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New DFS Cybersecurity Division

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Published On: July 24, 2019

      Perhaps as a signal of its commitment to fight cybercrime and stringently enforce its cybersecurity regulations, New York State recently established a “cybersecurity division”1 within the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS). The creation of the division marks yet another step taken by New York State to guard against the dangers posed by cyberattacks, perhaps motivated by its status as the home of many prominent financial services firms. In addition, the presence of the division strongly suggests that the cybersecurity regulation2 issued by DFS in Spring 2017 [WB1] cannot be taken lightly by the state’s largest and most important financial services firms. Aside from the comprehensive nature of the regulation and the sizable power afforded to the new cybersecurity division, the novelty of New York’s recent innovations in cybersecurity regulation suggests their importance and staying power. In fact, as JDSupra notes, the creation of the new division more or less completed a years long process that has made “New York[…]the only state in the country that has a banking and insurance regulator exclusively designated to protect consumers and companies from the ever-increasing risk of cyber threats.”1

      Some financial services firms, conscious of their vulnerability to cyberattacks, will doubtless welcome these additional steps. As a report from the Identity Theft Resource Center notes, financial services firms “are reportedly hit by security incidents a staggering 300 times more frequently than businesses in other industries.”3 Far from being mere annoyances, these cyberattacks are often extremely costly. In fact, according to a study from IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the cost to a financial services firm per record lost in a cyberattack was more than $100 greater than the cost to the average company.4 Moreover, cyberattacks can also cripple consumer confidence in financial services firms, causing them to lose business and endure even greater costs.5 In general, then, cyberattacks can damage both a financial services firm’s sensitive records and its public image, making them a grave threat to any such company’s bottom line.

      It would be a mistake, however, to think about DFS regulation purely in terms of cost reduction. Regulation also entails costs - not least because compliance with the 2017 regulation can be investigated and punished by DFS’ new cybersecurity division. In fact, these new developments indicate that cybersecurity will not come cheaply, especially because the regulation imposes a bevy of new security requirements on top firms, costing them a not insignificant amount of time and money. From multi-factor authentication to training programs to the appointment of a “Chief Information Security Officer,” the now fully enforceable regulation will force financial services firms to foot the bill for a host of cybersecurity measures.6


  1. https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-york-creates-cybersecurity-division-20881/
  2. https://www.dfs.ny.gov/docs/legal/regulations/adoptions/dfsrf500txt.pdf
  3. https://www.idtheftcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ITRC_Generali_The-Impact-of-Cybersecurity-Incidents-on-Financial-Institutions-2018.pdf, pg. 3
  4. IBM and the Ponemon Institute, The Cost of a Data Breach (2017), summarized in https://www.idtheftcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ITRC_Generali_The-Impact-of-Cybersecurity-Incidents-on-Financial-Institutions-2018.pdf, pg. 6
  5. https://www.idtheftcenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ITRC_Generali_The-Impact-of-Cybersecurity-Incidents-on-Financial-Institutions-2018.pdf, pg. 8
  6. https://www.dfs.ny.gov/docs/legal/regulations/adoptions/dfsrf500txt.pdf, pg. 5