Cybersecurity breaches in arbitration proceedings have prompted international firm Debevoise & Plimpton to set up a charter it hopes will help combat the threat.

The firm’s ‘Protocol To Promote Cybersecurity in International Arbitration’ was launched yesterday to try and keep a lid on attacks that threaten the integrity of arbitration.

The firm said parties are ‘increasingly concerned’ about the potential impact of malicious cyberactors and cyber-attacks. It said threats can create significant operational and legal problems that can compromise the process, including loss of sensitive data and breaches of client confidentiality.

Natalie Reid, partner at the firm, said: ‘There have certainly been instances where serious cybersecurity issues have arisen in arbitrations. This is a live issue, and one that has the potential to grow into something even more significant.’

The protocol identifies specific procedures for establishing secure protocols for transferring sensitive information, limiting disclosure, the use of sensitive information, and developing procedures for disclosing data breaches. For each section the firm has outlined several steps it will take to address the measures.

These include;

  • Ensuring email accounts maintained by third party public servers have additional access protections;
  • Restricting the ability to transfer sensitive information to mobile devices only if they use encryption or other appropriate security protocols;
  • Exploring whether sensitive information may be submitted in a form that is only viewable on screen (i.e, not downloadable or printable);
  • Establishing, at the client’s request, procedures for returning or destroying sensitive information upon the conclusion of the arbitration.

Catherine Amirfar, litigation partner, said: ‘We believe that this approach is strongly in our clients’ interests as safeguards to help prevent a data breach from occurring during arbitration. We hope that, by making this public commitment, the protocol will encourage others to work with us in improving the international arbitration process.’