How Does the FTC’s Amended Safeguards Rule Affect Your Business?

FTC's Amended Safeguards

Safeguarding sensitive information is critical for businesses entrusted with handling customer data. In October 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made significant amendments to its Safeguards Rule, introducing mandatory data breach reporting and specific reporting requirements. While the rule primarily affects non-banking financial institutions such as mortgage brokers, motor vehicle dealers, and payday lenders, the FTC’s actions set a precedent which could lead to similar data security regulations in other industries or at the federal level. As a result, all businesses should prioritize protecting customer data, staying informed about regulatory developments, and implementing robust security measures to mitigate risks and maintain customer trust. 

What does the amended Safeguards Rule cover?

The amended Safeguards Rule now requires non-banking financial institutions to report specific data breaches and security incidents to the FTC. The obligation arises when unauthorized access to information affecting 500 or more individuals is discovered. Such incidents must be reported no later than 30 days after discovery. 

What are the implications of the amended Safeguards Rule?

  • For non-banking financial institutions. For targeted institutions, compliance is not only a legal obligation but also essential for maintaining client trust. Failure to adhere to regulations could result in severe penalties and reputational damage.  
  • For businesses outside of the financial industry. Though the rule only applies to non-banking financial institutions, it serves as a reminder to all businesses about the critical importance of data security. Any organization that collects and stores sensitive customer information should take proactive measures to protect that data from unauthorized access or breaches.  

What resulting actions should your business take?

  • Review and update security programs to meet new requirements. Update policies, procedures, and security controls as needed to address new reporting obligations and enhance data protection measures. 
  • Implement a breach response plan with steps for detecting, containing, and mitigating breaches. Include procedures for notifying affected individuals and regulators promptly. 
  • Enhance data security measures using encryption, access controls, multi-factor authentication, regular assessments, and employee training to prevent unauthorized access and reduce breach risk. 
  • Conduct regular risk audits and assessments of sensitive customer data to identify vulnerabilities, and prioritize cybersecurity investments. Conduct audits, including internal and external assessments, to ensure compliance with regulations. 
  • Establish vendor management practices to enforce data security standards and regulatory compliance. Use contracts to define security responsibilities and mandate prompt reporting of security incidents. 
  • Train employees in data security best practices, including threat recognition, handling sensitive information, and internal incident reporting. 
  • Maintain documentation of security policies, procedures, and incident responses to demonstrate regulatory compliance and efforts to protect customer data. 
  • Monitor regulatory updates from the FTC and other regulatory bodies. Monitor data security standard changes and adjust compliance efforts for ongoing adherence. 
  • Seek guidance from professionals familiar with data security regulations for insight into interpretation, implementation, implications, and ongoing compliance. 

At TechMD we understand the ever-changing complexities of data security in the financial sector and beyond. Effective cybersecurity is more than just running tools. It takes a proactive approach with hands-on management. We have the technical expertise and experience to guide your business long-term and continually improve your security posture. Targeted attacks, ransomware and advanced social engineering are raising the bar every day, and having a strong defense-in-depth strategy is the answer.

Contact us today to see how we can help you protect what matters most and ensure regulatory compliance. 

Visit the FTC website to learn more about the FTC Safeguards Rule.


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