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Nikole Snyder is an associate in the Governmental Practice in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. She is a lead associate of the firm’s Government Business Group.

To kick off the New Year, Sheppard Mullin’s Governmental Practice Cybersecurity & Data Protection Team has prepared a cybersecurity-focused 2023 Recap (including links to all of the resources the team has put out over the past year) and 2024 Forecast (that previews what we expect to see in 2024). This Recap & Forecast covers the following five high-interest topic areas related to cybersecurity and data protection:Continue Reading Governmental Practice Cybersecurity and Data Protection, 2023 Recap & 2024 Forecast Alert

On December 12, 2023, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued guidance related to the process by which companies may request the United States Attorney General authorize delays of cyber incident disclosures, pursuant to a new Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) rule. As a reminder, the SEC rule (which went into effect on Dec. 18, 2023) requires companies to disclose material cyber incidents via Form 8-K within four days of making a materiality determination. Our colleagues previously discussed the SEC rule and its new cyber reporting requirements here.Continue Reading For Limited Use Only: Guidance on National Security Delay Determinations under the SEC Cyber Reporting Rule

On November 30, 2023, the Inspector General of the Department of Defense (“DoD IG”) released a Special Report: Common Cybersecurity Weaknesses Related to the Protection of DoD Controlled Unclassified Information on Contractor Networks (the “Report”). Between 2018 and 2023, the DoD IG reports it conducted five audits related to DoD contractors’ protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (“CUI”), in accordance with the cybersecurity requirements in National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) Special Publication (“SP”) 800-171. Additionally, the Report states that since 2022, the DoD IG has provided support/assessments for five investigations under the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative (“CCFI”).[1] Continue Reading DoD IG Report Provides Insight Into Common Missteps When Protecting CUI

Well, the wait is over. Just as 2023 came to a close, on December 26, 2023, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) published the much-anticipated Proposed Rule for the DoD’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”) program (the “Proposed Rule”). It has been just over two years since “CMMC 2.0” was announced in November 2021 (which we previously discussed here). And while there is nothing particularly surprising in the Proposed Rule, there certainly are several notable additions and clarifications. Below we outline the key portions of the Proposed Rule that will be of particular importance to defense contractors.Continue Reading New Year, New Rules: The CMMC Proposed Rule is Here

In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in news of cyber-related False Claims Act (“FCA”) activity. For example, on September 1, 2023, the court unsealed a qui tam lawsuit against Penn State University relating to allegations of non-compliance with Department of Defense (“DoD”) cybersecurity obligations. Separately, on September 5, 2023, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a multi-million dollar FCA settlement with Verizon under its Civil-Cyber Fraud Initiative (which focuses on leveraging the FCA to pursue cybersecurity related fraud by government contractors and grant recipients, as we previously discussed here). These and other cases suggest—as many had been speculating—that the number of enforcement actions and publicity associated with previously-sealed qui tam cases will continue to increase. They also signal that contractors and universities should brace for additional scrutiny and potential whistleblower claims in this area.Continue Reading Recent Cyber-Related False Claims Act Activity Signals Contractors and Universities Should Examine Their Cybersecurity Practices and Brace for an Uptick in Enforcement

On March 8, 2022, just five months after the creation of the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative (previously discussed here), the DOJ announced its first settlement of a cyber-related fraud case. Under the settlement agreement, Comprehensive Health Services LLC (“CHS”) will pay $930,000 to resolve whistleblower allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by (among other things) failing to properly store and handle confidential information. This likely is just the start for increased cyber-related enforcement actions.

Continue Reading Well, That Didn’t Take Long – DOJ Announces its First Settlement of a Civil Cyber-Fraud Case

Just when you didn’t think things could get any weirder, on Friday, January 21, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a ruling clarifying its prior EO 14042 injunction (currently on appeal to the 11th Circuit, and discussed previously here) by refusing to clarify the injunction. Yes, you read that right. Let us explain.
Continue Reading Executive Order 14042 – Update 15.0: U.S. District Court “Clarifies” Its Injunction Applies Only To The Vaccine Mandate

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court reinstated the nationwide injunction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). (Technically, the Court overturned the Sixth Circuit’s decision dissolving the 5th Circuit’s injunction, discussed in the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard Survival Guide.)  This means the OSHA ETS is no longer in force, and businesses, regardless of size, need not comply with the OSHA ETS vaccine/test mandate.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Enjoins OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard; Keeps CMS Rule Alive

Federal contractors and subcontractors across the country were forced to rethink their COVID-safety efforts when, on December 7, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia enjoined enforcement
Continue Reading Executive Order 14042 – Update 12.0: U.S. District Court Issues Nationwide Injunction

In news that will be of interest to every federal contractor, including large and small businesses, universities, banks, and the health care industry, Executive Order 14042 (along with the related
Continue Reading What We Know And Don’t About The Federal Court Order Enjoining EO 14042