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SEC cybersecurity guidance changes are coming

BY Eldon Sprickerhoff

January 25, 2018 | 3 MINS READ

Regulatory Compliance

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced plans to update its 6-year-old cybersecurity guidance for how publicly traded firms report data breaches to investors.[1]

These updates are likely to include the following:

  1. New rules about timely notifications to senior management to determine if a breach is material and if investors should be notified.
  2. New rules to define how funds disclose cybersecurity events that represent a material risk to their investors.
  3. New rules to create a blackout following the discovery of a cybersecurity event to prevent insider trading (Equifax, ring a bell?).

As it stands, these updates are rumored for implementation in the first or second quarter of 2018.

Why it matters

In recent years, the number and complexity of cyber-attacks has increased significantly. This has prompted a response from the SEC in the form of exam sweeps, regulatory guidance and fines.

To comply with this intensifying set of requirements, financial organizations with affiliate or domiciled firms in the US must be prepared to present documentation, policies and procedures, and tangible evidence related to cybersecurity matters (or face the consequences).

Regulatory compliance is not just about checking a box. At the heart of SEC regulations is the recognized need for preparedness in the financial industry. Identifying risks, writing policies and procedures, and having the appropriate defenses in place is essential for your business in 2018. There is no doubt that with the combination of incoming GDPR implementation and the Equifax event last year, the SEC will increase the spotlight on Incident Response preparedness.

Preparing for change

“With the refresh…businesses should expect to have to disclose more cyber risks, refine their insider trading policies and prove that they're taking information security seriously.”[2]

If you’re part of a financial organization with affiliate or domiciled firms in the US, here’s some things you should definitely start doing, if you’re not already doing them:

Be on high alert for insider trading

The “insider threat” piece has always been a critical consideration for the SEC. However, it has recently become one of the primary focuses of the current interest in cybersecurity. If inappropriate behavior is discovered, it will not be able to be blamed on hackers/external forces.

The Equifax breach has certainly highlighted the need for organizations to more carefully monitor employees who are allowed to buy or sell shares in their companies. Further, organizations can provide information related to instances in which system users, including employees, customers, and vendors, received access to firm data, systems, or reports without the required authorization.

Notify quickly

Everyone knows delayed breach disclosures were a big part of 2017. Between Yahoo, Uber, Equifax and countless others, nearly everyone experienced compromised personal data. Thus, rules are going to get stricter. Under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, which begins in May 2018, organizations that learn they may have been breached must notify authorities within 72 hours.

It’s crucial that organizations communicate their policies and procedures, as well as their business continuity of operations plan that addresses mitigation in the event of a cybersecurity incident and/or recovery from such an incident. This would include policies regarding cybersecurity incident response and responsibility for losses associated with attacks or intrusions impacting clients. In fact, with the upcoming changes, the SEC could require that businesses privately notify their regulator if they detect that something is amiss and follow it up with a timely, public notification.

Regulatory Security Preparatory Checklist

Need more information to help prepare for upcoming changes to the SEC guidance? This checklist provides questions to ask yourself in the following six main categories:

Learn more

eSentire Advisory Services provides comprehensive security expertise, delivering valuable insights and strategic direction to all levels of your business, from the IT department to the boardroom. Learn more about eSentire’s Advisory Services.

Eldon Sprickerhoff
Eldon Sprickerhoff Founder and Advisor

Eldon Sprickerhoff is the original pioneer and inventor of what is now referred to as Managed Detection and Response (MDR). In founding eSentire, he responded to the incipient yet rapidly growing demand for a more proactive approach to preventing and investigating information security breaches. Now with over 20 years of tactical experience, Eldon is acknowledged as a subject matter expert in information security analysis. Eldon holds a Bachelor of Mathematics, Computer Science degree from the University of Waterloo.

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