Whack-A-Mole in Ransomware – Suggestions for Fighting the Evolving Problem

Posted in Cybersecurity

As you may have heard, a serious cyber security ransomware attack called WannaCry surfaced on Friday, May 12, and has spread across the globe. It has been described as a cyber pandemic. The initial attacks shut down hospitals in the U.K. and also Asia. Ransomware refers to malware that locks or threatens to lock a user’s computer systems unless a sum of money is paid.  Ransomware, like most forms of cyber attacks, constantly morphs in response to successfully deployed defenses. As defenders succeed in blocking a pathway, the malware pops up in a morphed version, requiring further changes in defensive tactics. Dealing with ransomeware is just like playing Whack-A-Mole, but with serious potential consequences. In today’s world, where attackers are often very well-funded, it is important to work together with others to mount a successful defense.

As the WannaCry ransomware is tackled, new variations are emerging. Even though the initial WannaCry Malware attack was thwarted when the kill switch was discovered, new more sophisticated variants are emerging that are more difficult to address. The WannaCry malware appears to be focusing on human vulnerability, namely the tendency of untrained users to open unexpected documents or click on unknown links, so a first step in addressing the attack starts at the ground level –by educating ourselves and our employees to detect the signs of malware attacks. Getting the word out can help others be prepared. In the event of an attack, it is important to respond quickly as the attacks are serious and ransomware continues to morph and spread.

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The FTC ‘Educates’ Celebrities & Social Media Influencers on its Endorsement Rules

Posted in FTC, GT Alert

As the power of Instagram and other social media platforms as marketing tools rises, so does the dollar figure of contracts between brands and the social media influencers (celebrities, athletes, reality stars, etc.) they use to endorse their products – some contracts are reported to be in the seven-figures. Couple this with the influencers’ ability to reach millions of consumers and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking notice. The FTC continues to keep a close eye on advertising activities by social media influencers as well as the brands themselves but historically, the FTC’s enforcement has been limited only to brands. However, in a much anticipated move, the FTC recently sent 90 letters to various influencers (including 45 celebrities) and brands “educating” them on its advertising disclosure requirements.

The FTC monitors advertising activities pursuant to the Federal Trade Commission Act, which charges the FTC with, among other things, preventing “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” including advertising that is false or misleading in any material way. The FTC published the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (also known as the Endorsement Guides) to provide guidance regarding how the FTC evaluates certain endorsements and testimonials in advertising.

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House of Representatives Passes Overtime Bill to Give Workers Time Off Instead of Time-And-A-Half Pay

Posted in Labor & Employment

On May 2, 2017, the United States House of Representatives (the House) passed the Working Families Flexibility Act (the Act), which would give workers the option of receiving paid time off (PTO) instead of time-and-a-half pay currently mandated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA). The Act passed 227-197, largely along party lines, with no Democrats in favor of it and six Republicans opposed.  The Act will now go to the Senate, where it is expected that the Act will face opposition from Senate Democrats. President Donald Trump has indicated that he would sign the Act into law if presented to him in its current form.

Under the FLSA, covered, non-exempt employees must receive overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek, at a rate not less than time and one-half their regular rate of pay. An employee’s regular rate of pay is determined on a piece-rate, salary, commission, or other basis, but the overtime pay rate must be calculated using the average hourly rate derived from the employee’s earnings. Employers determine the average hourly rate by dividing the total pay received by the employee in any work week by the 40 hours. The employer then pays the employee overtime for each hour over 40 at time-and-a-half of the average rate.

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DOL Announces Reversal of Employee/Independent Contractor Classification & Joint Employer Guidance

Posted in GT Alert, Labor & Employment

On June 7, 2017, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) reversed its previous guidance issued during the administration of President Barack Obama that broadened the circumstances in which employers could be held liable for misclassification of employees as independent contractors, and as a joint employer with a separate business.  New Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta announced that the DOL was withdrawing two letters: (1) a 2015 letter that encouraged scrutiny of employer-independent contractor relationship pursuant to the “economic realities test;” and (2) a separate 2016 letter that interpreted joint employment under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) with a separate entity as occurring, so long as both employers exercised “indirect” control over the worker.   Although the letters were never legally binding, they served as a blueprint for how the DOL enforced federal laws and represented persuasive authority to courts.

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OSHA Rescinds Fairfax Memo – OSHA No Longer Required to Permit Union Reps to Represent Non-Union Employees in Walkaround Inspections

Posted in Labor & Employment

On April 25, 2017, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rescinded a Feb. 21, 2013 letter from former Deputy Assistant Secretary Richard E. Fairfax to Mr. Steve Sallman (Fairfax Memo) that permitted workers at a worksite without a collective bargaining agreement to designate a person affiliated with a union or community organization to act on their behalf as a representative during an OSHA walkaround inspection.

Employers have viewed the Fairfax Memo as a way for unions to get access to employees that they hope to unionize. With the rescission of this memo, employers are no longer required to permit union officials to represent workers at a worksite without a collective bargaining agreement during an OSHA walkaround inspection.

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GT’s Carl Fornaris Moderates Panel at IAGA, Featured in Gambling Compliance

Posted in AML, Gaming

The International Association of Gaming Advisors (IAGA) held its 36th annual International Gaming Summit May 30-June 1, 2017. The IAGA Summit brings leaders from all global gaming sectors together, providing a unique opportunity to discuss recent and significant issues and challenges facing the gaming industry. At the Summit, Greenberg Traurig’s Carl A. Fornaris, co-chair of the Financial Regulatory & Compliance Practice, participated in a panel titled “Don’t Gamble with your anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance Program.” The discussion reviewed recent developments in AML compliance efforts initiatives worldwide, including recent FATF Mutual Evaluation Report of the United States, regulatory examination priorities, and priorities of the new Trump Administration and their impact on the AML regulatory regime.

The panel discussion was featured in Gambling Compliance’s article, “Casino AML Compliance Continues to Evolve.”

To access the full article, please click here.

Greenberg Traurig’s Erica Okerberg Featured in Global Gaming Business Magazine’s “40 Under 40”

Posted in Awards & Recognitions

OKERBERGEErica Okerberg, an associate in the Las Vegas office of international law firm Greenberg Traurig, LLP, is featured in Global Gaming Business (GGB) Magazine as one of its “40 Under 40.”

To access the full article, please click here: “Hitting the Ground Running” (Global Gaming Business Magazine, June 2017)


Nevada Gaming Commission Provides More Flexibility in Considering Gaming Applicants

Posted in Gaming, GT Alert, Nevada, Nevada Gaming Commission

The Nevada Gaming Control Act (Act) requires an applicant for a gaming license or other approval to appear first before the Nevada Gaming Control Board (Board) on the application. The applicant has the burden of proof and must affirmatively seek the Board’s support and its recommendation to the Nevada Gaming Commission (Commission). The Board can recommend (i) approval of the application, (ii) denial of the application, or (iii) a limited approval, which could be limited in duration and/or include conditions.

Prior to Assembly Bill 75 (2017) (AB 75), which was signed by Governor Sandoval on May 23, 2017, if the Board recommended denial of the application, the Commission’s only options would be to (i) deny the application by a majority vote, (ii) remand the matter to the Board for further investigation and reconsideration, or (iii) overturn the Board’s recommendation and approve the application, by unanimous vote of the commissioners present at the meeting.

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Nevada Redefines a Gaming Device Manufacturer

Posted in Gaming, Nevada, Nevada Gaming Commission

Assembly Bill 75 was signed into law on May 23, 2017, by Nevada Governor Sandoval. As previously reported, Assembly Bill 75 would amend what is considered “manufactur[ing]” under the Nevada Gaming Control Act. The proposed amendment would narrow the scope of developers involved in the gaming device manufacturing process that would need to be licensed by the Nevada Gaming Commission as “manufacturers.”

To read more about this bill, please see our prior post, “Proposed Nevada Legislation to Redefine a Gaming Device Manufacturer.”

To receive updates on this bill and other related information, please subscribe to our blog.

Updates on H-1B Program In Light of H-1B Cap Lottery & Recent ‘Buy American, Hire American’ Executive Order

Posted in Government, Immigration

On April 7, 2017, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that it had received enough H-1B petitions to reach the annual statutory cap of 85,000 visas for fiscal year 2018.

The H-1B classification is a non-immigrant visa which permits U.S. employers to sponsor highly-skilled foreign nationals for temporary work authorization in specialty occupations in the United States.  Specialty occupations are ones that require a Bachelor’s degree or the equivalent for entry into the occupation. Companies in the gaming industry rely on H-1B visas to secure talent and fill employment gaps particularly in technology-related roles.

On April 17, 2017, USCIS announced that it received 199,000 H-1B petitions during the filing period. This year’s filing period began on Monday, April 3, and remained open for the first five business days of the month. The number of H-1B petitions received this year was lower than the numbers received in 2016 and 2015, during which USCIS received 236,000 and 233,000 petitions respectively. On April 11, USCIS completed its computer-generated selection process, or lottery, to select enough applications to ensure approval of the annual statutory maximum of 85,000 H-1B visas.

20,000 visas within the annual statutory cap are reserved for beneficiaries who have obtained an advanced degree in the United States, also known as the master’s cap. The remaining 65,000 visas are available to those with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) and those that were not initially selected in the master’s cap lottery.

A few weeks ago, USCIS began issuing receipt notices to petitions selected in the lottery. Petitions not selected in the lottery will be rejected and returned to petitioners with their filing fees over the coming weeks.  Next year’s H-1B cap will open on April 1, 2018, for petitions filed with Oct. 1, 2018, start dates.  Companies will be unable to file new H-1B petitions until next year’s cap opens.  Please note that USCIS will continue to accept and process petitions for H-1B extensions, change of employers, or amendments as they are not counted towards the cap.

In addition to the recent H-1B lottery, on April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order entitled “Buy American, Hire American” in Kenosha, Wisconsin while visiting the headquarters of Snap-On Tools.

The stated focus of the Executive Order is two-fold: (1) to protect the American economy by encouraging the U.S. government and agencies to concentrate on purchasing goods, products, and materials made in America; and (2) to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States by rigorously enforcing and administering laws governing entry into the United States by workers from abroad.

From an immigration perspective, the “Hire American” prong of the Executive Order focuses on reviewing current U.S. immigration laws. Specifically, the Executive Order requires the U.S. Secretary of State, Attorney General, Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Homeland Security to suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the “most-skilled” and “highest-paid” beneficiaries.

The Executive Order reflects the new administration’s desire to move toward reforms of the H-1B program, but there will be no immediate changes to H-1B program. The Executive Order is vague and does not provide specific timelines for action on the “Hire American” prong. Further, any significant changes to the H-1B program would likely require legislative action. Greenberg Traurig will continue to monitor the changes and impacts of this Executive Order.