Cybersecurity 2017: The Year in Preview

February 8, 2017

Introduction

Cybersecurity was a prominent factor in 2016 in all aspects of government, business and personal affairs. Russian and other foreign national hacking has the potential to spark a new form of cold (cyber)war with the United States. Breaches and cyber threats affecting tens of millions of individuals as well as companies are not only ubiquitous, they’re the new normal.

As Massachusetts Attorney General in the last decade, responding to one of the first massive consumer data breaches at TJX Corporation, we saw the beginning of the world we now live in. With the state’s then new statute and data privacy regulations, Massachusetts implemented robust means of protecting average consumers’ personal confidential information.

As our “Cybersecurity – 2017” articles highlight, cybersecurity threats and harms have only continued to increase, as has the need to protect our consumers and businesses. Eric Schulwolf looks at some of the emerging threats, examining the increase in 2016 of the pernicious rise of ransomware and imagining what new security dangers 2017 will bring. Chris Cifrino turns his attention to the unique problems facing the energy grid and how energy companies should be thinking about cybersecurity. Jeremy Meisinger analyzes changes to HIPAA compliance, a vitally important question for those who must contend with HIPAA’s dauntingly complex set of privacy regulations. Steve Bychowski takes time out from thinking about consumer information and examines the increasing threat to company trade secret information. Finally, Steve Bartlett and Chris Hart look at state and federal enforcement, respectively, in the face of changing political winds.

As our authors note, 2017 brings both challenge and opportunity in the realm of cybersecurity. The challenge is that the threats we face will overwhelm us, forcing stakeholders to remain permanently in a defensive crouch. But the opportunity remains to identify how the scaffolding of cybersecurity is changing, as well as to craft and model of preventive and mitigating solutions that will work now and in a rapidly changing future.

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