by Andrew Cardno
In the age of digital technology, tribal nations and the casinos they operate are presented with significant benefits and challenges, cybersecurity standing out among the latter. Protecting sensitive data is critical, extending beyond mere technical facets to encompass legal and cultural aspects.
Tribal casinos are where cybersecurity assumes a paramount role, safeguarding both the business and customer data. As owners and administrators of gaming enterprises, it’s incumbent on tribes to protect sensitive customer data, including personally identifiable information, as any compromise of this data can lead to severe legal and financial ramifications. While there are necessary cybersecurity measures that tribal casino organizations can take to mitigate data compromises, the tribal nation should take further action to fortify it’s cybersecurity, and by doing so, provide additional legal protection of tribal sovereignty in the case of a compromise or cyberattack.
Roles in cybersecurity and tribal sovereignty are deeply intertwined. As a sovereign entity, tribes hold the authority to regulate activities within their jurisdictions, including the digital operations of casinos. This right is recognized under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which empowers tribes to manage casinos with the aim to foster tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments. In this context, cybersecurity regulations become a logical extension of the tribe’s inherent sovereign powers.
Recommended Actions to Fortify Cybersecurity
Create Tribal Data Protection Regulations – The first critical step is to enact the tribe’s own data protection regulations. With recent high-profile cybersecurity incidents pushing the issue into legislative and regulatory focus, it’s time to assert authority, especially as the gaming industry has become a target for cybercriminals. By crafting these regulations, tribes are not only exercising their inherent rights, but also offering explicit legal procedures to manage potential cyber threats or legal conflicts. An example of this might be drafting specific legislation that mandates robust encryption practices for all sensitive customer data, or outlining legal processes for managing potential data breaches, such as the steps to notify affected customers and the authorities. Having clear regulations in place demonstrates a tribe’s commitment to data protection and boosts customer confidence in casino operations. In the wider regulatory landscape, recent changes like the CIRCIA and the proposed SEC rule underscore the move towards increased transparency and accountability in cybersecurity. Now is the moment to actively navigate these shifts, ensuring sovereignty is upheld and cybersecurity preparedness is robust – and doing so on terms decided by tribal governments.
Engage in Collaborative Efforts with Other Tribes and Organizations – The next step is to join forces with other tribes and organizations to boost data protection capabilities. By sharing best practices and participating in joint cybersecurity initiatives, tribes can enhance their cybersecurity strategies, and even push for more favorable cybersecurity legislation at state and federal levels. For instance, forums on cybersecurity could be established with other tribes to exchange knowledge about emerging threats and discuss effective countermeasures. These forums can also serve as a platform for collectively lobbying for legislation that respects tribal data sovereignty. Tribes might also consider partnering with cybersecurity firms or academic institutions to provide training for staff or to audit their cybersecurity measures.
Develop Comprehensive Data Privacy and Protection Policies – Next, it’s imperative to create comprehensive data privacy and protection policies tailored to the specific tribal community needs. These should cover all aspects of data management, including collection, storage, sharing, and disposal.
Establish Internal Controls and Monitoring Systems – Ensuring adherence to data privacy and protection policies calls for strong internal controls and monitoring systems. Regular audits, stringent access controls, and ongoing employee training can help prevent data breaches and ensure that everyone understands their role in data protection.
Invest in Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Personnel – Finally, as cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving field, keeping up with potential threats calls for continued investment in infrastructure and personnel. Devoting resources to enhance cybersecurity infrastructure and investing in skilled cybersecurity professionals will help maintain a high level of security readiness.
In summary, protecting digital data is not merely a necessity, but an opportunity for tribes to exercise and affirm sovereign powers. By establishing solid data protection policies and regulations, tribal organizations can effectively manage cybersecurity risks, protect patrons, and assert sovereignty in the digital realm. This is not just about warding off potential threats, but also about building a legal and cultural framework that respects and upholds tribal sovereignty amidst the fast-evolving digital landscape.
Andrew Cardno is Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Quick Custom Intelligence (QCI). He can be reached by calling (858) 299-5715 or email [email protected].