Data Breach Notifications: Too Little, Too Late

Equifax, the SEC, Deloitte. They aren’t the first, and they won’t be the last.  As the number of major data breaches continues to grow, so does the debate around whether the federal government needs to step up and regulate data breach notifications.

An article earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal summarizes the arguments for federal action.  There’s a patchwork of data breach notification laws from the states right now, but they clearly don’t get the job done. Equifax sat on the information for months before revealing it to the public.

The title of that article was,”After Equifax, Should the Government Force Companies to Report Hacks?”  The answer is easy.  Of course they should.  And I hope Congress finally drafts legislation that would implement a clear, comprehensive policy for the whole nation.

But while that debate will continue while we wait (and wait, and wait) for Congress to do something, we can’t take our eye off the ball. Data breach notification requirements do not solve the problem. People have a right to know that their data was compromised and they should receive that information in a timely manner.  But adding this law won’t increase cyber security in any way.  All it does is stop the bleeding after the fact. Wouldn’t it be better to not get cut in the first place?

Companies need to practice better cyber security across the board.  We should be focusing on how to prevent data breaches in the first place rather than what to do after they occur.  Some breaches may be inevitable.  But I don’t think we need 2 or 3 major ones being revealed every week.

Lawmakers need to evaluate the tools at their disposal and listen to those who know the field best.  The only way for everyone to benefit is by promoting better cyber hygiene to prevent attacks and breaches.  Letting us know after the fact doesn’t help anyone.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. She is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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