Morgan Stanley Action Signals SEC’s Continued Enforcement of Safeguards Rule

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney may have escaped charges under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, but it has agreed to pay $1 million to settle charges that it violated the Safeguards Rule. The settlement stems from allegations that employee Galen Marsh transferred data containing the PII of 730,000 customers to his personal server. That data later appeared on multiple internet sites. There was no harm alleged, and this settlement, coupled with the R.T. Jones and Craig Scott Capital actions, may show that the SEC is picking up enforcement of the Safeguards Rule. “Here, the SEC clearly is trying to make a statement to the broker-dealer and investment adviser community about how seriously it takes cyber. This also seems like a message to the FTC that the SEC intends to be the key cop on this part of the cyber beat,” Jeremy Feigelson, a partner at Debevoise, told the Cybersecurity Law Report. We analyze the settlement and its implications. See also “How Financial Service Providers Can Address Common Cybersecurity Threats” (Mar. 16, 2016).

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