  But even before the Anthem breach was linked to one of the biggest issues of the 2016 election cycle, it was an important data incident, for several reasons. Why was the Anthem breach important at that time? The Anthem breach was notable because it was the first major data breach that potentially involved protected health information. Media coverage about …

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Legal Considerations for Website Privacy Policies

You finally created your website. Did you include eye-catching graphics? Check. Did you include an attention-grabbing banner slogan? Did you post all of your social media handles? Did you include a privacy policy for the website? Maybe… We get questions from clients about whether they are required to include a privacy policy and, if so, what should it say.  The answers may surprise you, but a privacy policy should definitely not be an afterthought for website owners.  It certainly isn’t a best practice to simply copy and paste the privacy policy of another’s company’s website.  The representations made in website …

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You Just Used My Picture Without Permission?

Artist Richard Prince’s exhibit entitled “New Portraits’’ was displayed at New York City’s Gagosian Gallery and Frieze New York during the summer of 2015.  This exhibit featured screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos.  These screenshots were not altered.  They were simply the pictures that Instagram users posted, with an addition of Prince’s comments in the comment section of the post. What is remarkable is that the individuals whose likenesses and photographs were used were unaware of the use.  Prince did not ask for permission or provide notice.  He just used the pictures.  Apparently, the art world was pleased with his …

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