Chicago Tribune reported, “US says Chinese military behind Equifax breach that stole Americans’ personal data” Data Breach Response Experts Lee Neubecker and Kari Rollins say “Data Breach is inevitable!” They give us advice on how to prepare.
Sedona Conference Incident Response Guide
It is not a question of if you will fall victim to a Data Breach incident, it is when. Organizations large and small need to be ready for when cybercrime strikes. Data Breach Response Experts Lee Neubecker and Kari Rollins know how to prepare for a data breach without breaking the bank. Kari is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group for Sheppard Mullin in New York, and also a member of the Sedona Conference, Working 11 group. Kari describes the Sedona Working 11 as a group of Cyber Breach Experts who design tools and how-to resources that are available to the general public through the Sedona Conference website. The Sedona Conference is a nonprofit research and educational institute that brings together jurists, lawyers, experts, and academics. Kari and Lee share their combined knowledge and talk about the options available to small to midsize companies that may not have the resources in-house necessary to respond to a data breach incident.
Watch Part 1 of our 3 Part Series on Data Breach Readiness follow:
The Video Transcript of Data Breach Response Experts Kari Rollins and Lee Neubecker Follows
Lee Neubecker (LN): Hi, I’m here today with Kari Rollins. She’s the co-managing partner of the New York office of Sheppard Mullins. Thanks for being on the show.
Kari Rollins (KR): Thank you for having me.
LN: And I had Kari, she’s a specialist in the whole area of privacy related litigation involving data breaches and personal information and what not. She’s also a member of the Sedona Conference. Could you tell everyone a little bit about what the Sedona Conference does?
KR: Sure, so the Working Group 11 is the Working Group that is dedicated to helping companies and other practitioners understand some of the hot topics and legal issues in data privacy and cybersecurity today that are rapidly evolving as the laws in that area change. And the Sedona Conference itself is dedicated to pulling together practitioners from private sector, public sector, judges, regulatory authorities who all come to talk about their experiences in these different specialized areas so that it you know, you have a knowledge base with a wide variety of perspectives.
LN: Great and so I asked you to come on to talk a little bit about the data breach incident response guide that the conference came up with. Can you tell us what this is about?
KR: Sure, so as a member of the Working Group 11, several of us at the request of Sedona Conference came together to put together what our views were on how to handle a data breach, or an incident response from the very beginning of the breach life cycle, i.e. planning for and anticipating a breach, through the breach investigation itself and even thinking about issues that may be implicated in a post-breach regulatory inquiry and how companies can best defend themselves and prepare for what is now today, the inevitable, a data incident.
LN: So this is a free resource available to anyone?
KR: It is a resource available to anyone. It’s really a practitioner’s guide. We think this is probably best used by small to midsize companies who may not have the resources or staff in-house, legal staff in-house dedicated to responding to incidents. And it’s, though it can be used by any practitioner, any counsel, any type of company, we do expect that this is probably something that would be useful to small to midsize companies as really a guideline and material to help them issue spot and understand what are the issues in incident response? What should I be concerned about? What are the pitfalls? What am I going to need to be on the lookout for?
LN: Great, and if people want more information about this or want to download the guide, where can they obtain it from?
LN: Great, so in our next segment, we’re going to be talking a little bit about what should be done before a data breach happens.
LN: And then in our third segment, we’ll talk a little bit about okay, the data breach happened or an incident happened, what do you need to do to respond? So watch those segments and tune in again. Thanks Kari for being on.
KR: Thank you.
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More Information about Kari Rollins and Sheppard Mullin
Behind lifesaving medical devices are Cyber Experts hard at work to secure and protect Patient Health Information (PHI). Check out this video on securing medical devices.
Cutting edge medical devices save lives! Not only do they save lives but they carry a vector of complicated communications and a unique set of security challenges. Cyber Security Expert Lee Neubecker, sits down with Sterling Medical Device’s top engineer, Keith Handler who develops cyber protection and security for their client’s medical devices.
Sterling Medical Devices helps companies design and develop mechanical & electronic medical devices and follows them through FDA approval. The conversation is educational and important to those interested in knowing how medical devices are cyber protected and secured. In this video, they outline the concerns that relate to the control, security, and confidentiality of the patient’s health information (PHI) when using these medical devices.
The transcript of Part 1 of our Series in Medical Device Security
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Kieth Handler here on my show from Sterling Medical Devices. Keith is a top engineer here that helps ensure cybersecurity and resilience and protection of medical devices of their clients. They help assist through the FDA certification process. Keith, thank you, thank you for being on my show.
Keith Handler: Thanks for having me, Lee.
LN: So can you tell me a little bit about what your firm does and how it helps clients in cybersphere?
KH: Yeah, sure. Sterling Medical Devices is a 13485 certified product development firm. We help various companies design and develop electro-mechanical medical devices. Pretty much from, anything from concept all the way to submission to the FDA.
LN: So, can you tell everyone what, ISO…?
LN: 13485 Certification means?
KH: Yes that is, that is the ISO standard that defines the product development and manufacture of medical devices. It defines all the processes that we generally run our business by.
LN: Okay, so what are some of the concerns that you have as it relates to the patient personalized information, sometimes known as PHI? Is that right?
KH: Yeah, patient help information, that’s correct. Well, you know, our first concern, of course, with any medical device is safe. We want to make sure that the devices are treating patients as intended and not presenting any undue harm to the patient or anybody else. The second thing is the Patient Help Information. It’s very important that we maintain confidentiality for all patients, in any of these systems. Diagnostics, their personal information, all need to be protected.
LN: These devices, they have PHI, they also have, they also are involved with the generation of electronic medical records, known as EMR, that feed into the various hospital systems that are used to provide and deliver healthcare to users. As it relates to this, what are some of the top concerns that you try to address as it pertains to safety for your clients?
KH: Well, when it comes to information or command and control that can be done remotely on a device, it’s again important to maintain the integrity of those communications, and to protect everything there. One of the hardest aspects, I would say, is integrating a medical device into a larger hospital system. We may have control over the confidentiality of the information, and of the commands that are sent and received within a device, but as soon as we connect to an external system we lose control of that data. So, it becomes a unique challenge to try and make sure we are protecting, and not only in our system but also in any system ours might integrate with.
LN: Yeah, and there’s such a myriad of ways devices connect, Bluetooth, wifi–
LN: I’m not sure if medical devices use infrared or–
LN: Near band communication, but there are all these vectors of communication that create new threats and potentials for compromise.
KH: And typically medical hardware is pretty cutting edge, you know, some of the things that they’re trying to treat now still can’t. So all of these things that you’re bringing up, all exist in medical, all need to be protected.
LN: Great, so in our next segment we’ll be talking a little bit more about the FDA, the certification process, and some of the standards that devices might undergo to help ensure adoption by the FDA, and to make them commercially viable to be sold in the United States. And then, in our third segment, we’ll talk more about protecting devices against cyber compromise, the firmware and software that gets embedded into these devices, and other things that should be done to help keep medical devices safe and secure. Thanks for being on the show today.
KH: Thanks again for having me, Lee.
Related Materials on Medical Malpractice
See more about Sterling Medical Devices on their website.
Understanding EMR Audit Trails is important to any company dealing with (PHI). They must have all the necessary security measures in place and follow them to ensure HIPAA Compliance.
Understanding EMR Audit Trails is essential to a patient’s medical history In medical malpractice litigation. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) maintain an audit trail including all of the metadata. This EMR audit trail is a piece of highly relevant evidence as to who accessed what in the record, what entries were made and/or changed, by whom and when. Computer Forensic experts are key to effective electronic discovery during medical malpractice litigation.
How do hospitals record, protect, and store data? HIPAA sets the guidelines for the most highly sought after information by the world’s best technology hackers. Medical records are worth 4 times more than credit card information. Managing Personal Healthcare Information (PHI) places Healthcare facilities at risk of cyber attack 24/7, 365 days a year.
Check out this video with Enigma Forensics, President & CEO, Lee Neubecker, and John Blair, a noted Healthcare Industry Cyber Security Expert where they discuss the importance of protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
Understanding EMR Audit Trails video transcript follows:
This is the third of the last video in the three-part series on Health Care Industry Cyber Threats: Watch Part 1,Watch Part 2
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have John Blair, a cyber security expert in the field of healthcare, and John is also involved with understanding patient medical, electronic medical record (EMR) audit trails, so I asked him to come on the show and talk a little bit about that with me. John, thanks for coming back on the show.
John Blair: Thanks, Lee. Glad to be back.
LN: So John, can you tell everyone a little bit about what HIPAA requires of healthcare organizations as it relates to tracking data of caregiving and the patients?
JB: Sure. Most of this is obviously directed at hospitals, but HIPAA also has things called business associates, and any interaction from any entity with, or any user with, PHI is going to be subject to these audit logging. Hospitals use systems called EMRs, so generally those, the audit trails are built into the EMRs by default, but obviously entities can turn those off if they so choose or configure them differently. HIPAA requires that you pretty much log any interaction, whether it’s read-only, view-only, edit, whatever that interaction might be. Identify the user, identify the time, what was done to the record, and that has to be maintained for several years. So it doesn’t matter what a user does with the record. Even if they just view it, that counts as a valid interaction and has to be logged and maintained.
LN: In fact, all of these hospital software systems out there have to be HIPAA compliant, or else the hospitals wouldn’t be able to use the software packages. Isn’t that true?
JB: Right, right. There’s a lot of federal regulations regarding that, that the standards that these systems have to meet in order to get refunds or rebates from the government.
LN: So Medicare funding, reimbursement, obviously is important.
JB: All of that stuff. And audit logs of user activity and interactions, or any interaction with PHI, is a critical component of that.
LN: You know, what I’ve seen is sometimes despite the software packages being EMR, audit trail compliant, that there’s the ability for the software that’s deployed to be altered so that the audit trails aren’t retained as long as required by law.
JB: Yeah, sometimes the storage of the audit logs, it can be overwhelming. So oftentimes they are archived offsite or inappropriate access is given to the audit log itself. And then it possibly can be changed, which ruins the integrity of the log, obviously, and that would be a very bad thing should something come up down the road and you needed that log.
LN: Yeah, and certainly, someone who has the master database administrator password to that back-end system, they could do whatever they wanted.
JB: Yup. But there’s supposed to be logs of that activity, as well, and reviews of those logs, but you’re absolutely right. If you’re an administrator, you can do a lot of damage.
LN: Yeah, I’ve assisted clients before involved in litigation, medical malpractice litigation, with just seeking the truth of what’s there in the records. Most of the time, they think many hospitals are compliant and do have those audit trail records.
LN: But, they don’t necessarily want to make that data readily available.
JB: No, they don’t. And it depends, it’s a case-by-case scenario, under the advice of counsel and things like that, but it’s very, very sensitive information, and obviously, it’s a public relations nightmare to have a breach of patient data, so they take those things very, very seriously.
LN: Absolutely. So can you tell everyone what PHI stands for?
JB: It’s Protected Health Information, as defined by HHS, there are 18 very specific fields that comprise PHI. PHI is a subset of PII, which is Personally Identifiable Information, but with respect to healthcare, it’s primarily PHI that we’re worried about and those 18 identifiable fields.
LN: Why would hackers want to target health care records?
JB: It’s far more valuable now than several years ago, it was credit card information, basically for year after year. Now, the credit card companies and technology with respect to how quickly a card can be replaced and deactivated. And so, just more money in it to steal medical information. And there’s more flexibility, as well. You can go get drugs, you can do a variety of things, whereas, with the credit card, it’s just money.
LN: If people wanted to launch a targeted scam on individuals, certainly having records that would enable them to filter patients that have Alzheimer’s, might give them an unfair advantage at duping people out of their savings.
JB: Absolutely. Because generally if you get someone’s entire record, you’re getting everything about them: their Soc number, their address, phone numbers, relatives, I mean, all this information is now at your disposal. And loans can be taken out in their names, it’s just a disaster waiting to happen.
LN: So Electronic Medical Records, known as EMR, represent an important target that hackers seek, because of the value of that information, and the uniqueness.
JB: Yup. The price of those records, per record, now varies, but I believe it’s in the $150, $200 range per record if it’s a breach now, and laptops can hold hundreds of thousands of records. So it can be very, very expensive.
LN: But it seems that this is a problem, too, that it isn’t just localized to any one area, it’s universal.
JB: Yeah, it’s across the board. Anyone dealing with PHI has this problem.
LN: How does the cost of a patient medical record compare to a credit card record, compare to the black market?
JB: Yeah, for the last several years, medical records have gained in value every year, while financial records, credit card information have devalued. And it’s to the point now where medical information’s worth four times as much as financial information. And that’s only increasing.
LN: So does that mean that people that work in the healthcare sector in IT and security are going to get paid four times as much as the people of the financial sector?
JB: I wish.
LN: Well, thanks again for being on the show, this was a lot of good stuff. I appreciate this.
JB: Thanks, Lee, appreciate it.
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Other resources to learn more about EMR Audit Trails.
Data Diva Debbie Reynolds and Enigma Forensics’ CEO Lee Neubecker discuss what to look for in selecting a computer forensics expert to assist with preservation, litigation and eDiscovery.
The transcript of the video follows
Lee Neubecker: Debbie, thanks for being on the show again today. I’m here with Debbie Reynolds, she is Eimer Stahl’s data protection officer and she also is the director of their eDiscovery subsidiary. Thank you for coming in and being on the show.
Debbie Reynolds: Thank you, it’s always a pleasure, Lee.
Lee Neubecker: So, today we’re going to talk a little bit about the differences between eDiscovery and computer forensics and when it’s necessary to bring in an expert to actually be the testifying expert or to handle more sensitive issues, and what you look for when you’re pulling in a computer forensic expert to assist one of your projects?
Debbie Reynolds: Well, it’s never not a good idea to bring in a forensic person, so I try to get someone who’s a professional in forensics on every case that we have, so, just depends. Some big corporations, they actually have people, ’cause they do so much litigation, they have people who are captive to their organization that do it. More times than not, they either farm out that work, to a company like Lee’s company, or they come to me, they ask me for recommendations. Just depends on where they are, what their ability, who’s available. For me, it’s really important that I work with people that I trust, smart people like Lee, who knows what they’re doing. Me, I tell people, I don’t chase company names, I chase the talent, so, I’ve had situations where I’ve had an investigator or forensic person go from one company to the next, and as a stipulation of us working with them, that case went with them ’cause they had the knowledge, so for me, the thing that I look for is a company, again, people that I know and trust, people that I know are smart that know what they’re doing, people who can really present themselves, ’cause a lot of times you’re going into a situation, you’ve not met these people, you’re going in there, touching their data, people are very sensitive about it, IT people can be very territorial, so having someone who can really put people at ease and be very professional in a situation where it’s semi-hostile, where you know that the IT guy takes pride in what he’s doing, thinks he’s the expert, so you have to kind of disarm that person.
Lee Neubecker: How often are IT people hostile?
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, 1000% of the time. They’re always hostile in some way, some are more passive aggressive than others, but you know, this is their baby, you have to work with them to get access to the data, and a lot of times they feel like, well why can I do this?
Lee Neubecker: And part of the problem, when I’ve worked with the IT people, usually they’re defensive because they’re having extra work to do.
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, absolutely.
Lee Neubecker: And they’re involved in litigation, so what I try to do is I try to sit down with them and say, “hey look, “this is my role, I need to understand enough of your stuff “so that you don’t have to talk to the attorneys, “and then I can buffer you from that so that you can “do your daily work,” and when they hear that, it helps them to understand, okay, you’re here to save me from a deposition.
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, absolutely.
Lee Neubecker: Then they’re more relieved, more willing to work with you.
Debbie Reynolds: Absolutely. I think the challenge is to get, when you start a litigation, companies, in order to try to save money, that’s where they want to save money. They don’t want to spend money on a forensic person, but if I compare cases against one another, two cases are very similar, one they had a forensic person, one who doesn’t, the one that has a forensic person, down the line, their case is more smooth, ’cause we don’t have a lot of questions about who did what, what is where, we don’t have a question about who needs to sign affidavits, who needs to go to court, all that stuff, so all that headache down the line is eliminated when we bring in someone. And I’ve had people on our cases tell me, who’ve decided that they didn’t want to bring in someone, they said no, but bad decision, we should have really brought in someone.
Lee Neubecker: In my opinion, I think it’s important to know who the person to be responsible for that data, if they’d never testified in court before, that’s a potential problem, and a lot of times people don’t ask those questions. Other things like, do they have some type of certification that shows that they mastered the field of computer forensics? And did they have to take a exam that was proctored by some independent party to assess that so that you know that your person truly has the knowledge, they didn’t just attend a class and got a certificate, because that’s a little bit of a difference, and there are many people, though, that I’ve encountered, that haven’t had the formal certifications, and they’re very bright, but when you’re putting the people up, they’ve got to survive a challenge against their admissibilities expert, if they don’t have cases of record, if none of the judges know who the person is, those things are definitely problems.
Oftentimes, I’ve seen new experts get up and make basic beginner mistakes where they let the attorney override what their report is, they let the attorney write the affidavit for them, and then it gets stretched too far, and then there might have been many good things that they had to say, but all of it goes out the window because they didn’t know how to manage the hard, nose-driven litigator that wants that report to be aggressive, so you have to listen and understand those driven litigators, but you also have to protect them from killing the case, and they assume that whatever expert you put there has those skills and a lot of them don’t know when they’re getting into trouble, and they need to be able to stand up for themselves, and do it professionally, and objectively.
Debbie Reynolds: Absolutely, absolutely. A lot of times, they don’t know what they don’t know. We had a person that actually went out and got a cell phone for a case, and we were like, we don’t want anyone to touch it, we want the forensic people to look at it, or whatever, he thought, oh well you know, I’m smart, I know how to do this stuff. Not that he wasn’t smart, but this was not his area of expertise, and he turned this phone on, and basically, the person who had the data on the phone, had sent a command to the phone to be erased, so when they turned it on, it wiped out all the stuff.
Lee Neubecker: So they didn’t put it in a Faraday bag?
Debbie Reynolds: No, they didn’t put it in a Faraday bag, they didn’t put it in airplane mode, they went to Walgreens, got cords, stuck the cord in the thing and turned it on, and that was it.
Lee Neubecker: So then that becomes some spoliation claim against–
Debbie Reynolds: It was spoliation, yeah. Everyone thinks, oh I have a cell phone, so I can do this, and it’s like no. I think people need to understand that what you guys do is very different than what we do in eDiscovery and what a normal person who’s doing IT can do, ’cause you have a different aim in my mind, and you understand spoliation of evidence, and how to get data in the right formats, where another person would not know that ’cause that’s not their background, that’s not their training and that’s not the purpose of what they’re handling data for.
Lee Neubecker: Well I really thank you for being on the show, again, to talk about this, it’s great. I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Cyber Security & Computer Forensics Expert Lee Neubecker and Data Privacy Expert Debbie Reynolds discuss recent efforts to pass legislation in the House and Senate that would hold telecommunication providers responsible for addressing the ever growing tide of robocalls disrupting consumers and businesses. Existing laws such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) have proven effective in blocking off shore robocalls. VOIP technology allows for robocall centers to systematically dial U.S. consumers and businesses from beyond the legal reach of our court system. Popular spoofing techniques such as Neighborhood Calling often impersonate the first 6 digits of the call receiver’s phone number in the hope of enticing that call receiver to answer a call. Neubecker and Reynolds both share their frustrations with the current situation and are hopeful the U.S. Senate and the President will take immediate action to pass updated privacy legislation protecting us all from spam robocalls.
The transcript of the video follows:
Lee Neubecker: I’m here today with Debbie Reynolds. We’re going to be talking a little bit about robocall and some new legislation coming our way. Those annoying phone calls we all get on our cellphones.
Debbie Reynolds: That’s right.
Lee Neubecker: Have you gotten any calls where it’s the first six digits of your phone number?
Debbie Reynolds: Yes!
Lee Neubecker: That’s called “neighborhood calling”. And basically, what the bad guys are doing is that they’re using VOIP technology to spoof, and they’re plugging in any number. So they can actually impersonate people you know. But they do this because they think that it increases the likelihood that you’ll answer the phone. In fact, for me, when I see those first six digits, I’m not even going to answer it.
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s wrong or what now?
Lee Neubecker: One of the big problems we have is no one’s taking accountability for this. I heard AT&T is trying to force some authentication mechanisms, but there needs to be some more teeth on this so that people can’t just impersonate phone numbers, or we’ll never get through this.
Debbie Reynolds: Absolutely, absolutely. Actually, so, thankfully this law passed, right?
Lee Neubecker: Well, it’s going through. It passed under the House, overwhelmingly
Debbie Reynolds: Overwhelming, yeah.
Lee Neubecker: They’re hoping that… It said it could happen by 2020, perhaps?
Debbie Reynolds: Okay, that’d be good.
Lee Neubecker: But it’s got to… I think they have to reconcile the two bills, the House and senate, and then the President has to sign it. But by the show of votes, I think everyone’s in favor of let’s tackle all these annoying robocalls.
Debbie Reynolds: Absolutely. So the FCC, they really made a lot of headway many years ago on the Do Not Call Registry, so this will be sort of another layer to that, that the FCC is sort of looking at. I don’t know about you, but I’m very annoyed when I get robocalls, so I’m not happy about this. Maybe it will happen after the election, because the election, people like to be robocalled.
Lee Neubecker: I get tons of calls from people wanting to lend me money, They will ring my phone once and then it will hit my voicemail. This woman keeps calling, saying, I want to speak to you. It’s like, and it’s not even a real person, It’s all automated. It’s annoying.
Debbie Reynolds: Oh, my goodness. Well, one interesting thing about the law, or the one that they’re anticipating, or trying to pass, that I haven’t seen in other laws like this, they’re trying to force companies to create technology, to be able to tell a robocall.
Lee Neubecker: The carriers need to enforce it. The carriers have to stop allowing unsecured VOIP to impersonate calls.
Debbie Reynolds: Right. The House does not allow it, but they specifically said they have to create, if it does exist, they have to create some technology to make sure they can tell a robocall from a normal call?
Lee Neubecker: It’s basically like, we’re going to block any call that isn’t using a means of identity verification. Right now, it’s about a bust.
Debbie Reynolds: And they can’t charge for it, so it’s not like an extra fee. I’m sure what’ll happen is they’ll do you another fee and then call it something else, but it’ll be probably just robocalls.
Lee Neubecker: The act also increased the penalty. Current legislation, the TCPA, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, dealt with spam faxes, calls, and what-not, but the robocall act is going to produce penalties I think to ten thousand dollars each.
Debbie Reynolds: Per incident.
Lee Neubecker: Per incident.
Debbie Reynolds: So that’s a lot.
Lee Neubecker: So that’s going to drive my TCPA consulting business, because that’s work.
Debbie Reynolds: Yeah, absolutely. Well, if it actually makes it, I’m sure the thing about the $10,000 per incident and also, forcing companies to create technology to be able to tell what’s a robocall, corporations or the carriers are probably going to fight that. So, we’ll see.
Lee Neubecker: Yeah. So Debbie, what are the likely impacts on the litigation environment, as you see it? If this legislation goes through?
Debbie Reynolds: Well, first of all, there will be companies that will, uh, I’m sure there will be consumer groups that want to bundle together consumer complaints and probably go after these carriers to try to get these big fines or whatever. So, this could be tying up the legislation for a while. Once the lawyers get their fees, You’ll probably want to get the $10,000 per incident.
Lee Neubecker: It’s going to make it a lot more, in my opinion, they will make it much easier to actually identify who’s behind it, because right now people are using proxy phone numbers to call and many of them are just total scams run out of the country. You can’t– A Nigerian spam call center, we can’t really go after, but if our carriers say they’re going to block these rogue, foreign VOIP connections, then it will make it more secure. Ultimately, you’ll probably have people who opt in to the insecure network, and people who want a secure-only platform where it’s no use calling them.
Debbie Reynolds: I agree.
Lee Neubecker: Thank you for being on the show today. It was great to have you on again. I love your scarf.
Debbie Reynolds: Thank you.
Lee Neubecker: You always have interesting scarves.
Cyber Security Forensics Expert, Lee Neubecker and Draw Bridge Lending CEO Jason Urban describe crypto currency and the security issues as it relates to Bitcoin and
The transcript of the interview follows:
Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Jason Urban on the show today. He’s the President and CEO of DrawBridge Lending. Thanks for being on the show Jason.
Jason Urban: Thanks for having me, Lee. This is great, glad to be here today.
Lee Neubecker: Jason, I’ve known you for awhile. You’ve been doing some innovative things in the lending industry as it relates to bitcoin and block chain. Tell us a little bit about that. Jason Urban : Sure, so what we do is we’re a lender against secured digital asset holdings and what we are providing is the draw bridge, or the bridge, from these traditional lending sources, or pools of liquidity, into this new ecosystem where everybody is trying to figure out how that landscape works.
Lee Neubecker: What type of people would have a need for your service? Jason Urban: I think they’re are a wide variety of people. People who have these digital assets and because of the way they’re categorized here in the States from the IRS perspective, when you spend them, when you use them, you encounter a taxable situation, but to the extent that you might need to pay your power bill or to go on a vacation or buy that boat you always wanted, you need fiat, you need US dollars, and what we provide is a mechanism or platform for people to borrow against the digital asset holders.
Lee Neubecker: So, if someone’s sitting on say 100 bitcoin, which is quite a bit of money, you’d allow them to take out a loan against that bit coin and use that for short term cash expense or whatever?
Jason Urban: Yes
Lee Neubecker: What is the duration of your loans typically?
Jason Urban: We typically focus one to six months. It’s a very volatile asset, and our backgrounds are managing that volatility, but there’s only so much you can do when something moves as rapidly as that does, which is an advantage to the asset, but it’s also difficult from a lending capacity. So our loans are one to six months in duration, and we offer renewal options, so you can re-up and renew. Just the strike price of that loan to value, think about your home moving 50% in a six month period, you might want to refi or you might need to put more money up. We try to mitigate a lot of those risks by offering the durations we do.
Lee Neubecker: So, your clients actually give you their cryptocurrency and you escrow it for them?
Jason Urban: Yes, so what we do is we don’t like to take possession of their currency. What we like to do is use a qualified third party custodian so that their digital assets are resting there, so they know they’re there, and I can’t take them unless they default on a loan or something unfortunate happens. All we want to do is provide a mechanism or a platform for someone to monetize their holdings. We don’t want to take possession of them. We don’t want their private keys. We’ll only take those in the event that they default or want us to satisfy their loan.
Lee Neubecker: So in this business, what measures do you take to help ensure that these digital assets are safe from a cyber attack perspective?
Jason Urban: Well, part of it, the key for us, is cold storage. And cold storage is basically storing these things on a server or computer where it’s not connected to the internet. It can’t be taken, so we require that all our custodians deploy a cold storage method as opposed to a warm storage or a hot storage. That way we know that the gold is in the vault so to speak but that it’s not going to be readily accessible to anybody out there.
Lee Neubecker: Have you had a situation where a customer gets angry because a price fluctuates and they feel that they were cheated out of there value?
Jason Urban: Interestingly we don’t have that problem because of the mechanisms that we deploy on the back end. So all our loans are no margin call and non-recourse unlike a lot of people in the business that will have you retop. Think about it this way, if I issue you a loan on an asset that’s worth $10,000, and I give you 50% of that asset in cash, if the value of that asset goes from 10,000 to 5,000, I now need to create that cushion again, so you need to pay me more money or reup or figure out. What we’ve developed, and our methodology, is a way to never have to worry about that, and we use the financial markets. We’re markets experts, and we’re risk managers, so we have mechanisms by which we can ensure that you don’t have to worry about topping off your loan.
Lee Neubecker: Are there any restrictions on the type of customers you can have based on what the SEC imposes on you?
Jason Urban: We are very compliant, so we are registered by the CFDC, and we follow all the rules and regs imposed on us by them. We have to do AMLKYC, anti-money laundering know your customer. We’re registered as a non-bank lender in all 50, or in 31 states. We operate in all 50 states so that we’re following not only consumer lending laws but also securities laws and commodities laws.
Lee Neubecker: Are there any requirements you have on customers before you can take them as a client? Well one, we have to do the AMLKYC on them. Right now, our products are geared towards accredited investors. Because of the way we do the hedging on the back end we need to make sure that those customers are sophisticated enough to understand what we’re doing. And so in order to do that, we need to put that accredited investor cap on things. It’s a little different under the CFDC umbrella. They call them qualified exchange participants, or ECPs, so there’s a couple of different buckets you wear, but it’s a little different than the SEC’s accredited investor, but effectively it’s the same thing.
Lee Neubecker: Is there a minimum net worth that your customer’s have to have?
Jason Urban: And that’s part of it, a minimum net worth of a million dollars, or an entity that’s a million dollars that’s what we require.
Lee Neubecker: What sectors do you see that this type of lending is getting the most interest in terms of where your clients are coming from?
Jason Urban: A wide variety, if you really think about it, bitcoin, or digital assets as a whole, can be held by anyone. It isn’t a single group that says, “Hey, I’m really into this.” So we see funds, minors, people who were early adopters of the technology, they’ve all kind of stepped forward. Additionally, we’ve got a product that’s geared towards people who would like to buy bitcoin and want to employ some of the same methodologies that we’re employing right now.
Lee Neubecker: Do you have any closing thoughts you’d like to share?
Jason Urban: I think that people often confuse block chain and decentralized ledgers with bit coin. I think the block chain technology is interesting on so many levels. I think that as the world becomes more tokenized, and I think you’re going to see more and more of that, everything from the artwork that you see on the walls to buildings to physical assets like gold, silver, oil. The world is moving towards that technology and that methodology, and I think that being an early adopter and understanding it is so important. If you want to make the same parallels, this is the internet in 1990 or 1995. The difference is the world moves much faster today than it did back then.
Lee Neubecker: So are you taking investors?
Jason Urban: We’re always willing to have strategic investors come into the space, and we’re not opposed to that. We’re very well capitalized, but we do recognize the value in being partners with people. And part of being partners is financial as well.
Lee Neubecker: Well thanks again for being on the show.
WGN Cyber Security Chicago Conference 2018 Video Interview
WGN News is running a midday news segment promoting the Cyber Security Chicago Conference happening this Wednesday and Thursday (September 26th & 27th, 2018) at the McCormick Convention Center. Neubecker will be sharing a preview of the featured presentation he is giving this Wednesday at the Conference on IoT security.
Tune in tomorrow for the 11AM – 12PM live broadcast.
Read More about Cyber Security Expert Lee Neubecker
Neubecker also is the founder of IT Security Blog leeneubecker.com. Before starting Great Lakes Forensics, Neubecker had served as CISO for HaystackID and following the acquisition of Envision Discovery and Inspired Review by HaystackID, Neubecker was promoted to serve as CIO over the combined entities. Neubecker was named one of the top Global Computer Forensics and Cyber security experts by Who’s who Legal in 2019 and many years prior to that.