Perimeter
1/20/2012
06:23 PM
Commentary
Commentary
Commentary
50%
50%

Breach Notification: Know The Rules

State and federal laws require notification when a breach of protected information occurs. You need to know which laws apply and how to comply

The vast majority of states and territories in the United States have rules requiring organizations managing personal information to notify affected parties if their private information has been breached.

However, the laws differ from state to state in the way they define personal information, the requirements for who needs to be notified, and how notification must take place. Add to this the fact that federal laws also require breach notification, and we see that organizations caring for personal identifying data have their work cut out for them in understanding which rules apply and how they can ensure they’ll comply in the event of a breach.

Which Rules Apply?
The key point to remember when determining which laws apply to your organization is that state laws are written to protect the residents of a state. This means you need to comply with the state laws applying to the people whose data you manage. In other words, if you have customers or employees from Massachusetts, then even though your business is located in New Hampshire, you need to comply with the Massachusetts data protection and breach notification laws.

If it seems like it a difficult task to understand and comply with upward of 50 different state and territorial laws, you get the message. It should also be clear why every year the U.S. Congress attempts to define federal data protection laws that would supersede these state laws. For better or worse, efforts at the national level have not succeeded, and we are left with the laws of the various states (in addition to the federal laws applying to financial and health information).

State breach notification laws have more in common than not. For example, these laws define personal information as a person’s first and last name, or first initial and last name, together with one or more other pieces of sensitive information. The obvious ones are Social Security number, driver’s license number, and credit card numbers. One area where differences tend to occur is banking information. For example, Massachusetts considers a bank account number (again, with a name) a piece of personal identifying information, even if there is no PIN or password that would allow a perpetrator to use the account. California, on the other hand, requires the presence of a PIN or password to make the account number a piece of protected data.

The first step in ensuring compliance with breach notification laws is knowing whose data you have. That means keeping accurate records of whose data you store, where they live, and where the data resides. Once you understand that, you can identify the laws that apply. Next, you can identify the particular pieces of information that you need to protect and understand the kind of breaches that would require you to notify the victims as well as state authorities.

In the next posting, I’ll talk about what constitutes a breach (and what doesn’t) and the mechanics of notification.

Richard Mackey is vice president of consulting at SystemExperts Corp.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Title Partner’s Role in Perimeter Security
Considering how prevalent third-party attacks are, we need to ask hard questions about how partners and suppliers are safeguarding systems and data.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2013-6501
Published: 2015-03-30
The default soap.wsdl_cache_dir setting in (1) php.ini-production and (2) php.ini-development in PHP through 5.6.7 specifies the /tmp directory, which makes it easier for local users to conduct WSDL injection attacks by creating a file under /tmp with a predictable filename that is used by the get_s...

CVE-2014-9209
Published: 2015-03-30
Untrusted search path vulnerability in the Clean Utility application in Rockwell Automation FactoryTalk Services Platform before 2.71.00 and FactoryTalk View Studio 8.00.00 and earlier allows local users to gain privileges via a Trojan horse DLL in an unspecified directory.

CVE-2014-9652
Published: 2015-03-30
The mconvert function in softmagic.c in file before 5.21, as used in the Fileinfo component in PHP before 5.4.37, 5.5.x before 5.5.21, and 5.6.x before 5.6.5, does not properly handle a certain string-length field during a copy of a truncated version of a Pascal string, which might allow remote atta...

CVE-2014-9653
Published: 2015-03-30
readelf.c in file before 5.22, as used in the Fileinfo component in PHP before 5.4.37, 5.5.x before 5.5.21, and 5.6.x before 5.6.5, does not consider that pread calls sometimes read only a subset of the available data, which allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service (uninitialized memory ...

CVE-2014-9705
Published: 2015-03-30
Heap-based buffer overflow in the enchant_broker_request_dict function in ext/enchant/enchant.c in PHP before 5.4.38, 5.5.x before 5.5.22, and 5.6.x before 5.6.6 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via vectors that trigger creation of multiple dictionaries.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Good hackers--aka security researchers--are worried about the possible legal and professional ramifications of President Obama's new proposed crackdown on cyber criminals.