Articles Tagged with Cybersecurity

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SEC Risk Alert regarding safety of customer records and cloud vendor diligence.

As part of its cybersecurity sweep, the SEC has examined risks related to the storage of customer records and information by investment advisers on cloud-based storage platforms and issued a Risk Alert, “Safeguarding Customer Records and Information in Network Storage – Use of Third Party Security Features.” The sweep focused on vendor due diligence and oversight and registered advisers’ monitoring of data and customer information safety.  Among other information, OCIE sought vendor contracts (including service level agreements); vendor reviews; risks assessments of cloud service providers, including data encryption, data loss prevention, books & records exposure, identity and access management; and policies and procedures and their alignment to technology standards.

The Risk Alert identified as the main compliance issues related to cloud-based storage (i) Misconfigured network storage solutions (inadequately configured security settings to protect against unauthorized access; lack of policies and procedures addressing the security configuration);  (ii) Inadequate oversight of vendor-provided network storage solutions (lack of, or inadequate, policies, procedures, contractual provisions that security settings on vendor-provided network storage solutions were configured in accordance with the firm’s standards); and (iii) Insufficient data classification policies and procedures (firms’ policies and procedures did not identify the different types of data stored electronically by the firm and the appropriate controls for each type of data).

The Risk Alert encourages investment advisers to review their practices, policies, and procedures with respect to the electronic storage of customer information and to consider any necessary improvements, and to actively oversee vendors.  The SEC included helpful recommendations for cyber/cloud risk management, including the implementation of policies and procedures designed to support the initial installation, on-going maintenance, and regular review of the network storage solution; guidelines for security controls and baseline security configuration standards to ensure that each network solution is configured properly; and vendor management policies and procedures that include, among other things, regular implementation of software patches and hardware updates followed by reviews to ensure that those patches and updates did not unintentionally change, weaken, or otherwise modify the security configuration.

Please contact your counsel at Pillsbury’s Investment Funds Group if you need help with reviewing and enhancing your cloud storage and related policies.

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In a press release issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 20, 2018, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) announced its 2019 Examination Priorities.

This year’s examination priorities, although not exhaustive, are divided into 6 categories:

  1. Compliance and risk at registrants responsible for critical market infrastructure;
  2. Matters of importance to retail investors, including seniors and those saving for retirement;
  3. FINRA and MSRB;
  4. Digital assets;
  5. Cybersecurity; and
  6. Anti-money laundering programs.

Read the OCIE 2019 Examination Priorities in full HERE.

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Covered businesses will need to update policies and procedures for responding to customer inquiries about collection, use, sale and disclosure of customers’ personal information or face stiff enforcement actions.

Takeaways

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 provides consumers with broad rights to control use of their personal information by covered businesses.
  • Covered businesses will need to review and revise their existing privacy policies to make the required disclosures and to provide two methods for customers to inquire about use of their personal information.

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Read this article and additional Pillsbury publications at Pillsbury Insights.

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This alert contains a summary of the primary annual and periodic compliance-related obligations that may apply to investment advisers registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Advisers”), and commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) and commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) (collectively with Investment Advisers, “Managers”).[1]  Due to the length of this Alert, we have linked the topics to the Table of Contents and other subtitles for easy click-access.

This summary consists of the following segments: (i) List of Annual Compliance Deadlines; (ii) New Developments; (iii) 2018 National Exam Program Examination Priorities; (iv) Continuing Compliance Areas; and (v) Securities and Other Forms Filings.

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Read this article and additional Pillsbury publications at Pillsbury Insights.

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The following are some of the important annual compliance obligations investment advisers either registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Adviser”) and commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) or commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) should be aware of.

This summary consists of the following segments: (i) List of Annual Compliance Deadlines; (ii) 2017 Enforcement Priorities In The Alternative Space; (iii) New Developments; and (iv) Continuing Compliance Areas.

Table of Contents

Page

Table of Annual Compliance Deadlines……………………………………………………………. 3

2017 Enforcement Priorities In The Alternative Space………………………………………. 5

New Developments………………………………………………………………………………………. 7

 

CONTINUE READING…

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The ERISA Advisory Council recently announced that, as part of its goals for 2016, it will be focusing on cybersecurity issues affecting retirement plans and, in particular, the extent to which such issues relate to third-party administrators and vendors (TPAs) of retirement plans. By shining the spotlight on the role of TPAs in combatting cyber-related threats to retirement plans, this announcement
demonstrates that retirement plan sponsors would be well-served to proactively assess the cyber risk profiles of their retirement plans. Specifically, retirement plan sponsors should focus on developing and implementing a comprehensive and effective risk management strategy that includes, among other actions, the implementation and periodic review of contractual protections in arrangements
with their plans’ TPAs.

This advisory is the second in a series of advisories dedicated to understanding cybersecurity issues.

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Read this article and additional publications at pillsburylaw.com/publications-and-presentations.  You can also download a copy of the Client Alert here.

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At the end of this month, the annual updating amendments for investment advisers’ Form ADV will be due. The following are some of the important annual compliance obligations investment advisers either registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or with a particular state (“Investment Adviser”) and commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) or commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”) registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) should be aware of.

This summary consists of the following segments: (i) List of Annual Compliance Deadlines; (ii) 2016 Enforcement Priorities In The Alternative Space; (iii) New Developments; and (iv) Continuing Compliance Areas.

See the deadlines below and in red

CONTINUE READING…

 

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Investment managers, particularly high priority cybercrime targets, such as hedge funds and quantitative strategy managers, are encouraged to consider the government-industry information sharing option and liability protection afforded by the new legislation.  For more information, please contact the Investment Fund and Investment Management group.

On Tuesday, October 27, the U.S. Senate approved legislation, strongly supported by business groups, that would facilitate information sharing between government and industry and provide liability protection to companies that participate. The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 74-21, setting the stage for a House-Senate conference committee that will work to resolve differences between CISA and similar legislation passed by the House in April and to prepare a final bill to be considered by both chambers of Congress for potential enactment into law.

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Read this article and additional publications at pillsburylaw.com/publications-and-presentations.  You can also download a copy of the Client Alert.

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Brian Finch, a partner in Pillsbury’s Public Policy Practice, will be speaking on cybersecurity at a 100WHF event in San Francisco on October 13, 2015.  The event is titled Under Attack: Cyberdefense in the Network Age. Mr. Finch is recognized as a leading legal authority on matters related to cyber security.  He co-authored an article on Cybercrimes affecting hedge funds, posted in our blog.

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Threats go way beyond simple theft of client information — Can you fend off a big heist?

Recently, the government identified hedge funds as a “weak link in the U.S. financial system’s defense against hackers and terrorists.” The messenger was no less than John Carlin, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, speaking at this year’s annual SALT hedge fund conference in Las Vegas. Since then, there have been reports that some of the biggest names in asset management and banking were affected by cyber-attacks. It is, in fact, a Who’s Who of asset managers, banks, and brokers.

This February, the SEC’s summary of its cybersecurity sweep has revealed that over three-quarters of the 100 brokers and advisers examined were subject to cyber-attacks, directly or through third-party service providers, even though upward of 80% of broker and adviser firms have implemented cybersecurity policies. The SEC followed up with guidance in April, making it clear that it intends to conduct more exams of advisers. These exams will be “more substantial,” with longer onsite visits and sit-down meetings with senior management.

Yet for all the heartburn caused by these SEC examinations, they seem to be only scratching the surface when it comes to the types of cyber-threats confronting hedge funds.

The SEC notes that it is focusing on protecting “client assets” by reviewing security measures such as password storage and the vetting of third parties. Those kinds of questions and exam goals indicate that the SEC is mostly interested in protecting against the theft of client data and information. But those are by no means the only potentially damaging threats faced by investment advisers nor are they the only ones that can impact investor assets.

As Carlin pointed out in his comments, hedge funds are a particularly desirable target for criminal cartels, foreign governments, and militaries around the world, basically anyone seeking profit, disruption in financial systems, or both. Hedge funds have valuable and vast assets, including their trading strategies and trades, as well as algorithms, in addition to those the SEC is worried about. Hedge funds are also easier to hack than banks, which have recently reinforced their cybersecurity defenses and, unlike most hedge funds, have teams available to handle the threats.

All hedge fund managers and investment advisers should therefore question how effective their cybersecurity controls are in light of the following real threats posed by cyber-criminals:

  • Hacking and stealing your strategy and algorithms. They will use your own and your employees’ handheld and portable devices, social media posts, and blogs, for phishing and otherwise hacking your internal systems. They will use high-frequency trading algorithms to steal your proprietary trade information in order to front-run you or otherwise engage in manipulative trading. They will steal and use your algorithms to replicate your strategy.
  • Blackmailing and extortion. They will hack and encrypt your data, and blackmail you for payment in return for your data. The Department of Justice is reportedly working with several hedge funds on just such cyber-extortion cases, as Carlin remarked.
  • Corrupting your data and crippling your trading process: They will use a form of malware that will intentionally distort or change data, making information unreliable at best or useless at worst. Perhaps even worse, the corruption of proprietary algorithms used to make investment decisions could go unnoticed for some time. In that event, advisers and their clients face losses, regulatory action, and reputational damage following the disclosure – likely mandatory — of such an incident.
  • Wiping your data: Perhaps the most dreaded of all attacks: hackers have repeatedly demonstrated their ability to literally wipe servers clean of data. Victims are left scrambling to reconstruct files either from scattered data backups or even paper records. This process is extremely laborious and time- consuming, and is not guaranteed in any way to completely restore records. In fact, this type of event is virtually guaranteed to put a broker/dealer or investment adviser out of business, as the reputational damage alone will likely be catastrophic.
  • Disrupting your operations: Too many companies take for granted the availability of their information technology systems. And, when those systems fail, managers tend to assume a technical fault that can be resolved quickly. As the cyber-attack on Sony Pictures proved, however, any company can be paralyzed by the deliberate introduction of malware, which also happened in 2013 to a large hedge fund. A well-crafted attack can render a company unable to do business for months at a time. Unfortunately, the tools and skills needed to conduct such an attack against you are readily available across the globe.

The key takeaway is this: just focusing on making sure hackers don’t break into accounts to steal investor information is not enough. There are many other ways hackers can wreak havoc, and the financial industry has to be prepared to respond to that wide variety of scenarios.

Stay tuned for our article on tips to prevent, detect and respond to cyber-attacks.

Ildiko Duckor is a partner and co-head of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s Investment Funds and Investment Management Practice. She specializes in hedge funds. She can be reached at ildiko.duckor@pillsburylaw.com or 415-983-1035.

Brian Finch (@BrianEFinch) is a partner in Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP’s Public Policy Practice. He specializes in cybersecurity. He can be reached at brian.finch@pillsburylaw.com or 202-663-8062.