In the most recent edition of his CyberSide Chat series, Socially Aware contributor Andy Serwin discusses ransomware attacks, including:

  • the reasons why ransomware attacks are becoming more common;
  • the types of ransomware attacks companies should prepare to address; and
  • the strategies that companies can employ to help guard against, and to help mitigate the damage arising from, these types of cybersecurity breaches.

Andy explains not only the defenses that companies can implement to protect themselves against a ransomware attack, but also the issues a ransomware-attack-response plan must address—a topic that another Socially Aware contributor, Nate Taylor, tackled in his Sept. 26, 2016 blog post 5 Questions to Help Prepare For a Ransomware Attack.

Check out Andy’s insightful presentation:

Twitter is suing the Department of Homeland Security in an attempt to void a summons demanding records that would identify the creator of an anti-Trump Twitter account.

Facebook has joined the fight against the nonconsensual dissemination of sexually explicit photos online—content known as “revenge porn”—by having specially trained employees review images flagged by users and using photo-matching technologies to help stop revenge porn images from being shared on the company’s apps and platforms.

Amid its own revenge porn scandal, the U.S. Marines Corps has expanded its social media policy to clarify how military code can be used to prosecute members’ offensive or disrespectful online activities.

A Minnesota judge has ordered Google to disclose all searches for the name of the victim of a wire-fraud crime worth less than $30,000.

Scientists are studying the use of emoji in human interactions, marketing campaigns and business transactions. Here at Socially Aware we’ve taken a look at the difficulty that courts have had in evaluating the meaning of emoji in connection with contract, tort and other legal claims.

Did the White House’s social media director violate the Hatch Act with a tweet?

In the interest of maintaining big-spending advertisers’ business, Google is trying to teach computers the nuances of what makes content objectionable.

The upcoming desktop version of the popular mobile dating app Tinder, Tinder Online, prompts users to talk more and swipe less.

One jet-setting couple with a combined three million Instagram followers is earning between $3,000 and $9,000 per post.

The New York Times’s Brian Chen walks readers through some of the most worthwhile apps and tech gadgets in the pet-care category.

GettyImages-538899668-600pxWith corporate data security breaches on the rise, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) has adopted rules requiring financial institutions to take certain measures to safeguard their data and inform state regulators about cybersecurity incidents. Intended to thwart future cyberattacks and protect consumers, those “Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies” (the “Cybersecurity Rule” or “Rule”) finally took effect on March 1, 2017. The NYDFS has released guidance on how to follow the Rule, it comes in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and a summary of key compliance dates. Although the guidance is apparently intended to assist covered financial institutions as the clock ticks towards the first of the Rule’s phased compliance deadlines less than six months away, the guidance is unlikely to make the implementation challenges many financial institutions will face any less daunting.

The Cybersecurity Rule requires that covered financial institutions, among other things, adopt detailed programs, policies and procedures to protect Information Systems (which are defined to include essentially any computer or networked electronic system) and certain sensitive business and consumer information (“Nonpublic Information”) from cybersecurity threats.

The Rule is narrower and less prescriptive than the original proposal from September 2016 (and largely the same as the second proposal from December 2016). Nonetheless, covered financial institutions now have less than six months to establish compliance with the first of the Cybersecurity Rule’s requirements. This means covered financial institutions will quickly need to: (1) assess the current state of their information security programs and what modifications may be required based on the specific policies and controls required by the Rule; and (2) consider the new processes that may need to be created to meet the Rule’s reporting, recordkeeping and certification requirements. Continue Reading N.Y.’s New Cybersecurity Regulations: What Financial Services Companies Need to Know

A court ruled that a particular 98-character tweet wasn’t sufficiently creative to warrant protection under German copyright law.

Inspired by a recording posted to Snapchat of a physical attack on a 14-year-old boy, a California bill would make it illegal to “willfully record a video of the commission of a violent felony pursuant to a conspiracy with the perpetrator.”

Instagram just made it easier to identify sponsored content —something required by the FTC’s endorsement guides.

Thirty-five states and the District of Columbia now have laws that make it illegal to distribute sexually explicit photos online without the subject’s permission—content known as “revenge porn” or “non-consensual pornography.” This article explores the efficacy of those laws and other legal-recourse options.

A proposed state law would prohibit employers in Texas from discriminating against employees and prospective employees based on the political beliefs they express on their personal social media accounts (and in any other non-work-related place).

A drone helped New York City fire fighters to extinguish a building fire for the very first time.

As part of its crusade against fake news, Facebook teamed up with non-partisan fact-checkers including Snopes to flag stories that are “disputed.”

The Wall Street Journal interviewed industry experts about the challenges and opportunities artificial intelligence will present for businesses.

A Facebook Messenger chatbot created by 20-year-old helps refugees seeking asylum by asking them a series of jargon-free questions to determine which application they need to submit.

The addition of a live-streaming feature helped a dating app in China to generate $194.8 million in revenue during Q4 alone.

While we’re on the subject of dating, is flirting on LinkedIn a faux pas?

CheerUniformsDecisionImageOn March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court held in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands that design elements of cheerleading uniforms may be protected under the Copyright Act. The 6-2 decision, written by Justice Thomas, clarified the scope of protection afforded to clothing designs and, more broadly, designs on useful articles.

Varsity Brands, Inc.—the country’s largest cheerleading supplier—owns more than 200 copyright registrations for two-dimensional designs consisting of combinations of chevrons, stripes, and other colorful shapes for its cheerleading uniforms. At issue in this case were the five pictured designs.

Varsity Brands sued Star Athletica, LLC, an upstart competitor, for copyright infringement. The District Court for the Western District of Tennessee granted Star Athletica’s motion for summary judgment, holding that the designs could not be conceptually or physically separated from the uniforms, and they were therefore ineligible for copyright protection. The Copyright Act makes “pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features” of the “design of a useful article” eligible for copyright protection as artistic works only if those features “can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article.” The Sixth Circuit reversed, concluding that the graphics were “separately identifiable” and “capable of existing independently” of the uniforms.

In affirming, the Supreme Court laid out a two-part test for when a feature incorporated into the design of a useful article is eligible for copyright protection: When the feature (1) can be perceived as a two- or three-dimensional work of art separate from the useful article; and (2) would qualify as a protectable pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work—either on its own or fixed in some other tangible medium of expression—if it were imagined separately from the useful article into which it is incorporated. “To be clear, the only feature of the cheerleading uniform eligible for a copyright in this case is the two-dimensional work of art,” the Court explained. “Respondents have no right to prohibit any person from manufacturing a cheerleading uniform of identical shape, cut, and dimensions to the ones on which the decorations in this case appear.” Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules Cheerleading Uniform Designs Are Copyrightable

Home Automation 23Blockchain has been a hot buzzword in tech circles for some time, and, increasingly, we’re seeing companies—even Fortune 500 companies—announce blockchain-related initiatives.

One particular area of interest to corporations is the use of blockchain not for Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, but for the creation and management of corporate records, and for the delivery of notices to investors. However, regulatory uncertainties have dampened the use of blockchain for such purposes.

This may be changing. Following last May’s announcement of the “Delaware Blockchain Initiative” by former Delaware Governor Jack Markell, the Corporate Council of the Corporation Law Section of the Delaware State Bar Association on March 13, 2017, released groundbreaking draft legislation proposing to amend several sections of the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) in an attempt to clarify the application of existing laws to, and facilitate the use of, blockchain technology for various corporate purposes.

Reading a 43-page draft bill may not be an immediate priority for most of us; we wrote this blog post to distill the most significant aspects of the proposed legislation which, if approved, would be introduced to the Delaware General Assembly and enacted by August 2017.

This post covers the proposed legislation as it relates to the use of blockchain technology for (1) the creation and administration of corporate records and (2) the electronic transmission of stockholders’ communications. Continue Reading Delaware Paves the Way for Blockchain Technology

In the most recent edition of his CyberSide Chat series, Socially Aware contributor Andy Serwin discusses emerging cybersecurity issues including:

  • The need to strike a balance between the efficiencies of the Internet of Things and the increased cyberattack vulnerability that usually goes along with using extra devices;
  • The pre- and post-cyber-breach steps a company can take to mitigate the damage that could be caused by a theft of the company’s data or an attempt to shut down its systems;
  • The factors companies should consider when determining how much of their resources to dedicate to preventing a cyberattack.

Check out Andy’s insightful presentation:

Google unveiled a new tool designed to combat toxic speech online by assessing the language commenters use, as opposed to the ideas they express.

Is a state law banning sex offenders from social media unconstitutional? Based on their comments during oral arguments in Packingham v. North Carolina, some U.S. Supreme Court justices may think so.

Facebook is implementing a feature that uses artificial intelligence to identify posts reflecting suicidal inclinations.

Facebook Analytics for Apps reached a significant milestone: It now supports more than 1 million apps.

So did YouTube, which recently surpassed 1 billion hours of video per day.

As many as 15% of regular social media usersthat is, people, not businesses—are buying “likes” on social media?!

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s warning to judges about their use of social media was prompted by this case in which a St. Lawrence County town judge used Facebook to criticize the prosecution of a town council candidate.

More than 40% of Americans incessantly check their gadgets for new messages and social media status updates, and it might be making them a little crazy.

University of Manchester researchers have developed a computer that is faster than any other because its processors are made of DNA, which allows the computer to replicate itself.

Mobile marketers can significantly increase the open rates of their push notifications by doing one simple thing: including emojis.

A woman whose “starter marriage” was covered by the New York Times wedding announcements section in 1989 might have been spared some angst if the United States had a Right to Be Forgotten, as Europe does.

BigBrotherEye-GettyImages-149355675-600pxIf your company collects information regarding consumers though Internet-connected devices, you will want to take note of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) recent privacy-related settlement (brought in conjunction with the New Jersey Attorney General) with smart TV manufacturer Vizio, Inc. The settlement is significant for four reasons:

  • The FTC reinforces the position it has taken in other actions that the collection and use of information in a way that would surprise the consumer requires just-in-time notice and choice in order to avoid a charge of deception and/or unfairness under Section 5 of the FTC Act.
  • The FTC takes the position that television viewing activity constitutes sensitive data. This marks a departure from its approach of limiting sensitive data to information that, for example, can facilitate identity theft, precisely locate an individual, is collected online from young children or relates to matters generally considered delicate (such as health information).
  • The settlement includes a payment of $1.5 million to the FTC (as well as payment of civil penalties to New Jersey), but the legal basis for the FTC payment is not stated. This could suggest that the FTC will more aggressively seek to obtain injunctive monetary relief in Section 5 cases.
  • Acting Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen explicitly noted in a concurring statement her skepticism regarding both the allegation that TV viewing data is “sensitive” and that the FTC’s complaint adequately established that the practices at issue constitute “substantial injury” under the unfairness prong of Section 5.

Leaving aside what the chairwoman’s concurrence may portend for future enforcement efforts, the FTC again seems to be using allegedly bad facts about privacy practices to push the envelope of its authority. Accordingly, with the Internet of Things boom fueling a dramatic increase in the number of Internet-connected devices, companies that either collect information via such devices or make use of such collected information should consider the implications of this enforcement action.

Continue Reading Watch Out: The Federal Trade Commission Continues to Watch the (Alleged) Watchers