On October 16, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) took the unusual step of issuing a Report of Investigation cautioning public companies that they should consider cyber threats and related human vulnerabilities when designing and implementing their internal accounting controls. The report is an outgrowth of an investigation conducted by the SEC’s Enforcement Division into whether certain public companies that were victims of cyber fraud complied with the federal securities laws requiring public companies to implement and maintain internal accounting controls. The controls provided by these provisions must be sufficient to provide reasonable assurances that transactions occur (e.g., purchasing equipment), and access to assets is permitted (e.g., checking accounts, warehouses), only in accordance with management’s authorization.
On February 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued interpretive guidance (the Guidance) to assist public companies in drafting their cybersecuritydisclosures in SEC filings. See 83 FR 8166 (Feb. 26, 2018). In his public statement accompanying the issuance of this guidance, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said he believed that “providing the Commission’s views on these matters will promote clearer and more robust disclosure by companies about cybersecurity risks and incidents, resulting in more complete information being available to investors.”1 In this new guidance, the SEC is likely intending to signal how it may focus future enforcement concerning the cybersecurity disclosure obligations of public companies, and their underlying disclosure controls, procedures and certifications. (more…)