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Federal Register :: Self-Regulatory Organizations; National Securities Clearing Corporation; Order Approving a Proposed Rule Change To Require Confirmation of Cybersecurity Program

Cyber insurance BCyber todayFebruary 3, 2020 9

Background
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I. Introduction

On October 15, 2019, National Securities Clearing Corporation (“NSCC”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“Commission”), pursuant to Section 19(b)(1) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Act”) [1]
and Rule 19b-4 thereunder,[2]

proposed rule change SR-NSCC-2019-003. The proposed rule change was published for comment in the Federal Register on October 30, 2019.[3]
The Commission did not receive any comment letters on the proposed rule change. For the reasons discussed below, the Commission is approving the proposed rule change.

II. Description of the Proposed Rule Change

NSCC proposes to modify its Rules and Procedures (“Rules”) [4]

in order to (1) define the term “Cybersecurity Confirmation” as a written representation that addresses a submitting entity’s cybersecurity program (described more fully below); Start Printed Page 68244(2) require NSCC’s members and applicants for membership to submit to NSCC a Cybersecurity Confirmation (both as part of an initial application for membership, and on an ongoing basis for members, at least every two years); and (3) provide that NSCC may require a Cybersecurity Confirmation from organizations that report trade data to NSCC for comparison and trade recording.

A. Background

NSCC plays a prominent role in providing clearance, settlement, risk management, central counterparty services, and a guarantee of completion for virtually all broker-to-broker trades involving equity securities, corporate and municipal debt securities, American depository receipts, exchange traded funds, and unit investment trusts.[5]
In light of NSCC’s critical role in the marketplace, NSCC was designated a Systemically Important Financial Market Utility (“SIFMU”) under Title VIII of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.[6]
Due to NSCC’s unique position in the marketplace, a failure or a disruption to NSCC could, among other things, increase the risk of significant liquidity problems spreading among financial institutions or markets, and thereby threaten the stability of the financial system in the United States.[7]

NSCC’s members and trade data reporting organizations connect to NSCC, either through the Securely Managed and Reliable Technology (“SMART”) network or through other electronic means, such as a third party service provider, service bureau, network, or the internet. The SMART network is a technology managed by NSCC’s parent company, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (“DTCC”), that connects a nationwide complex of networks, processing centers, and control facilities. Currently, NSCC does not require its members, applicants for membership, or trade data reporting organizations to represent that they maintain a cybersecurity program as a condition for connecting to NSCC via the SMART network or other means.

NSCC states that many of its members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations may currently be subject to regulations that are designed, in part, to protect against cyberattacks.[8]
Accordingly, such entities would currently be required to follow standards established by national or international organizations focused on information security management, and they would currently maintain protocols for their senior management to verify the existence of cybersecurity programs sufficient to meet regulatory obligations. NSCC further believes that some of its members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations might also currently follow protocols substantially similar to the regulations referred to earlier in this paragraph in order to meet the evolving cybersecurity expectations of regulators and/or their own institutional customers.[9]

Although NSCC believes that its members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations may currently maintain robust cybersecurity programs, NSCC seeks to better ensure the protection of its network by requiring its members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations to confirm that they are meeting certain cybersecurity standards in order to connect to NSCC via the SMART network or other means. Therefore, NSCC proposes to require all members, applicants for membership, and certain trade data reporting organizations to submit a written Cybersecurity Confirmation that includes specific representations regarding the submitting entity’s cybersecurity program and framework. NSCC states that the information contained in the Cybersecurity Confirmation would help NSCC to better understand the cybersecurity programs and frameworks of entities seeking to connect to NSCC, and thereby identify possible cyber risk exposures.[10]
As a result, NSCC would be better able to establish appropriate controls to mitigate such risks and their possible impacts on NSCC’s operations.

B. Proposed Changes

NSCC proposes to modify its Rules to: (1) Provide a detailed definition of the Cybersecurity Confirmation; (2) require NSCC’s members and applicants for membership to submit to NSCC a Cybersecurity Confirmation (both as part of an initial application for membership, and on an ongoing basis for members, at least every two years); and (3) provide that NSCC may require a Cybersecurity Confirmation from organizations that report trade data to NSCC. Each of these proposed rule changes is described in greater detail below.

1. Cybersecurity Confirmation

NSCC proposes to define the term “Cybersecurity Confirmation” to mean a written form, in a format provided by NSCC and signed by the submitting entity’s designated senior executive with the authority to attest to the cybersecurity matters contained in the form.[11]
The form would contain specific representations regarding the submitting entity’s cybersecurity program and framework. Such representations would cover the two years prior to the date of the most recently provided Cybersecurity Confirmation. The Cybersecurity Confirmation would include the following representations:

NSCC states that it designed the representations in the Cybersecurity Confirmation to provide information on how each submitting entity manages cybersecurity with respect to its connectivity to NSCC.[16]
NSCC believes that by requiring these representations from members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations, the proposed Cybersecurity Confirmation would provide useful information designed to enable NSCC to make informed decisions about risks or threats, perform additional monitoring, target potential vulnerabilities, and otherwise protect the NSCC network.[17]

2. Initial and Ongoing Membership Requirement

NSCC proposes to require new applicants for NSCC membership to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation as part of their application materials. NSCC also proposes to require all NSCC members to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation at least every two years. With respect to the requirement to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation at least every two years, NSCC would provide all members with notice of the date on which the Cybersecurity Confirmation would be due no later than 180 calendar days prior to the due date.

3. Organizations Reporting Trade Data to NSCC

NSCC proposes to modify the Rules to provide that, when determining whether to accept trade data from an organization for comparison and trade recording,[18]

NSCC may require the organization to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation. Since such organizations are not NSCC members, contracts (i.e., separate from the Rules) govern the relationships between NSCC and such organizations. NSCC states that this proposal would provide transparency regarding the steps NSCC may take when determining whether to accept trade data from such organizations.[19]

C. Implementation Timeframe

The proposed rule change would be effective upon Commission approval. New applicants for NSCC membership would be required to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation as part of their application materials. The requirement to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation would also apply to applicants whose applications are pending with NSCC at the time the Commission approves the proposed rule change. For existing NSCC members, NSCC would provide notice of the due date to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation, not later than 180 days prior to the due date. Finally, NSCC would provide such notice to its members at least every two years going forward.

III. Discussion and Commission Findings

Section 19(b)(2)(C) of the Act [20]
directs the Commission to approve a proposed rule change of a self-regulatory organization if it finds that such proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and rules and regulations thereunder applicable to such organization. After carefully considering the proposed rule change, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and the rules and regulations thereunder applicable to NSCC. In particular, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with Section 17A(b)(3)(F) of the Act,[21]
and Rules 17Ad-22(e)(17)(i) and (e)(17)(ii) promulgated under the Act,[22]
for the reasons described below.

A. Consistency With Section 17A(b)(3)(F) of the Act

Section 17A(b)(3)(F) of the Act requires that the rules of a clearing agency be designed to, among other things, promote the prompt and accurate clearance and settlement of securities transactions and assure the safeguarding of securities and funds which are in the custody or control of Start Printed Page 68246the clearing agency or for which it is responsible.[23]

As described above, NSCC proposes to require its members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations seeking to connect to NSCC via the SMART network or other means, to submit a Cybersecurity Confirmation, confirming the existence and nature of their cybersecurity programs. The Cybersecurity Confirmations should provide NSCC with useful information regarding the cybersecurity programs of the submitting entities. By conditioning an entity’s connectivity to NSCC via the SMART network or other means on the submission of a Cybersecurity Confirmation, NSCC should be better enabled to reduce the cyber risks of electronically connecting to entities that have not confirmed the existence and nature of their cybersecurity programs. Accordingly, the proposed Cybersecurity Confirmation requirement should provide NSCC with information to better identify its exposure to cyber risks and to take steps to mitigate those risks.

If not adequately addressed, the risk of cyberattacks and other cyber vulnerabilities could affect NSCC’s network and NSCC’s ability to clear and settle securities transactions, or to safeguard the securities and funds which are in NSCC’s custody or control, or for which it is responsible. The proposed Cybersecurity Confirmation requirement is a tool designed to address those risks as described above. Therefore, the Commission finds the proposed Cybersecurity Confirmation requirement would promote the prompt and accurate clearance and settlement of securities transactions and assure the safeguarding of securities and funds which are in the custody or control of NSCC or for which it is responsible, consistent with the requirements of Section 17A(b)(3)(F) of the Act.[24]

B. Consistency With Rule 17Ad-22(e)(17)(i) Under the Act

Rule 17Ad-22(e)(17)(i) under the Act requires that each covered clearing agency establish, implement, maintain and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to manage the covered clearing agency’s operational risks by identifying the plausible sources of operational risk, both internal and external, and mitigating their impact through the use of appropriate systems, policies, procedures, and controls.[25]
NSCC’s operational risks include protecting its electronic systems from cyber risks.

As described above, entities connect electronically to NSCC via the SMART network or other means. The proposed Cybersecurity Confirmation requirement should reduce cyber risks to NSCC by requiring members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations to confirm that they have defined and maintain cybersecurity programs and frameworks that meet standard industry best practices and guidelines. The representations in each submitting entity’s Cybersecurity Confirmation would provide information that should help NSCC to mitigate its exposure to cyber risks, and thereby decrease the operational risks presented to NSCC by its connections to such entities. Thus, the proposed Cybersecurity Confirmations should enable NSCC to better identify potential sources of external operational risks and mitigate the possible impacts of those risks. Because the proposed changes would help NSCC identify and mitigate plausible sources of external operational risk, the Commission finds the proposed changes are consistent with the requirements of Rule 17Ad-22(e)(17)(i) under the Act.[26]

C. Consistency With Rule 17Ad-22(e)(17)(ii) Under the Act

Rule 17Ad-22(e)(17)(ii) under the Act requires that each covered clearing agency establish, implement, maintain and enforce written policies and procedures reasonably designed to manage the covered clearing agency’s operational risks by ensuring, in part, that systems have a high degree of security, resiliency, and operational reliability.[27]
As noted above, NSCC’s operational risks include protecting its electronic systems from cyber risks.

Although NSCC believes that its members, applicants for membership, and trade data reporting organizations may currently maintain robust cybersecurity programs, NSCC currently does not require those entities to represent that they maintain a cybersecurity program as a condition for connecting to NSCC via the SMART network or other means. NSCC designed the proposed Cybersecurity Confirmation requirement to reduce cyber risks by requiring its members, applicants, and trade data reporting organizations to confirm that they have defined and maintain cybersecurity programs and frameworks that meet standard industry best practices and guidelines. The representations in each submitting entity’s Cybersecurity Confirmation would provide more security for NSCC’s SMART network and other systems by providing NSCC with information designed to help manage its cyber-related operational risks, which in turn, would enable NSCC to take steps necessary to strengthen the security of its network to mitigate those risks. Since the proposal would enhance NSCC’s ability to ensure that its systems have a high degree of security, resiliency, and operational reliability, the Commission finds the proposed changes are consistent with the requirements of Rule 17Ad-22(e)(17)(ii) under the Act.[28]

IV. Conclusion

On the basis of the foregoing, the Commission finds that the proposed rule change is consistent with the requirements of the Act and, in particular, with the requirements of Section 17A of the Act [29]
and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.

It is therefore ordered, pursuant to Section 19(b)(2) of the Act [30]

that proposed rule change SR-NSCC-2019-003, be, and hereby is, approved.[31]

For the Commission, by the Division of Trading and Markets, pursuant to delegated authority.[32]

Jill M. Peterson,

Assistant Secretary.

3.
 Securities Exchange Act Release No. 87392 (October 24, 2019), 84 FR 58183 (October 30, 2019) (SR-NSCC-2019-003) (“Notice”).

4.
 Capitalized terms not defined herein are defined in the Rules, available at http://www.dtcc.com/​legal/​rules-and-procedures. References to “members” in this Order include both Members and Limited Members, as such terms are defined in the Rules.

5.
See Financial Stability Oversight Counsel 2012 Annual Report, Appendix A (“FSOC 2012 Report”), available at
http://www.treasury.gov/​initiatives/​fsoc/​Documents/​2012%20Annual%20Report.pdf.

6.
 12 U.S.C. 5465(e)(1). See FSOC 2012 Report, supra note 5.

7.
See FSOC 2012 Report, supra note 5.

8.
 For example, depending on the type of entity, NSCC states that its members may be subject to one or more of the following regulations: (1) Regulation S-ID, which requires “financial institutions” or “creditors” under the rule to adopt programs to identify and address the risk of identity theft of individuals (17 CFR 248.201—202); (2) Regulation S-P, which requires broker-dealers, investment companies, and investment advisers to adopt written policies and procedures that address administrative, technical, and physical safeguards for the protection of customer records and information (17 CFR 248.1—30); and (3) Rule 15c3-5 under the Act, known as the “Market Access Rule,” which requires broker-dealers to establish, document, and maintain a system for regularly reviewing the effectiveness of its management controls and supervisory procedures (17 CFR 240.15c3-5). Notice, supra note 3, at 58184.

10.
 Notice, supra note 3, at 58183.

11.
 Notice, supra note 3, at 58183. See also NSCC Cybersecurity Confirmation Form, submitted as Exhibit 3 to SR-FICC-2019-003, available at
https://www.sec.gov/​rules/​sro/​nscc/​2019/​34-87392-ex3.pdf.

12.
 Examples of recognized frameworks, guidelines and standards that NSCC believes are adequate include the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council Cybersecurity Profile, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework (“NIST CSF”), International Organization for Standardization (“ISO”) standard 27001/27002 (“ISO 27001”), Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (“FFIEC”) Cybersecurity Assessment Tool, Critical Security Controls Top 20, and Control Objectives for Information and Related Technologies. NSCC would identify recognized frameworks, guidelines and standards in the form of Cybersecurity Confirmation and in an Important Notice that NSCC would issue from time to time. NSCC would also consider accepting other standards upon request. Notice, supra note 3, at 58184.

13.
 23 N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 23, § 500 et seq. (2017). NSCC states that this regulation requires entities to confirm that they have comprehensive cybersecurity programs as described in the regulation, and NSCC believes this regime is sufficient to meet the objectives of the proposed Cybersecurity Confirmation. Notice, supra note 3, at 58184.

14.
 NSCC states that current industry cybersecurity frameworks and industry standards could include, for example, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency or the FFIEC Cybersecurity Assessment Tool. NSCC would identify acceptable industry cybersecurity frameworks and standards in the Cybersecurity Confirmation form and in an Important Notice that NSCC would issue from time to time. NSCC would also consider accepting other industry cybersecurity frameworks and standards upon request. Notice, supra note 3, at 58185.

15.
 NSCC states that a third party with cybersecurity domain expertise is one that follows and understands applicable industry standards, practices, and regulations, such as ISO 27001 certification or NIST CSF assessment. NSCC would identify acceptable industry standards and practices in the Cybersecurity Confirmation form and in an Important Notice that NSCC would issue from time to time. NSCC would also consider accepting other industry standards and practices upon request. Notice, supra note 3, at 58185.

16.
 Notice, supra note 3, at 58185.

18.
See Rule 7 (Comparison and Trade Recording Operation), supra note 4.

19.
 Notice, supra note 3, at 58185.

22.
 17 CFR 240.17Ad-22(e)(17)(i) and (e)(17)(ii).

31.
 In approving the proposed rule change, the Commission considered the proposals’ impact on efficiency, competition, and capital formation. 15 U.S.C. 78c(f).

32.
 17 CFR 200.30-3(a)(12).

[FR Doc. 2019-26843 Filed 12-12-19; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 8011-01-P

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