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HHS releases health care cybersecurity guide
On March 8, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a cybersecurity implementation guide to assist public and private health care sectors prevent cybersecurity incidents. The Cybersecurity Framework Implementation Guide was developed jointly with the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response and the Health Sector Coordinating Council Cybersecurity Working Group. Substantial contributions to the guide were also provided by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and other federal agencies. HHS explained that the guide is intended to help health care organizations implement the 2018 NIST Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity using their existing security measures, stating that the guide should be used to assess current cybersecurity practices and risks and identify gaps for remediation. Among other things, the guide (i) outlines risk management principles and best practices; (ii) provides common language for addressing and managing cyber risk; (iii) lays out a structure for applying cyber risk management; and (iv) identifies “effective standards, guidelines, and practices to manage cybersecurity risk cost-effectively based on business needs.”
NIST releases new AI framework to help organizations mitigate risk
On January 26, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released voluntary guidance to help organizations that design, deploy, or use artificial intelligence (AI) systems mitigate risk. The Artificial Intelligence Risk Management Framework (developed in close collaboration with the private and public sectors pursuant to a Congressional directive under the National Defense Authorization for Fiscal Year 2021), “provides a flexible, structured and measurable process that will enable organizations to address AI risks,” NIST explained. The framework breaks down the process into four high-level functions: govern, map, measure, and manage. These categories, among other things, (i) provide guidance on how to evaluate AI for legal and regulatory compliance and ensure policies, processes, procedures and practices are transparent, robust, and effective; (ii) outline processes for addressing AI risks and benefits arising from third-party software and data; (iii) describe the mapping process for collecting information to establish the context to frame AI-related risks; (iv) provide guidance for employing and measuring “quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-method tools, techniques, and methodologies to analyze, assess, benchmark, and monitor AI risk and related impacts”; and (v) set forth a proposed process for managing and allocating risk management resources. Examples are also provided within the framework to help organizations implement the guidance.
“This voluntary framework will help develop and deploy AI technologies in ways that enable the United States, other nations and organizations to enhance AI trustworthiness while managing risks based on our democratic values,” Deputy Commerce Secretary Don Graves said in the announcement. “It should accelerate AI innovation and growth while advancing—rather than restricting or damaging—civil rights, civil liberties and equity for all.”
CISA releases new cybersecurity performance goals
Recently, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a new report outlining baseline cross-sector cybersecurity performance goals (CPGs) for all critical infrastructure sectors. The report follows a July 2021 national security memorandum issued by President Biden, which required CISA to coordinate with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the interagency community to create fundamental cybersecurity practices for critical infrastructure, primarily to help small- and medium-sized organizations improve their cybersecurity efforts. The CPGs were informed by existing cybersecurity frameworks and guidance, as well as real-world threats and adversary tactics, techniques, and procedures observed by the agency and its partners. CISA noted in the report that the CPGs are not comprehensive but instead “represent a minimum baseline of cybersecurity practices with known risk-reduction value broadly applicable across all sectors, and will be followed by sector-specific goals that dive deeper into the unique constraints, threats, and maturity of each sector where applicable.” Organizations may choose to voluntarily adopt the CPGs in conjunction with broader frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. “The CPGs are a prioritized subset of IT and operational technology (OT) cybersecurity practices that critical infrastructure owners and operators can implement to meaningfully reduce the likelihood and impact of known risks and adversary techniques,” CISA said in its announcement.
NIST to update cybersecurity framework with a focus on supply chain risk
On February 22, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a notice and request for information (RFI) in the Federal Register seeking information to assist in the evaluation and improvement of the agency’s “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” as well as other existing and potentials standards related to supply chain cybersecurity. NIST stated it is considering updating the framework (last updated in 2018) to account for the changing landscape of cybersecurity risks, technologies, and resources, and noted that it recently announced it intends to launch the National Initiative for Improving Cybersecurity in Supply Chains (NIICS) to address cybersecurity risks in this space. Responses to the RFI will help to inform the direction of the NIICS, including how it may be integrated and aligned with the framework. NIST explained that the framework outlines standards and guidance for private and public sector companies on how to prevent and respond to cyber threats. Acknowledging that much has changed in the cybersecurity landscape since the framework was last updated, including an increased awareness and emphasis on supply chain cybersecurity risks, the RFI seeks information that will support the identification and prioritization of supply chain-related cybersecurity needs across sectors. Among other things, NIST is interested in: the usefulness of the framework for managing risks; the relationship of the framework to other NIST risk management resources; and how companies manage security risks to their software supply chains and whether this area of increasing concern should be incorporated into the framework or whether a new, separate framework focusing on cybersecurity supply chain risk management might be more valuable. Comments are due April 25.
NIST issues draft cybersecurity framework to mitigate ransomware events
Recently, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued a draft version of its Cybersecurity Framework Profile for Ransomware Risk Management, which proposes recommended steps for organizations to follow to prevent and mitigate ransomware events. The profile identifies Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.1 security objectives and can be used as a risk-management guide to help gauge an organization’s readiness level. Steps include “identifying and protecting critical data, systems, and devices; detecting ransomware events as early as possible (preferably before the ransomware is deployed); and preparing for responses to and recovery from any ransomware events that do occur.” The profile also outlines basic preventative measures organizations should take, including: (i) using antivirus software at all times to automatically scan emails and flash drives; (ii) ensuring computers are fully patched and running scheduled checks to identify and install new patches; (iii) segmenting internal networks as a precaution against malware; (iv) continuously monitoring directory services (and other primary user stores) to identify indicators of compromise or active attack; (v) blocking access to potentially malicious web resource and allowing only authorized applications; (vi) using standard user accounts; (vii) restricting personally owned devices and the use of personal applications on work computers; (viii) educating employees about social engineering; and (ix) assigning and managing credential authorization and running periodic reviews to ensure each account has the appropriate access only. Among other things, NIST further outlines five cybersecurity framework functions (identify, protect, detect, respond and recover), and advises organizations to develop an incident recovery plan; develop, implement, and test data backups and restoration strategies; and maintain updated contacts for ransomware attacks. According to NIST, taking these proactive measures will help organizations recover from future ransomware events.
CFTC adopts NIST Privacy Framework
On January 28, the CFTC announced that it has adopted the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Privacy Framework, making it the first federal agency to do so. The September NIST release of a preliminary draft of the framework described it as “[a] Tool for Improving Privacy through Enterprise Risk Management,” covered by InfoBytes here. Among other things, the privacy framework, which advances guidance to mitigate cybersecurity risk, describes processes to mitigate risks associated with data processing and privacy breaches and to assess current privacy risk management measures. According to the announcement, the CFTC will utilize the framework to “better manage and communicate privacy risk throughout the agency,” making them a leader in the data privacy protection arena.
NIST publishes updated Big Data Interoperability Framework
On October 21, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) released the second revision of its Big Data Interoperability Framework (NBDIF), which aims to “develop consensus on important, fundamental concepts related to Big Data” with the understanding that Big Data systems have the potential to “overwhelm traditional technical approaches,” to include traditional approaches regarding privacy and data security. Modest updates were made to Volume 4 of the NBDIF, which focuses on privacy and data security, including recommending a layered approach to Big Data system transparency. With respect to transparency, Volume 4 introduces three levels, starting from level 1, which involves a System Communicator that “provides online explanations to users or stakeholders” discussing how information is processed and retained in a Big Data system, as well as records of “what has been disclosed, accepted, or rejected.” And at the most mature levels, transparency includes developing digital ontologies (multi-level architecture for digital data management) across domain-specific Big Data systems to enable adaptable privacy and security configurations based on user characteristics and populations. Largely intact, however, are the Big Data Safety Levels, in Appendix A which are voluntary (standalone) standards regarding best practices for privacy and data security in Big Data systems, and include application security, business continuity, and transparency aspects.
NIST requests comments on draft privacy framework
On September 6, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a preliminary draft of the NIST Privacy Framework: A Tool for Improving Privacy through Enterprise Risk Management to help organizations assess and reduce risks. The draft framework is designed to align with NIST’s Cybersecurity Framework (previously covered by InfoBytes here), which provides guidance that critical infrastructures, including the financial services industry, should voluntarily follow to mitigate cybersecurity risk. The draft framework establishes three components to reinforce privacy risk management: (i) the “Core” describes a set of privacy activities and outcomes used to manage risks that arise from data processing or are associated with privacy breaches; (ii) “Profiles” cover an organization’s current privacy activities or desired outcomes that have been prioritized to manage privacy risk; and (iii) “Implementation Tiers” address how organizations see privacy risk, and whether they have sufficient processes and resources in place to manage that risk. According to NIST, “Finding ways to continue to derive benefits from data while simultaneously protecting individuals’ privacy is challenging, and not well-suited to one-size-fits-all solutions.” Public comments will be accepted through October 24.
National Institute of Standards and Technology issues updated cybersecurity framework
On April 16, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced the release of enhancements to its cybersecurity framework guidance that critical infrastructures, including the financial services industry, should voluntarily follow to mitigate cybersecurity risk. Updates to Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.1 (Framework) incorporate comments received from public feedback, team members, and workshops held over the past two years, as well as stakeholder input on draft versions. Changes include the addition of (i) explanations to clarify that the Framework can be used to promote compliance with an organization’s own cybersecurity requirements; (ii) a cybersecurity risk self-assessment section; (iii) an expanded section addressing ways in which the Framework can be used to manage cybersecurity within the supply chain; (iv) refinements to authentication and identity processes; (v) new language explaining the “relationship between Implementation Tiers and Profiles” in regard to risk management programs; and (vi) a new subcategory on the lifecycle of vulnerability disclosure. The process for which changes are made to the Framework may be viewed on NIST’s website. NIST further notes that both first-time and current Framework users should experience minimal to no disruptions when implementing the updated Framework, and are encouraged to customize the Framework “to maximize individual organizational value.”
As previously covered in InfoBytes, last year President Trump issued an Executive Order directing federal agencies to follow NIST’s Framework to manage cybersecurity risk.
FFIEC Releases FAQs on Cybersecurity Assessment Tool
On October 17, the FFIEC published a Frequently Asked Questions guide related to the Cybersecurity Assessment Tool (Assessment) that was released in Summer 2015. Developed to assist financial institutions identify risks and to assess cybersecurity preparedness, use of the Assessment is voluntary. The FAQs guide explains that management may use the Assessment to determine an institution’s cybersecurity maturity level within five different domains: (i) Cybersecurity Risk Management and Oversight; (ii) Threat Intelligence and Collaboration; (iii) Cybersecurity Controls; (iv) External Dependency Management; and (v) Cyber Incident Management and Resilience. The FAQs guide clarifies that “the Assessment is not designed to identify an overall cybersecurity maturity level.” Regarding third-party oversight, FAQ number 10 explains that the Assessment may be used as a resource for management’s “oversight of third parties as part of the institution’s comprehensive third-party management program.” Additional topics addressed in the FAQs include, but are not limited to, the following: (i) how the Assessment aligns with the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework; (ii) whether an automated version of the Assessment will be released; (iii) the Assessment’s ability to determine an institution’s Inherent Risk Profile; and (iv) the expectations for Inherent Risk Profile levels to align with an institution’s Cybersecurity Maturity.
- Keisha Whitehall Wolfe to discuss “Tips for successfully engaging your state regulator” at the MBA's State and Local Workshop
- Max Bonici to discuss “Enforcement risk and trends for crypto and digital assets (Part 2)” at ABA’s 2023 Business Law Section Hybrid Spring Meeting
- Jedd R. Bellman to present “An insider’s look at handling regulatory investigations” at the Maryland State Bar Association Legal Summit