States enact safe harbor laws against cyberattacks, but demand…
Connecticut might soon follow Ohio and Utah by enacting a law that offers liability protection against ransomware and other cyberattacks, but only if victims follow security best practices.
While sophisticated ransomware and nation-state threat actors target US critical infrastructure, the only protection most organizations have against these attacks is tight and effective cybersecurity. These attacks have drawn government attention and sparked calls for liability protection against malicious intrusions. If organizations want this protection, however, lawmakers say they need to step up their game to implement better cybersecurity practices.
During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last month, Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) said, “While I am very open to some level of liability protection, I’m not interested in a liability protection that excuses the kind of sloppy behavior, for example, that took place in Equifax, where they didn’t even do the basic cyber hygiene.”
“Cyber hygiene” is not enough, as former National Security Council (NSC) cybersecurity director Robert Knake recently wrote. “Basic cybersecurity hygiene, such as strong passwords, multifactor authentication, vulnerability patching, and next-generation antivirus software, is not sufficient against these groups,” Knake wrote. “Instead, organizations should invest in security and operational vigilance, as these actors will take advantage of any mistake that defenders make.”
Against the backdrop of this heightened federal-level focus, a number of states have quietly moved forward with their own liability exemption measures that seek to boost best cybersecurity practices. These states have enacted laws that incentivize the adoption of robust and thorough industry-leading cybersecurity frameworks and recommendations such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework or the Center for Internet Security’s (CIS) Critical Security Controls by making them requirements for obtaining liability protections.
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