November 23, 2023
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Cybersecurity scares spawn legislation, new businesses


Alex Kacik

Alex Kacik

Businesses, government entities and consumers are increasingly aware of the threat of cyberattacks.

High-profile security breaches like the ones experienced by health insurer Anthem Blue Cross, JPMorgan Chase and social network LinkedIn have thrust cybersecurity into the national spotlight.

As statewide and federal laws come into play, protecting online networks has become one of the highest priorities for many institutions and government agencies. Cybersecurity scares have also spawned new businesses.

Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, authored AB 670 that requires independent annual cybersecurity assessments of 35 government entities per year, prioritized by the amount of sensitive information they manage. The law was implemented on Jan. 1.

Corporations and government agencies are increasingly required to report cybersecurity compliance to statewide and federal regulators. Also, boards of directors at large publicly held companies could be held responsible for cyberattacks.

“The legislation has helped bring visibility to the executive level of business,” said Mike Pettit, chief information officer for the Ventura County. “It’s no longer just an IT responsibility, everyone in the enterprise is responsible.”

Ventura County has incorporated cybersecurity awareness into its employee training and actively phishes its employees to find data vulnerabilities, he said. Public and private agencies alike are looking to scale up their insurance plans to protect against cyberattacks, Pettit said.

Tony Perez founded Santa Barbara-based NetLok, which replaces passwords with encrypted pictures.

Two years ago, Perez created the company that aims to substantially minimize data theft for individuals and businesses. It is currently in the soft-launch stage and Perez looks to get its app approved by Apple, he said.

“I discovered that almost 90 percent of hacks are done through password systems,” Perez said. “No one can remember passwords but people can remember a photo.”

Netlok adds two random strings of characters to encrypted pictures that would require much more time, effort and technology to hack, Perez said.

“The market timing of what we’re doing could not be better,” he said.

Sports scheme spoiled

A Ventura County man who pled guilty to orchestrating a sports products investment scheme was ordered to pay more than $1 million to 111 victims.

Gilbert Infante admitted to 13 felony counts of securities fraud and identity theft and was sentenced to eight years in prison, the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office announced on July 14.

From 2006 to 2016, he persuaded dozens of people — most of whom were Ventura County residents — to invest in the development and marketing of products that he falsely claimed were licensed with major professional sports organizations, according to investigators. Infante forged business agreements to support his scheme.

Sansum settlement

Santa Barbara County outpatient health care provider Sansum Clinic could pay about $2 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that Sansum didn’t adequately pay its hourly employees, according to a proposed settlement.

Plaintiffs allege that between Nov. 25, 2011 and May 13, 2016, Sansum didn’t pay overtime, allow and pay for rest and meal periods, pay all regular wages, minimum wages, wages at time of termination, provide proper wage statements and keep satisfactory payroll records. The second amended complaint also asserts claims for conversion and unfair business practices.

“We think it is a fair settlement and hope that our employees will participate so that they can achieve some benefit from this,” a Sansum spokeswoman said.

Diane Pizzi filed a class-action complaint against Sansum on Nov. 25 in Santa Barbara Superior Court. Pizzi has since added three other plaintiffs as class representatives. Bruce Anticouni and Nicole Ricotta of Anticouni & Associates are representing the employees while Jeffrey Dinkin and Justin Owens of Stradling Yocca Carlson & Rauth are representing Sansum.

A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 26.

Oxnard firm partners up

Oxnard-based Lowthorp, Richards, McMillan, Miller & Templeman named Cristian Arrieta as a partner of the firm.

Lowthorp Richards specializes in business, estate, family and injury law. Arrieta is a California State University, Northridge graduate who predominantly focuses on trusts and estates, business and property law. He received his juris doctorate from the California Western School of Law and was admitted to the State Bar of California in 2005.

SB law firm expansion

The Law Office of Cristi Michelon Vasquez recently moved from 120 E. De la Guerra St. Ste. B to 132 E. Figueroa St.

It’s scaling up from a 680-square-foot space to about 1,100 square feet. Vasquez and her team can take over the entire building of about 2,000 square feet when the owner of the property moves out, she said.

• Contact Alex Kacik at