Department of Homeland Security

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Recent press reports indicate that a cyber attack disabled the third-party platform used by oil and gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners to exchange documents with other customers. Effects from the attack were largely confined because no other systems were impacted, including, most notably, industrial controls for critical infrastructure. However, the attack comes on the heels of an FBI and Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) alert warning of Russian attempts to use tactics including spearphishing, watering hole attacks, and credential gathering to target industrial control systems throughout critical infrastructure, as well as an indictment against Iranian nationals who used similar tactics to attack private, education, and government institutions, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). These incidents raise questions about cybersecurity across the U.S. pipeline network. Continue Reading Attacks Targeting Oil and Gas Sector Renew Questions About Cybersecurity

On March 15, 2018, the Trump Administration took the unprecedented step of publicly blaming the Russian government for carrying out cyber attacks on American energy infrastructure. According to a joint Technical Alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, beginning at least as early as March 2016, Russian government cyber actors carried out a “multi-stage intrusion campaign” that sought to penetrate U.S. government entities and a wide range of U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including “organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors.” Continue Reading U.S. Blames Russia for Cyber Attacks on Energy Infrastructure

On December 21, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) aimed at expanding mandatory reporting obligations in relation to cybersecurity incidents. In particular, FERC’s NOPR would direct the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to develop modifications to certain Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) Reliability Standards so that those standards require mandatory reporting of cybersecurity incidents that compromise or attempt to compromise a responsible entity’s Electronic Security Perimeter (“ESP”) or associated Electronic Access Control or Monitoring Systems. Continue Reading FERC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Aimed at Expanding Data Breach Reporting Obligations

On July 26, 2016, the White House unveiled Presidential Policy Directive PPD-41 (“PPD-41”), Subject: United States Cyber Incident Coordination, which sets forth principles for federal responses to cyber incidents approved by the National Security Council (“NCS”). Coming on the heels of several high-profile federal breaches, including the Office of Personnel Management’s loss of security clearance information and the hack of over 700,000 IRS accounts, PPD-41 is a component of President Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan. PPD-41 first focuses on incident response to cyber attacks on government assets, but also outlines federal incident responses to cyber attacks on certain critical infrastructure within the private sector. Continue Reading White House Releases New Policy on Federal Cyber Incident Response

On June 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) jointly issued final guidance on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (“CISA”). Enacted in December 2015, CISA includes a variety of measures designed to strengthen private and public sector cybersecurity. In particular, CISA provides protections from civil liability, regulatory action and disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and other open government laws for “cyber threat indicators” (“CTI”) and “defensive measures” (“DM”) that are shared: (1) among businesses or (2) between businesses and the government through a DHS web portal. Congress passed CISA in order to increase the sharing of cybersecurity information among businesses and between businesses and the government, and to improve the quality and quantity of timely, actionable cybersecurity intelligence in the hands of the private sector and government information security professionals. Continue Reading DHS and DOJ Issue Final Guidance on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015

On February 16, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), in collaboration with other federal agencies, released a series of documents outlining procedures for both federal and non-federal entities to share and disseminate cybersecurity information. These documents were released as directed by the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (the “Act”), signed into law on December 18, 2015. The Act outlines a means by which the private sector may enjoy protection from civil liability when sharing certain cybersecurity information with the federal government and private entities. These documents represent the first steps by the executive branch to implement the Act. Continue Reading Department of Homeland Security Issues Procedures Regarding Sharing Cybersecurity Information

On February 9, 2016, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing a permanent Federal Privacy Council (“Privacy Council”) that will serve as the principal interagency support structure to improve the privacy practices of government agencies and entities working on their behalf. The Privacy Council is charged with building on existing interagency efforts to protect privacy and provide expertise and assistance to government agencies, expand the skill and career development opportunities of agency privacy professionals, improve the management of agency privacy programs, and promote collaboration between and among agency privacy professionals.

Continue Reading President Obama Signs Executive Order Establishing Federal Privacy Council

On December 16, 2015, leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate released a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that contained cybersecurity information sharing language that is based on a compromise between the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, which passed in the Senate in October, and two cybersecurity information sharing bills that passed in the House earlier this year. Specifically, the omnibus spending bill included Division N, the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (the “Act”).  Continue Reading U.S. Congress Releases Compromise Bill on Cybersecurity Information Sharing

The House of Representatives passed two complimentary bills related to cybersecurity, the “Protecting Cyber Networks Act” (H.R. 1560) and the “National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015” (H.R. 1731). These bills provide, among other things, liability protection for (1) the use of monitoring and defensive measures to protect information systems, and (2) the sharing of cybersecurity threat information amongst non-federal entities and with the federal government. With the Senate having just recently overcome disagreement on sex trafficking legislation and the Attorney General nomination, that body is now expected to consider similar information sharing legislation entitled the “Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act” (S. 754) in the coming weeks. Assuming S. 754 also is passed by the Senate, the two Chambers of Congress will convene a Conference Committee to draft a single piece of legislation which will be then voted on by the House and Senate, before heading to the President’s desk. The White House has not committed to signing any resulting legislation, but has signaled some positive support.

Continue Reading House of Representatives Passes Two Cybersecurity Bills