EU adopts new sanctions framework targeting external cyber-attacks

On 17 May, the EU adopted legislation which will enable it to impose sanctions against persons and entities who engage in cyber-attacks against the EU and its member states. The sanctions will be designed “to deter and respond to cyber-attacks with a significant effect which constitute an external threat to the EU and its Member States”. The new regime underlines a clear commitment by the EU to continue to strengthen its capability to address its “[concern] at the rise of malicious behaviour in cyberspace”. Continue reading

Court makes permanent injunction against unknown parties preventing disclosure of confidential information unlawfully removed from computer

In the cases of Clarkson Plc v Person(s) Unknown (“Clarkson”) and PML v Person(s) unknown (“PML”), the court has created a new tool in the fight against cyber attackers. The defendants who are unknown person(s) gained unauthorised access to the claimants’ IT systems and acquired a considerable quantity of information. The unknown defendant(s) then threatened to publicise the information unless a substantial sum was paid. Despite not being able to identify the attackers directly the court was prepared to grant an injunction. Continue reading

Risk of a “Meltdown”? Recent authority guidance and practical tips to mitigate the risk of organisations falling victim to the latest cyber exploits

Significant vulnerabilities that could allow cyber attackers to compromise data have been found in common processors in almost all modern devices.

What are “Meltdown” and “Spectre”?

The vulnerabilities, known as “Meltdown” and “Spectre”, are two related so-called “side-channel” attacks that have been found in central processing chips (CPUs) designed by Intel, AMD (Advanced Micro Devices Inc) and ARM (Advanced RISC Machines Ltd). The issue was recently discovered by security researchers at Google’s Project Zero in conjunction with academic and industry researchers from several countries. Continue reading

The GDPR: Practical European Guidance on personal data breach notification requirements

The GDPR introduces a new mandatory requirement for all controllers to notify the appropriate data protection authority of a “personal data breach” likely to result in a risk to people’s rights and freedoms, for example following a cyber-attack. This will include providing the regulator with a significant amount of information about the breach and marks a change from the present regime where notification to the ICO is not mandatory (although the ICO does already encourage notification for “serious breaches”).

The GDPR also includes a new obligation to notify the affected data subjects themselves: when a “personal data breach is likely to result in a high risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons”. There is an exception in relation to those parts of the data which have been rendered unintelligible to unauthorised persons through the application of technical measures such as encryption or so-called “salting and hashing”.

Fines for breach of the separate fundamental requirements to implement appropriate technical and organisational security measures under Article 32(1) of the GDPR are set at the lower tier under the new sanctions regime. Article 33(5) also requires controllers to document all personal data breaches – comprising the facts of the breach, its effects and remedial actions taken – so as to enable regulators to verify compliance with the Article 32 requirements. This is in line with the accountability principle that runs through the provisions of the GDPR.

The Article 29 Working Party recently issued guidance which discusses the notification obligations and includes some worked examples of various types of breaches, including when notification is and isn’t required. Continue reading

WannaCry: A chance to test systems and raise awareness at a global level?

In one of the most dramatic and widespread cyber attacks to date, on Friday 12 May 2017, a worldwide ransomware attack known as “WannaCrypt” or “WannaCry” began infecting hundreds of thousands of computers in over 150 countries. Starting in the UK and Spain, critical infrastructure operators around the world including those in the health, transport, finance, telecoms and energy sectors, as well as manufacturers and service providers were affected. Continue reading

Save the data: EU General Data Protection Regulation to apply from 25 May 2018

The EU General Data Protection Regulation has finally been approved and published in the Official Journal. The countdown to its application date of 25 May 2018 has therefore begun.

The European Commission published its first draft of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR“) in January 2012, a comprehensive reform of current the existing EU regime. In April 2016, after over four years of debate, the final text of the GDPR was formally approved.

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