Tag: department of commerce

Final Report on U.S. Government Policies and Public-Private Frameworks to Address Botnets, Security and Resiliency Challenges Released

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This post is part of a continuing DBR on Data series on Executive Order 13800 and updates on its implementation a year after passage.

The U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), has released the final report on enhancing the resilience of the Internet and communications ecosystem against botnets and automated distributed threats.

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Building the Blocks of Knowledge – NIST Releases Draft Blockchain Technology Overview

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On January 25, 2018, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) division of the U.S. Department of Commerce released a draft report of Blockchain technology (Overview). Recognizing the growing public awareness of the most well-known application of Blockchain technology – Bitcoin, the Overview draft report provides a high-level discussion of the technical components of Blockchain technology, addressing how data is encrypted, and how the data is verified and then distributed among the participating Blockchain parties. NIST is seeking comments on the scope and completeness of the draft Overview, which are due by February 23, 2018.

The Overview begins with a fairly detailed, yet accessible, overview of the architecture of Blockchain technology, covering both how data that is to be recorded and encrypted in the blocks, and how the individual blocks are then incorporated into the corresponding Blockchain. Discussions of hashing, nonces, forking and Merkle Trees are included, along with helpful charts for those with a preference for visuals.

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Battling Botnets – Evolving U.S. Government Policies and Frameworks to Address Security and Resiliency Challenges

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The Secretaries of the Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security, through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in early January 2018 issued a draft report to further public discussion about enhancing the resilience of the Internet and communications ecosystem against botnets and other automated distributed threats. This report continues work initiated under Presidential Executive Order 13800, “Strengthening the Cyber Security of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.”  The report seeks additional public comment on known and evolving risks within and to the ecosystem and aims to forge consensus on what approaches warrant consideration for the government either to adopt or to encourage.  Commenters are asked to evaluate a range of proposed goals and actions to achieve a more resilient ecosystem as well as to address the roles various stakeholders play in achieving and maintaining resiliency of the ecosystem nationally and globally. Comments are due on the draft report by February 12, 2018 and the final report is due the president by May 11, 2018.

Six principal themes emerged from the government’s analysis of prior comments on identifying and mitigating botnet and other cyber threats, namely that:

  • Automated distributed attacks are a global problem;
  • While effective tools exist, they are not widely used
  • Products should be secured during all stages of their life cycle.;
  • Improved education and awareness are necessary;
  • Current market incentives are misaligned; and
  • Automated distributed attacks are an ecosystem-wide challenge.

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First Annual Joint Review of EU – U.S. Privacy Shield Addresses Six Areas of Concern

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In relation to the first annual Joint Review of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (WP29), an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy, issued its findings on November 28, 2017.

The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework provides a method for companies to transfer personal data to the U.S. from the EU in a way that is consistent with EU Law.  As we discussed in a previous blog post, the framework is based on a certification system whereby U.S. companies commit to adhere to a set of Privacy Shield Principles. Other mechanisms for transferring personal data to the U.S. from the EU are through binding corporate rules, model contracts, or use of one of a number of derogations to the EU’s restrictions on cross-border data transfers.

The report reflects the Working Party’s views in relation to the first annual joint review of the Privacy Shield program. It acknowledges both the progress and the efforts to implement Privacy Shield, but it raises a number of concerns and calls on the European Commission and U.S. authorities to restart discussions to address those concerns by May 25, 2018, which is the date the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect.

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DOJ Settlement with Netcracker Technology Corporation Highlights Cybersecurity and Export Control Best Practices for Government Contractors and Information Technology Companies

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This week the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Netcracker Technology Corporation (NTC) announced that they had settled charges that NTC had violated U.S. controls on foreign access to sensitive data. The settlement underscores many of the export control and related compliance risks surrounding the provision and use of cloud computing services and global networks. At the same time, the Enhanced Security Plan issued by NTC and DOJ as part of the settlement provides a helpful set of benchmarks and best practices for companies that may be considering the use of cloud services and network infrastructure to house and transmit their most sensitive data.

According to DOJ’s settlement announcement, NTC had worked as a subcontractor on two federal government contracts with the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), a combat support agency of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and performed some product support work from locations outside the United States, including Russia. DOJ alleged that by failing to maintain adequate controls on the cloud and network infrastructure supporting these contracts, NTC had threatened the security of sensitive data about individuals, DoD projects, networks and critical U.S. domestic communications infrastructure. DOJ further asserted that uncleared NTC foreign national employees in Russia and Ukraine worked on the DISA projects and were aware of the sensitive nature of the projects and the data stored and transmitted through the network managed by DISA.

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