In the early hours of Friday, 13 May, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached provisional political agreement on a new framework EU cybersecurity law, known as “NIS2”. This new law, which will replace the existing NIS Directive (which was agreed around the same time as GDPR, see here) aims to strengthen EU-wide cybersecurity protection across a broader range of sectors, including the pharmaceutical sector, medical device manufacturing, and the food sector.

We set out background on NIS2 in prior blog posts (e.g., in relation to the original proposal in late 2020, see here, and more recently when the Council of the EU adopted an updated version in December 2021). Whilst we are still waiting for the provisionally agreed text to be released, a few points are worth mentioning from this latest agreement:

  • Clearer delineation of scope. NIS2 will only apply to entities that meet certain size thresholds in the prescribed sectors, namely
    • “essential entities” meaning those operating in the following sectors: energy; transport; banking; financial market infrastructures; health (including the manufacture of pharmaceutical products); drinking water; waste water; digital infrastructure (internet exchange points; DNS providers; TLD name registries; cloud computing service providers; data centre service providers; content delivery networks; trust service providers; and public electronic communications networks and electronic communications services); public administration; and space; and
    • “important entities”, meaning those operating in the following sectors: postal and courier services; waste management; chemicals; food; manufacturing of medical devices, computers and electronics, machinery equipment, motor vehicles; and digital providers (online market places, online search engines, and social networking service platforms).


Continue Reading Political Agreement Reached on New EU Horizontal Cybersecurity Directive

On April 20, 2022, the cybersecurity authorities of the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom—the so-called “Five Eye” governments—announced the publication of Alert AA22-110A, a Joint Cybersecurity Advisory (the “Advisory”) warning critical infrastructure organizations throughout the world that the Russian invasion of Ukraine could expose them “to increased malicious cyber activity from Russian state-sponsored cyber actors or Russian-aligned cybercrime groups.”  The Advisory is intended to update a January 2022 Joint Cybersecurity Advisory, which provided an overview of Russian state-sponsored cyber operations and tactics, techniques, and procedures (“TTPs”).

In its announcement, the authorities urged critical infrastructure network defenders in particular “to prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats by hardening their cyber defenses” as recommended in the Advisory.

Overview.  The Advisory notes that “evolving intelligence” indicates that the Russian government is exploring options for potential cyber attacks and that some cybercrime groups have recently publicly pledged support for the Russian government and threatened to conduct cyber operations on behalf of the Russian government.  The Advisory summarizes TTPs used by five state-sponsored advanced persistent threat (“APT”) groups, two Russian-aligned cyber threat groups, and eight Russian-aligned cybercrime groups.  Additionally, it provides a list of mitigations and suggests that critical infrastructure organizations should implement certain mitigations “immediately.”

Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Operations.  The Advisory notes that Russian state-sponsored cyber actors have “demonstrated capabilities” to compromise networks; maintain long-term, persistent access to networks; exfiltrate sensitive data from information technology (“IT”) and operational technology (“OT”) networks; and disrupt critical industrial control systems (“ICS”) and OT networks by deploying destructive malware.  The Advisory details five Russian APT groups:
Continue Reading International Cybersecurity Authorities Issue Joint Advisory on Russian Cyber Threats to Critical Infrastructure

On February 4, 2022, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) published its Recommended Criteria for Cybersecurity Labeling for Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) Products (“IoT Criteria”).  The IoT Criteria make recommendations for cybersecurity labeling for consumer IoT products, in other words, for IoT products intended for personal, family, or household use.

The purpose of the publication, as described by NIST, is to identify “key elements of a potential labeling scheme.”  The publication makes clear, however, that the scheme would not be established or managed by NIST, but rather “by another organization or program,” referred to in the publication as the “scheme owner.”  The identity of the scheme owner is undetermined, but it “could be a public or private sector” entity.

The publication of the IoT Criteria represents another step toward a national cybersecurity labeling scheme for consumer IoT products.  We should expect that the framework established by NIST in this publication will serve as a model for these requirements.

IoT Criteria Framework.  The IoT Criteria establish recommended considerations for three key aspects of a potential cybersecurity IoT labeling program:

  1. Baseline Product Criteria
  2. Labeling
  3. Conformity Assessments


Continue Reading NIST Publishes Recommended Criteria for Cybersecurity Labeling for Consumer Internet of Things (IoT) Products

This is the ninth in a series of Covington blogs on implementation of Executive Order 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity,” issued by President Biden on May 12, 2021 (the “Cyber EO”).  The first blog summarized the Cyber EO’s key provisions and timelines, and the secondthirdfourthfifthsixthseventh, and eighth blogs described the actions taken by various government agencies to implement the EO from June through December 2021, respectively.

This blog summarizes key actions taken to implement the Cyber EO during January 2022.  As with steps taken during prior months, the actions described below reflect the implementation of the EO within Government.  However, these activities portend further actions in February 2022 that are likely to impact government contractors, particularly those who provide software products or services to government agencies.

National Security Memorandum Issued on Application of Cyber EO Requirements to National Security Systems

On January 19, 2022, President Biden signed National Security Memorandum-8, “Memorandum on Improving the Cybersecurity of National Security, Department of Defense, and Intelligence Community Systems” (the NSM).  The NSM sets forth requirements for National Security Systems (NSS) that are equivalent to or exceed the cyber requirements for Federal Information Systems set forth in the Cyber EO. The NSM also establishes methods for obtaining exceptions to these requirements for unique mission needs.

Section 1 of the NSM addresses how requirements set forth in the Cyber EO will be applied to NSS.  In general, NSS are systems that involve:  intelligence activities, cryptologic activities related to national security, command and control of military forces, equipment that is an integral part of a weapon or weapons system, or are critical to the direct fulfillment of military or intelligence missions.[1]  The NSM states that Cyber EO Sections 1 (“Policy”) and 2 (“Removing Barriers to Sharing Threat Information”) apply to NSS in their entirety, except that the Director of the National Security Agency (“NSA”) (defined as the “National Manager”) shall exercise with respect to NSS the authorities granted the OMB Director and the Secretary of Homeland Security under Section 2 of the Cyber EO.  This means, among other things, that companies that contract with DOD and other national security agencies and whose performance involves NSS, may be subject to the cyber incident reporting and standard contractual clauses promulgated in the Federal Acquisition Regulation pursuant to section 2 of the Cyber EO.

Section 1 of the NSM also requires the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS) and the national security/intelligence agencies to take several actions to modernize NSS consistent with Section 3 of the Cyber EO.  For example, the NSM requires all agencies that own or operate NSS to update their existing plans to use cloud technology and to develop plans to implement Zero Trust Architecture by March 18, 2022.  The NSM further requires owners or operators of NSS to implement multifactor authentication and encryption of data-in-transit and data-at-rest on such systems by July 18, 2022.  The NSM also requires NSS owners and operators to adhere to the standards for enhancing software supply chain security developed under section 4 of the Cyber EO except where “otherwise authorized by law” or where the National Manager grants an exception.  Section 3 of the NSM sets forth the procedures and conditions for granting exceptions to NSS from the requirements of the Cyber EO.

In addition to the requirements described above, the NSM requires national security agencies to adhere to a process to be developed by the Director of NSA to identify and then inventory the NSS under their control according by April 19, 2022.  This guidance and inventory will be critical to defining the scope of application of the requirements of the memorandum.

The NSM also requires such agencies to report all known or suspected compromises of or unauthorized access to such NSS to the Director of NSA in accordance with procedures to be developed by the Director of NSA.  The NSM authorizes the Director of NSA to issue Emergency Directives and Binding Operational Directives to NSS owners and operators that are similar to the directives that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is authorized to issue to civilian agencies.
Continue Reading January 2022 Developments Under President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order

On 22 December 2021, the conference of German data protection supervisory authorities (“DSK”) published its Guidance for Providers of Telemedia Services (Orientierungshilfe für Anbieter von Telemedien).  Particularly relevant for providers of websites and mobile applications, the Guidance is largely devoted to the “cookie provision” of the German Telecommunication and Telemedia Privacy Act (TTDSG),

On January 4, 2022, the Federal Trade Commission published a warning to companies and their vendors to take reasonable steps to remediate the Log4j vulnerability (CVE-2021-44228).  The FTC provided a list of recommended remedial actions for companies using the Log4j software.  The FTC’s warning references obligations under the FTC Act and Gramm Leach Bliley Act

On December 15, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) announced the publication of a warning for “critical infrastructure owners and operators to take immediate steps to strengthen their computer network defenses against potential malicious cyber attacks” before the upcoming holiday season.  CISA’s warning emphasizes that “[s]ophisticated threat actors

On November 5, 2021, an Editorial Note was added to the Federal Register stating “An agency letter requesting withdrawal of this document was received after placement on public inspection. The document will remain on public inspection through close of business November 4, 2021. A copy

In a December 2020 speech, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael Granston warned that cybersecurity fraud could see enhanced enforcement under the False Claims Act (“FCA”).  On October 6, 2021, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced that the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) would be following through on that warning with the launch of the DOJ’s Civil