© 2016 The Texas Lawbook.
By Brooks Igo
(Dec. 21) – Gardere Wynne Sewell recently announced that Edward Block, the former chief information security officer and cybersecurity coordinator for the State of Texas, has joined the firm’s Austin office as a senior attorney.
Block will work closely with Gardere partner Peter Vogel and the firm’s Internet, eCommerce and Technology and Cybersecurity and Privacy Legal Services practice groups.
“When I was looking to return to the private sector, Peter was one of the first people I called. I think we share a vision for the type of cybersecurity legal services our clients will continue to need,” he said.
In his nearly four years with the Texas Department of Information Resources, Block developed statewide plans, standards and guidelines to address new security technology issues, threats and trends and worked to strengthen the information security culture within the state.
The St. Mary’s University School of Law alumnus says his experience as the CISO for the State of Texas put him in the “hot seat” and provided him insight into the risks and challenges keeping the firm’s clients up at night.
“The security paradigm for a Fortune 50 company is very different than a mom and pop” he said. “An attorney practicing in this area needs the ability to craft legal protections to the client’s need, risk posture and legal requirements.
“Security can be complex, but it shouldn’t be hard.”
Block believes the two most important actions Texas businesses can take to bolster its cybersecurity profile is to educate staff about potential attacks, such as phishing and ransomware, and develop an incident response plan.
“Any organization can and likely will be the victim of a cyber intrusion,” he said. “Customers and clients are much more likely to return after a breach if the organization acts in a level-headed, professional and diligent manner.”
The hot topics in cybersecurity for 2017, Block says, are the Internet of Things (IoT), increased regulation and more ransomware.
He advises companies that use IoT devices to be proactive in securing, patching and updating these devices. Ransomware, which is a form of malicious code that encrypts a user or organization’s data and demands payment to decrypt the data, is getting more complex and evasive, he says.
During the interim before Texas’ 85th Legislative Session starting next month, Block says there were more charges than any previous interim investigating whether industries and governments in Texas were using best practices for cybersecurity. He predicts the full legislature will take action in this area during the upcoming session.
At the federal level, Block says the government may look to a federal breach notification law, which would help streamline the notification process for companies operating in multiple states. Currently, 47 of 50 states have unique breach notification laws.
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