On March 14, 2018, the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced insider trading charges against a former chief information officer (“CIO”) of a business unit of Equifax, Inc. According to prosecutors, the CIO exercised options and sold his shares after he learned of a cybersecurity breach and before that breach was publicly announced. Equifax has indicated that approximately 147.9 million consumers had personal information that was compromised. Continue Reading Insider Trading Charges Brought Against CIO for Post-Breach Trading
On March 7, 2018, Hunton & Williams LLP hosted a webinar with partners Lisa Sotto, Aaron Simpson and Scott Kimpel, and senior associate Brittany Bacon on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC’s”) recently released cybersecurity guidance. For the first time since its last major staff pronouncement on cybersecurity in 2011, the SEC has released new interpretive guidance for public companies that will change the way issuers approach cybersecurity risk. Continue Reading Webinar Recording Available on SEC Cybersecurity Guidance
On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) published long-awaited cybersecurity interpretive guidance (the “Guidance”). The Guidance marks the first time that the five SEC commissioners, as opposed to agency staff, have provided guidance to U.S. public companies with regard to their cybersecurity disclosure and compliance obligations.
This week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced the creation of a new Cyber Unit that will target cyber-related threats that may impact investors. The Cyber Unit, which will be part of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, will seek to combat various types of cyber-related threats including: Continue Reading SEC Creates Cyber Unit to Target Cyber-Related Threats
On August 7, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) issued a Risk Alert examining the cybersecurity policies and procedures of 75 broker-dealers, investment advisers and investment companies (collectively, the “firms”). The Risk Alert builds on OCIE’s 2014 Cybersecurity Initiative, a prior cybersecurity examination of the firms, and notes that while OCIE “observed increased cybersecurity preparedness” among the firms since 2014, it “also observed areas where compliance and oversight could be improved.” Continue Reading SEC Risk Alert Highlights Cybersecurity Improvements and Suggested Best Practices
In 2017, over $1.3 billion has been raised by start-ups through Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), a relatively new form of financing technique in which a company (typically one operating in the digital currency space) seeking to raise seed money makes a “token” available for sale, and the token gives the purchaser some future right in the business or other benefit. Amidst much anticipation, on July 25, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) released a Report of Investigation (“Report”) under Section 21(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 warning the market that “tokens” issued in ICOs may be “securities” such that the full breadth of the U.S. federal securities laws may apply to their offer and sale. The Report and a simultaneously released Investor Bulletin offer guidance and serve as a notice to the market that the SEC will be policing this new financing technique.
On May 5, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a default judgment in favor of the SEC against three Chinese defendants accused of hacking into the nonpublic networks of two New York-headquartered law firms and stealing confidential information regarding several publicly traded companies engaged in mergers and acquisitions. The defendants allegedly profited illegally by trading the stolen nonpublic information. After the defendants failed to answer the SEC’s complaint, the court entered a default judgment against them, imposing a fine of approximately $8.9 million against the defendants (three times the profits they gained by the unlawful trading, the maximum penalty allowable under the relevant section of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934).
On January 9, 2017, Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Jared Polis (D-CO) reintroduced the Email Privacy Act, which would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (“ECPA”) of 1986. In particular, the legislation would require government entities to obtain a warrant, based on probable cause, before accessing the content of any emails or electronic communications stored with third-party service providers, regardless of how long the communications have been held in electronic storage by such providers. Although ECPA currently requires law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant to search the contents of electronic communications held by service providers that are less than 180 days old, communications that are more than 180 days old can be obtained with a subpoena. Continue Reading Email Privacy Act Reintroduced in Congress
On December 21, 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) announced that it had fined 12 financial institutions a total of $14.4 million for improper storage of electronic broker-dealer and customer records. Federal securities law and FINRA rules require that business-related electronic records be kept in “write once, read many” (“WORM”) format, which prevents alteration or destruction. FINRA found that the 12 sanctioned firms had failed to store such records in WORM format, in many cases for extended periods of time. Continue Reading FINRA Issues $14.4 Million in Fines for Inadequate Record Storage Practices
On December 27, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced charges against three Chinese traders who allegedly made almost $3 million in illegal profits by fraudulently trading on nonpublic information that had been hacked from two New York-based law firms. This is the first action in which the SEC has brought charges in connection with an incident involving hacking into a law firm’s computer network.