IT Security Trends in the Era of COVID: Our Top Five Tips for Making Your Network Safer in 2021

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As the COVID era drags on, it is clear that work life “post-COVID” may be very different from life “pre-COVID.” This is especially true as it relates to IT security. More and more employees have shifted to a telecommuting work model, and for many businesses that may be the case for an indefinite period of time. This raises important questions as to which security improvements or other changes IT departments need to make in 2021 to keep their businesses and client data safer from cyberattacks.

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Cyber Attackers Threaten COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Chain

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As COVID-19 vaccine approvals and eventual distribution kicks into high gear, there has been a corresponding – and not particularly surprising – increase in cyber threat activity targeting both vaccine producers and other companies involved in the vaccine distribution chain. Most notably, “cold chain” companies responsible for safely storing and transporting the vaccines have been targeted. The problem has become so severe that both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) recently issued a joint security alert on December 3, 2020 highlighting the risk to the coronavirus vaccine distribution chain.

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Multiple Federal Agencies Jointly Warn of Increased and Imminent Cybercrime Threat to U.S. Hospitals and Healthcare Providers

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On October 28, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory warning of “an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.” The agencies collectively warned that “malicious cyber actors are targeting the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector with Trickbot malware, often leading to ransomware attacks, data theft, and the disruption of healthcare services.”

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Community Health Systems Enters Into Five-Million-Dollar, Multi-State Settlement Agreement in Connection with 2014 Data Breach

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On October 8, 2020, Community Health Systems, Inc. (Community Health) and its subsidiary CHSPSC, LLC entered into a settlement agreement with 28 states for $5 million to resolve claims related to a 2014 data breach. Community Health owns over 200 hospitals across the United States and is one of the largest hospital networks in the country. The multi-state settlement follows a separate $2.3 million settlement that Community Health reached with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS-OCR) in connection with the same data breach.

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Ransomware Payments May Violate Sanctions Laws, U.S. Treasury Department Warns

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Ransomware attacks are on the rise in the wake of COVID-19, but attack victims — and third parties who assist them — could unknowingly be in violation of federal law. A new advisory from the U.S. Department of the Treasury warns that ransom payments to sanctioned individuals or entities may result in significant criminal or civil liability. Companies should closely review the details of this advisory to minimize the risk of violating the U.S. sanctions laws if they are victimized by a ransomware attack.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. Agrees to Pay $650,000 to Settle 2019 Data Breach Lawsuit Brought by the New York Attorney General’s Office

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On September 15, 2020, the New York Attorney General’s Office (NYAG) announced a settlement with Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. (Dunkin) in connection with a September 2019 lawsuit brought by the NYAG against Dunkin for alleged failures to adequately respond to cyberattacks that impacted approximately 300,000 customers. The proposed settlement—which still must be approved by the court—requires Dunkin to, among other things, notify customers impacted by the attacks, maintain specific cybersecurity procedures to prevent future cyberattacks, and pay $650,000 in penalties.

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