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Wyndham vs. FTC: Corporate security pros need to lawyer up about data breach protection, experts say

Tim Greene | Aug. 26, 2015
U.S. court ruling says FTC does have the authority to punish businesses over stolen customer data.

The FTC doesn’t issue a list of specific protections that businesses must provide in order to avoid being cited for failing to deliver reasonable security, but it’s likely that CSOs and others charged with protecting customer data who try to meet a higher standard - corporate best practices for security - won’t run afoul of the commission, she says.

Security pros who try to keep up with defending against the latest known threats should be in good shape, Sotto says. Over the past two years the FTC has gotten better at keeping up with what steps are reasonable, and has hired a chief technologist to lead that effort.

Some guidance from the FTC would be welcome, says Pat Clawson, CEO of Blancco Technology Group. He says the FTC is “more trusting and willing to work together towards a resolution with a company ‘that has reported a breach to the appropriate law enforcers and cooperated with them.’ So setting up written parameters around how those steps are taken – and the subsequent communication around it – could very well impact which businesses fall into the good graces of the FTC and which ones become top targets for investigation and court cases.”

Wyndham could appeal the 3rd Circuit’s decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the court would have to decide to hear it, Sotto says, and that’s a very difficult thing to make happen.


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