Three key issues from the Ontario cyber security Expert Panel report

On October 3rd, the Ontario’s cyber security Expert Panel issued its report to Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, Kaleed Rasheed.

His Honour said, “The Expert Panel’s recommendations will form the foundation of our cyber security policies and help develop best practices shared across all sectors as well as inform future targeted investments in our cyber capabilities and defences.”

Those recommendations are:

  1. Regarding governance: Ontario should reinforce existing governance structures to enable effective cyber security risk management across the BPS.
  2. Regarding education and training: Ontario should continue to develop diverse and inclusive cyber security awareness and training initiatives across all age-levels of learning, supported by a variety of common and tailored content and hands-on activities.
  3. Regarding communication: Ontario should implement a framework that encourages BPS entities to share information related to cyber security securely amongst each other with ease.
  4. Regarding shared services: Ontario should continue to develop, improve, and expand shared services and contracts for cyber resiliency across the BPS, considering sector-specific needs where required.

Here are three issues of significance to public sector instutions and their insurers.

FIRST, the governance recommendation contemplates more government oversight, including through “a single oversight body, employing a common operating model [and] clearly establishing accountabilities.”

Institutions require more funding to address cyber security risks. This recommendation is positive because it will lay the necessary groundwork.

As suggested by the Expert Panel, the current relationship between government and institutions is somewhat confused. Government is engaged an informal kind of oversight that lacks effectiveness and can rightly put institutions on guard because its measures are unclear. Institutions will benefit from clear and simple accountabilities and – did I say it already? – the funding to meet those accountabilities.

SECOND, the communication recommendation encompasses threat information sharing, with the Expert Panel stating, “Ontario should establish a unified critical information sharing protocol to ensure quick communication of cyber incidents, threat intelligence, and vulnerabilities amongst BPS organizations.”

This is to rectify what the Expert Panel says is the “unidirectional” flow of threat information, which is reported to government but is not yet “broadly shared across the BPS.” Institutions know that government currently craves the early reporting of threat information, but the perceived benefit is still minimal. The Expert Panel recommendation is positive in that it may lead to their receipt of more timely, more enriched threat information.

THIRD, the shared services recommendation addresses the cyber insurance coverage problem now faced by the public sector. The expert panel states:

Ontario should investigate options for establishing a self-funded cyber insurance program to support the delivery of services such as breach coaching, incident response, and recovery to which all BPS organizations can subscribe.

There is a form of self-funded cyber coverage available various parts of the Ontario public sector through insurance reciprocals. This coverage is expanding, and the role of reciprocals is becoming more important now that the insurance market has become so hard. Primary coverage by reciprocals, even if limited in scope, can make secondary coverage more obtainable for public sector institutions.

The “breach coaching” reference above gives me pause, though I understand it to be indicative of how the role of expert legal counsel in incident response was borne out of the cyber insurance market (with the term coined by cyber risk and insurance company NetDiligence, I believe).

Breach coaching is simply expert legal advice by another name. It is funded by cyber insurance for those who have coverage, and insurers have required their insureds to use vetted and approved legal advisors in responding to incidents because they understand the risk mitigating (and cost reducing) value of this specialized legal service. Public sector institutions without coverage bear all the same risks as those with coverage, and without proper advice are at great peril. The need for proper legal advice one reason is why it is so important to solve the public sector coverage problem, though institutions dealing with a major cyber incident should not consider legal advice to be optional.

Cyber Risks and M&A Transactions

We have just posted all the content for our BLG series “Privacy & Cyber Risks, Trends & Opportunities for Business.” See here for some very good content by our privacy and data security team.

Here is a direct link to our most recent webinar, which I delivered together with my partner Patrice Martin. It was very rewarding to work with and learn from Patrice, a very well established technology industry and transactions lawyer.

Enjoy. Learn. Get in touch.

Cyber, secrecy and the public body

Here’s a copy of a presentation I gave yesterday at the High Technology Crime Investigation Association virtual conference. It adresses the cyber security pressures on public bodies that arise out of access-to-information legislation, with a segment on how public sector incident response differs from incident response in the private sector

Cyber insurance and incident response practice

Here’s a deck from a Monday panel presentation that I participated in with some colleagues from the sector.  It features a cyber incident scenario and some questions. See if you can answer them, and if you’d like to have a discussion, please comment or get in touch.

Privacy incidents, risks and liability – a legal update

Today I did short update-style presentation at a session jointly-sponsored by the Canadian Insurance Adjusters Association, the Canadian Defence Lawyers and the Canadian Insurance Claims Managers Association. It includes content on breach notification statutory changes and notable case law. Slides below.

Better breach response – how to be good when things go bad

Here’s a presentation my partner Ian Dick and I gave today to an audience of in-house counsel. It’s about the why’s and how’s of breach response planning. The wonderful Karen Gordon of Squeaky Wheel Communications also presented on communicating a data breach, and her slides are attached.

Cyber liability issues – risks, prevention and response

Here’s a one hour private presentation my partner Jeff Goodman and I gave to a group of risk management professionals yesterday. I’d be happy to come to your organization and conduct a similar presentation if you’re interested. Please get in touch.

Intrusive mobile application class action certified in Québec

On June 27, the Superior Court of Québec certified a class action about the alleged intrusive nature of free applications offered through Apple’s “App Store.”

The petitioner alleges that Apple breached various Québec statutes by failing to inform users that free applications would facilitate the collection and use of their personal information, including their “geolocation.” The petitioner also claims that individuals were harmed (a) by the loss of computing resources and (b) by being led to overpay for their Apple devices, such devices being “inextricably linked” to undesirable characteristics associated with free applications distributed through the App Store. The petitioner asked the Court to grant certification so he could prosecute Apple on on behalf of all residents in Canada who downloaded free applications from December 1, 2008 to present.

Apple attacked the action’s suitability for certification on a number of bases. Most fundamentally, it complained that the action provided for an “infinite variety of classes” – for example (and at the least), classes of individuals who were exposed to applications with different information-gathering characteristics. Nonetheless, the Court granted certification of a Québec only class. Its analysis is very forgiving, especially in addressing Apple’s (very valid) concerns about the individualized nature of a consent dispute, which the Court dismissed as follows:

In the Court’s view, all of the Respondents’ arguments regarding the consent or lack thereof, the voluntary provision of information by Class Members and other similar elements that distinguish Class Members between them can be raised by them in their defence or alternatively when dealing with the « lien de causalité ».

Hat tip to BLG and its privacy law blog for this post.

Albilia c Apple Inc, 2013 QCCS 2805 (CanLII).

Settlement approved in Canadian cyber attack suit

On June 10th, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved a settlement in a class action brought against Sony of Canada Ltd. and others. The action (for breach of contract) followed an April 2011 cyber attack that targeted accountholder information of approximately 4.5 million individuals enrolled in various Sony online services. The following is the Court’s summary of the settlement:

  • Class Members who had a credit balance in their PSN or SOE account at the time of the Intrusions but have not used any of their accounts shall receive cash payments for credit balances.
  • The Sony Entities will make available online game and service benefits to class members geared principally to the type of account (PSN, Qriocity, and/or SOE) held by the class member at the time of the Intrusions.
  • The settlement benefits are available through a simple process. To become entitled to benefits, Class Members need only to complete a claim form.
  • The Sony Entities will reimburse any Class Members who can demonstrate that they suffered Actual Identity Theft, as defined in the Settlement Agreement. Class Members that prove Identity Theft can submit claims for reimbursement of out-of-pocket payments (not otherwise reimbursed) for expenses that are incurred as a direct result of the Actual Identity Theft, up to a maximum of $2,500.00 per claim.
  • The Sony Entities are to pay for the costs associated with providing notice of the Settlement Agreement and the settlement approval hearing, all administration costs, as well as an agreed amount for plaintiffs’ lawyers’ fees and expenses ($265,000).

The parties sent a notice of certification and notice of motion for settlement approval to 3.5 million e-mail addresses. Fifteen percent of the e-mails were returned as undeliverable, 28 individuals opted out and nobody objected.

Justice Perell noted that the agreement was premised on the understanding that there has in fact been no improper use of personal information resulting in identity theft. He also said, “The Settlement Agreement reflects the state of the law, including possible damage awards, for breach of privacy/intrusion upon seclusion and loss/denial of service claims.”

Maksimovic v Sony of Canada Ltd, 2013 CanLII 41305 (ON SC).

The science of breach prevention and the art of breach response

Data loss prevention and response is a big topic now! The HRSDC lost hard drive is about a huge (but seemingly benign) incident that has attracted great attention. We also have the Obama administration’s attention to corporate network security – such attention given at a time in which sacrifices are being made to corporate network security based on trends such as BYOD.

Here is a practical guide that we’ve prepared to address the salient issues. We hope it’s useful to you.