High-profile cyber security incidents are being reported in the press with increasing regularity.
We have one of the longest-standing privacy and cyber security teams in Europe and have been advising clients since the inception of data protection laws more than 20 years ago. Clients benefit from our deep experience of advising on:
- Some of the most serious hacking and data breach crises in the last decade.
- Effective cyber crisis preparedness – through training, incident response planning, and risk management strategies.
- Governance and resilience arrangements – helping clients review and put appropriate governance structures in place.
When a crisis occurs
The right legal adviser can be pivotal to effectively managing and containing issues like this and thinking ahead before a crisis hits: this is as much about prevention as cure.
In the event of a potential breach, our team is able to:
- act as the core custodian of the facts (typically under legal privilege)
- ensure the right information is available to decision makers, including valuable cyber threat intelligence before an incident occurs
- ensure an accurate and consistent narrative is provided throughout by PR and communications representatives
- support and assist with any internal investigations
- advise on securing and recovering data, including by unorthodox means
- provide necessary legal advice as to the board and management’s reporting responsibilities with an eye to collateral impacts (for example in updating markets)
- liaise with relevant regulators and law enforcement officials across multiple jurisdictions
- advise on dealing with potential claims
We have assisted clients with investigations surrounding the circumstances of a hack or serious cyber incident in which our swift intervention and analysis of the facts meant that there was no need to notify either the regulators of their customers. As a result, these instances remain out of the public domain. We worked closely with the client teams to reach a final resolution that didn’t damage their reputation and avoided any form of litigation.
Examples include advising:
- a supplier to the NHS on one of the largest losses of sensitive personal data in the UK, involving over a million records. As a result of or prompt advice and our client’s quick implementation of mitigations, no regulatory action was taken and the client was not obliged to notify any individual data subjects of the data loss
- a global IT provider on the unauthorised extraction of personal account details (including log in details, passwords and burglar alarm codes) of tens of thousands individuals by a disgruntled employee with previously undiscovered Islamic extremist sympathies. The details extracted included those of close family members of three heads of state, less than two weeks prior to a major inter-governmental conference. Our support involved close liaison with law enforcement and specialist agencies in three European states and resolution of a significant related commercial dispute
We have worked with clients where both regulators and customers have had to be notified of a breach or incident. In these cases, we provided full support and advice on who to tell about the breach and when. This ensured that information become public knowledge only when absolutely necessary, in a manner that ensured the story was carefully and consistently messaged.
Examples include advising:
- a number of global, U.S.-based financial institutions on their notification strategies with data protection authorities in relation to the loss of back-up tapes being transported by subcontractors to long-term storage, some involving many millions of UK customer details
- a German bank before the competent data protection supervisory authority regarding an alleged large-scale unauthorised data loss
- an information services company on the loss of millions of sets of personal data due to a hacker attack and preparing the defence before the competent data protection supervisory authorities
Preparing your organisation
Our team can also assist with putting in place governance and training to help reduce the impact of cyber incidents:
- advise on effective incident response planning and testing, based on our experience in major incidents
- deliver board level scenario training and wider organisational training
- assist with effective vendor risk management including designing procurement and audit processes
- advise on wider privacy compliance issues (e.g. GDPR and the NIS Directive, issues arising from Brexit, request under the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations)
We have a global team of data privacy and cyber security specialists who work closely with our crisis response team to ensure that our clients are benefitting from the depth and breadth of our multi-disciplinary experience.
One of our key assets as a team is our global reach. Linklaters’ internal privacy network spans 14 jurisdictions across Europe and Asia, while our wider network of independent privacy specialists covers over 100 countries.
We have frequent contact with the UK Treasury, Home Office and other government departments, the European Commission, as well as data protection regulators at EU and national levels. These relationships mean that should an incident occur, we have the relationships in place to support our clients as required.