University of Richmond Law Review
In order to explore the threats posed by cybersecurity breaches, first outline the steps taken by the government to address those threats in private sector economy, and then call attention to the ultimate solution, which will most certainly spur private businesses to create a more secure cyber environment for the American people - a Connie Francis-styled cyber civil action lawsuit. Technological advances opened up the unfathomable marvels of cyberspace and, by so doing, spawned a modern world that is now completely dependent on cyber, particularly in the context of sustaining and operating our critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, if supervisory control and data acquisition ("SCADA") succumbs to a cyber attack, it could cripple critical infrastructure and cause tremendous harm, including mass human casualties. The cyber attack might devastate electric utilities; chemical, gas, and oil refineries; public transportation; or hospital services. And there is currently no Plan B.
Since SCADA systems are designed for efficiency, not security, making them safe and secure is further frustrated by the absence of a strong federal strategy that mandates information sharing and effective cybersecurity standards. In addition, the widespread technical ignorance of security managers and the false sense of security due to the absence of a major cyber attack on America's infrastructure contribute to the vulnerability equation. At the end of the day, neither private industry nor the government can defend the SCADA systems of the nation's critical infrastructure alone. Still, the larger burden will always fall upon the shoulders of private industry. Until the Connie Francis-styled cyber case occurs, the issue of tort liability and improved cybersecurity requirements will continue to bubble below the surface. But like a volcano, it will one day erupt. The hope is that the impetus that propels the lawsuit, which will ignite the movement toward greater levels of cybersecurity, will be smaller in terms of sustained damage.
Jeffrey F. Addicott, Impact of Data on Litigation: Enhancing Cybersecurity in the Private Sector by Means of Civil Liability Lawsuits - The Connie Francis Effect, 51 U. Rich. L. Rev. 857 (2017).