Developments to Improve the Cybersecurity of Federal Government Agencies, Critical Infrastructure

Recently, several developments have been proposed or announced to help identify and mitigate cyber risk for United States critical infrastructure operators and software in an effort to further bolster the cybersecurity posture of the federal government. (more…)

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U.S. Treasury Department Seeks Public Comment On Potential Federal Cyber Insurance Program

The U.S. Treasury Department is seeking public comment on the need and scope for a potential federal insurance response to catastrophic cyber incidents, akin to the one put in place for terrorism insurance after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

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U.S. FERC Proposes Revisions to Cybersecurity Incentives for Utilities

On September 22, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) regarding Incentives for Advanced Cybersecurity Investment, requesting comment on proposed revisions to regulations implementing the Federal Power Act (FPA). The revisions would provide incentive-based rate treatments for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce and the sale of electric energy at wholesale in interstate commerce by utilities for certain voluntary cybersecurity investments. The NOPR was issued in response to a Congressional mandate set forth in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, which directed FERC to establish cybersecurity incentives that would encourage investments by utilities in advanced cybersecurity technology and participation in cybersecurity threat information sharing programs. This NOPR replaces a prior cybersecurity incentives NOPR from December 2020.

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Blockchain Tracing: The U.S. Government’s Newest Tool to Combat Foreign Crime

On May 13, 2022, U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui of the District of Columbia took the unusual step of unsealing and issuing a Memorandum Opinion captioned “In Re: Criminal Complaint” to explain the court’s conclusion that probable cause existed to authorize a federal criminal complaint against an individual for transmitting over $10 million worth of bitcoin between the United States and an Office of Foreign Assets Control–sanctioned nation, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and defrauding the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371.

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Data Matters: The Declaration for the Future of the Internet

On April 28, 2022, the White House announced, in partnership with 60 global partners, the launch of the Declaration for the Future of the Internet, also known as the “DFI.”

According to the White House briefing, the Declaration sets forth the shared principles regarding how parties should comport themselves with respect to the Internet, the digital ecosystem, and the digital economy. The Declaration affirms that the signatories are committed to defending the Internet, to governing it by a multi-stakeholder approach, and to promoting an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet for the world. The State Department’s newly formed Bureau of Cyberspace and Digital Policy put out a nearly identical statement. (more…)

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CISA: “We don’t stab the wounded.”

Jen Easterly, Director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”), repeatedly emphasizes CISA’s cooperative approach with the U.S. private sector. During her interview with Sidley’s Alan Raul on April 13, 2022, Easterly emphasized that CISA’s role was not to “name, blame, shame, or stab the wounded” victims of cybersecurity incidents. Instead, she described the Agency as a coequal partner with the private sector in securing U.S. infrastructure. CISA desires to partner with other agencies as well, operating as the “front door” to federal agency support and cyber security resources, she stated. During the Raul interview, she also provided insight into the Agency’s perspective on the newly enacted Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 (CIRCIA). (more…)

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Understanding China’s Data Regulatory Regime: What Are Important Data? And Can They Be Transferred Outside Of China?

The concept of “important data” is a cornerstone of China’s data regulatory regime. The Cyber Security Law (2017) (the CSL) prohibits operators of critical information infrastructures (CIIs) from transferring their “important data” and personal information outside of China. The Data Security Law (2021) (the DSL) and some recent draft regulations indicate that the prohibition on exports of “important data” is likely to apply to all companies, whether CII operators or not.

Then, what are “important data”? (more…)

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White House Urgent Warning: Act Now to Protect Against Potential Russian Cyberattacks

On March 21, 2022, the White House issued a dramatic warning based on “evolving intelligence” about the potential for Russia to threaten America with cyber attacks in response to U.S.-imposed economic sanctions. In a separate statement, President Biden said that “the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.” He urged the private sector, especially those that operate critical infrastructure, to “harden your cyber defenses immediately by implementing the best practices we have developed together over the last year.” According to Anne Neuberger, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, Russia has been conducting “preparatory activities”, which she said could include scanning of websites and hunting for software vulnerabilities.

In addition to CISA’s Shields-Up campaign, which we covered in a previous blog post, the White House’s March 21 Fact Sheet stresses the urgency of key cyber hygiene steps including recommendations to: (more…)

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Congress Passes Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022

The U.S. Congress has passed a significant new cybersecurity law that will require critical infrastructure entities to report material cybersecurity incidents and ransomware payments to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) within 72 and 24 hours, respectively. The reporting requirements will cover multiple sectors of the economy, including chemical industry entities, commercial facilities, communications sector entities, critical manufacturing, dams, financial services entities, food and agriculture sector entities, healthcare entities, information technology, energy, and transportation. CISA must promulgate a proposed implementing regulation within 24 months from final enactment date of March 15, 2022, and a final regulation no later than 18 months thereafter. The effective date of the act’s reporting requirements will be set by the final rule. (more…)

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U.S. Government Issues Warning of Threat Against U.S. Critical Infrastructure

On February 25, 2022, in light of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and months of continuing Russian state-sponsored cyberattacks on Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure organizations, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a “Shields Up” warning to American critical infrastructure organizations and businesses, stating that “[e]very organization—large and small—must be prepared to respond to disruptive cyber activity.”  While the guidance states that there are no specific, credible cyber threats directed at the United States, it notes that Russian threat actors have been orchestrating denial of service and destructive malware attacks affecting Ukraine and its neighboring countries, and that such activities may spread to the United States and its NATO allies in what is a rapidly evolving scenario. (more…)

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