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Understanding IT Security and Cybersecurity Laws

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By Jamal Hartenstein, JD, CISSP, CGEIT, PMP

(ISC)², a leading cybersecurity and IT security professional organization, is holding their annual Security Congress event in Orlando in a few months. At the conference, I will be presenting a panel called “Behind the Text: Laws on Data Privacy, Consumer Rights and Cybersecurity, Deconstructed.” Today I am sharing a little bit of insight into what I will delve further into at the (ISC)² event.

Data privacy and cybersecurity laws shape many aspects of an organization, from influencing the operational decisions an organization makes to the way IT security professionals do their jobs.

The purpose of data privacy laws is to provide regulatory compliance measures to protect personal data—depending on the industry, this could be the data of consumers, customers, private citizens, or others. Typically, the laws align with IT security frameworks (often created by academics or other experts) and companies write their data privacy policies to comply with laws and adhere to frameworks.

But, what’s missing? When you deconstruct the text of the laws that govern an organization’s industry—think private sector financial, health insurance, banking, etc.—you may find loopholes or obligations you didn’t know existed. Organizations can save themselves a lot of time and money by understanding the scope of their legal obligations.

Legislation is increasingly shaping the IT security professional’s field. Some laws that currently govern IT security have been on the books for 100+ years, but only recently have been interpreted to cover data privacy and cybersecurity violations. These changing legal interpretations, along with the new laws being put on the books, means that there’s a level of legal understanding that can be daunting for organizations and the security professionals they employ. Collectively, we need to dissect the wording used in the popular data privacy and cybersecurity laws and break it down so IT professionals can truly understand what we’re working with.

As an IT Security professional, I understand the threats, technology, and strategies to mitigate threats. Having a legal background makes it easier for me to understand laws that determine exposure to compliance obligations and laws that influence how I develop strategies. For example, when organizations comply with a deletion request, or “the right to be forgotten” (aka: of your own personal data records held with an organization), this can be an expensive process, especially if the data is on offsite backups and housed with third party data processors. But the law is particularly tricky with explanations on why, how, and when an organization must process a deletion request, or even if the request must be performed at all. Consequently, a lot of time and money can be saved if IT Security professionals understand the text of the laws.

Interested in learning more? During my discussion at the (ISC)² Security Congress, we’ll cover the following:

  • Identifying loopholes in laws. For example, whether you must comply with a consumer’s request to be “forgotten”/deleted.
  • Identifying widely unknown obligations. For example, the requirement to appoint an EU Representative under GDPR, distinguished from the DPO.
  • Understanding the rights of the consumers regarding data privacy provisions and IT security obligations.
  • Understanding factors used to determine whether you must comply with data privacy and cybersecurity laws…and to what extent.

Want to find out how to deconstruct and understand security law? Attend my panel at the (ISC)² Security Congress in October—I hope you see you there!

About the Author: IT Security Program Manager at KAI Partners, Jamal Hartenstein is a cybersecurity legal expert who has helped some of the country’s largest financial institutions, healthcare companies, and federal agencies develop their IT Security Roadmap programs. In his current role, Jamal provides guidance to executive staff and security professionals on laws, frameworks, and policies that help shape their strategic plan, and helps organizations innovate safely and securely. Prior to working for KAI Partners, Jamal served as an Electronic Warfare Sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps, where he was a steward for Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) framework. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia Military College and his Juris Doctorate from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in California.