This week, U.S. security officials released information on their efforts to secure the nation’s election infrastructure and protect American voters from intimidation, discrimination or threats of violence related to the Nov. 8 midterm elections. The potential for political violence, cyberattacks and mitigation strategies were also among the topics of discussion during yesterday’s Real Estate Roundtable Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF) virtual meeting. (Presentation to HSTF | Justice Department bulletin and Politico, Oct. 24)
- As election sites and offices are hardening formerly soft targets, hiring security guards, and installing bulletproof and bomb-resistant glass, the HSTF meeting featured a discussion with Mohamed Telab—Deputy Regional Director (DRD) for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency’s (CISA) Region II—on federal resources available for securing elections. (Axios, Oct. 9 and CISA website)
- Earlier this month, CISA Director Jen Easterly said, “At this time, we are not aware of any specific or credible threats to compromise or disrupt election infrastructure” although the current threat environment is “more complex than it has ever been.” (Politico, Oct. 24 and Reuters, Oct. 17)
- The FBI previously issued a public service announcement on Oct. 12 warning about election crimes and the Department of Homeland Security announced in June that “calls for violence by domestic violent extremists” against election workers, candidates and democratic institutions will likely rise closer to the midterms. (CNBC, Oct. 27)
- Domestic disinformation campaigns and homegrown threats to poll workers are emerging as the more significant concerns ahead of midterm elections than foreign interference. Extremists are reportedly focusing their efforts locally, monitoring neighborhood ballot boxes and signing up as poll workers. (Axios, Oct. 26)
The Roundtable’s HSTF and the Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RE-ISAC) work closely with federal officials on potential cyber and physical threats to CRE. Roundtable members interested in participating in the HSTF or RE-ISAC can contact Roundtable Senior Vice President Chip Rodgers or call 202-639-8400.
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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on March 9 issued a proposed rule that would require publicly traded companies to disclose a cybersecurity incident within four days of determining a breach is “material,” or important to the average investor. (BGov, March 11 and SEC News Release | Proposed Rule | Fact Sheet)
Proposed SEC Requirements
- SEC Chair Gary Gensler, above, said, “Today, cybersecurity is an emerging risk with which public issuers increasingly must contend. I am pleased to support this proposal because, if adopted, it would strengthen investors’ ability to evaluate public companies’ cybersecurity practices and incident reporting.” (Bloomberg, March 9)
- An SEC spokesperson noted that the crisis in Ukraine gave these proposals “special relevance.” (CNBC, March 9 and see story below on The Roundtable’s upcoming March 25 discussion on the Ukraine conflict)
- The proposed SEC amendments would include requirements around reporting material cybersecurity incidents – and providing periodic updates for previously reported cybersecurity incidents. (Wall Street Journal, March 9)
- The proposal also would require periodic reporting related to:
- a registrant’s policies and procedures to identify and manage cybersecurity risks;
- the registrant’s board of directors’ oversight of cybersecurity risk; and
- management’s role and expertise in assessing and managing cybersecurity risk and implementing cybersecurity policies and procedures.
- The Real Estate Roundtable is planning to provide comments on the SEC proposal in advance of the May 9, 2022 submission deadline and looks forward to Roundtable members’ input. The proposed four-day reporting timeframe for companies to provide cyber disclosures may not provide enough time for companies to discover the full extent of an incident. (BGov, March 11)
- An Audit Analytics report released last year showed the number of cybersecurity intrusions reported by public companies increased from 28 breaches in 2011 to 117 in 2020.
- The average cost of a corporate data breach was $4.24 million in 2021, according to an annual IBM Security report.
- Separately, the $1.5 trillion omnibus bill spending bill enacted on March 11 included the Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act. The legislation establishes a narrower 72-hour window for critical infrastructure owners and operators to disclose a cyberattack to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Certain businesses are also required to report any ransom payments to the federal government within 24 hours, among other changes. (Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, March 14)
- The Real Estate Roundtable’s Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF) is coordinating briefings on the following security threats through the Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RE-ISAC):
- April: DHS Sector Outreach and Programs (Active Shooter, and other soft target resources for the Commercial Facilities Sector)
- May: DHS Fusion Center overview
- June: US Secret Service cybercrime
- August: The Protective Security Advisor Program
- September: FBI cybersecurity/cybercrimeNovember: The InfraGard program
Roundtable members interested in participating can contact Andy Jabbour of the RE-ISAC.
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The Real Estate Roundtable’s Homeland Security Task Force and the Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RE-ISAC) invite member organizations to participate in a Virtual Preparedness Exercise on Jan. 20, 2022.
- One exercise will address winter weather preparedness to examine critical dependencies related to water, power and communications/IT. Another exercise will focus on hostile events in local areas that do not directly target a member’s facility. One recent example of such an event involved an armed suspect incident in Boston that shut down activity in a four-block radius during a seven-hour standoff.
- Government officials and other industry ISACs will also participate in the Jan. 20 event, scheduled for 2:00-3:30 pm ET. Please RSVP no later than January 14 to Liz Hoopes and indicate if you prefer to participate in a weather preparedness or hostile events group.
- Additionally, HSTF has recently worked with government officials to produce a one-page reference on “flash mob” retail theft to assist businesses in recognizing potential preparatory actions for future criminal activity.
For more information, please contact Roundtable Senior Vice President Chip Rodgers.
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During recent military actions between the United States and Iran, the real estate industry engaged in intensive information-sharing efforts with government agencies on a variety of homeland security concerns.
- As international tensions increased, informational bulletins on the potential for homeland security threats were shared by federal homeland security officials through the Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (RE-ISAC) – a public-private information sharing partnership organized and managed by The Real Estate Roundtable.
- The Roundtable’s Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF) – co-chaired by Roundtable members Dan Kennedy (URW) and Charlie McGonigal (Brookfield) – works closely with the REISAC and federal agency partners on protective measures that CRE businesses may consider as they implement infrastructure resistant to physical damage and cyber breaches. HSTF also addresses a variety of CRE homeland security issues, including the recently reauthorized Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA).
- The REISAC sends a Daily Report to members to raise awareness on domestic concerns and cyber threats affecting the U.S. commercial facilities sector, while sharing guidance from the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
- On Jan. 3, CISA conducted a situational update on Iranian-U.S. tensions with industry contacts. The conference call also addressed planning and preparedness efforts related to cyber, physical, and communications readiness – and coordinating information for reporting suspicious activity and/or events related to the events.
- On Jan. 6, CISA released an alert on “Potential for Iranian Cyber Response to U.S. Military Strike in Baghdad.” The same day, The New York Post reported that a senior adviser to Iran’s president posted a tweet on Sunday with a link to a Forbes article listing all of The Trump Organization’s significant properties, along with a quote from the late Ayatollah Khomeini threatening revenge against any enemies of Islam.
- The Daily Beast reported on Jan. 7 that an anonymous senior member of the U.S. intelligence community said Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan could be more effective a target than even the White House.
- The RE-ISAC on Jan. 8 shared the retail-focused BMAP Special Advisory Bulletin which warned that, “individuals inspired to commit acts of terrorism may try to acquire or legally purchase common household items such as explosive precursor chemicals (EPCs), explosive powders, and IED components at retailers in your community to construct IEDs for use against infrastructure targets.” The bulletin also provided a list of “Suspicious Activity and Purchasing Behavior: Recognize and Report.”
- The RE-ISAC also recently distributed an announcement regarding a collaboration with the FBI and InfraGard National Capital Region to launch the Commercial Facilities Cyber Working Group (CCWG). Those who work at the intersection of commercial facilities and information security are invited to join the new Working Group by registering at https://cf.epicplatform.com. Additional ontact information for the REISAC is available here.
The next Homeland Security Task Force (HSTF) meeting is scheduled for Jan. 29, in conjunction with The Roundtable’s State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 28 in Washington, DC.
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