News & Insights

Client Alert

January 5, 2024

FBI and DOJ Offer Guidance on SEC Cybersecurity Incident Disclosure Rules

On December 18, 2023, new cybersecurity rules adopted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) became effective.  Among other things, those rules require SEC registrants to disclose certain information about cybersecurity incidents within four days after determining that the incident is material. 

The new SEC rules stipulate that disclosure of material cybersecurity incidents could be delayed for up to 30 days if the U.S. Attorney General or his designee determines that immediate disclosure would pose a substantial risk to national security or public safety and notifies the SEC of such determination in writing.   Under certain circumstances, registrants can also seek subsequent 30- and 60-day delay periods.

On December 6, 2023, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued guidance for companies seeking delays in reporting material cybersecurity incidents. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued its own guidance on December 12, 2023.  This client alert summarizes that guidance.


The FBI guidance explains that it is responsible for intake of delay requests on behalf of the DOJ.  The FBI then coordinates with U.S. government national security and public safety entities on the delay requests before referring the request to DOJ for assessment.  The FBI also coordinates requests for any additional delays in reporting.

In its guidance, the FBI outlined ten items that must be included in a registrant’s delay request.  Those are:

  1. The name of the company;
  2. The date that the cyber incident occurred;
  3. Details – including date, time, and time zone – related to when the victim company determined that the cyber incident was material such that it would require disclosure on Form 8-K or Form 6-K under the SEC cybersecurity rules.
  4. Whether the victim company is already in contact with the FBI or another U.S. government agency regarding this incident, and if so, information about the applicable point of contact;
  5. A detailed description of the cyber incident, including the type of incident; known or suspected intrusion vectors and identified vulnerabilities; affected infrastructure or data and description of how they were affected; and operational impact of the company;
  6. Confirmed or suspected attribution of cyber actors;
  7. Current status of remediation or mitigation efforts;
  8. Location where cyber incident occurred;
  9. Company points of contact for matter and contact details; and
  10. Whether company has previously submitted a delay request and if so, details of last DOJ determination and length of delay granted by DOJ if applicable.

The FBI also noted that a delay request would be denied if the registrant failed to report information about a cyber incident immediately after determining that the incident was material.


The DOJ guidance outlined how, once the FBI had compiled the delay request, the DOJ would then assess that request.  The DOJ explained that its “primary inquiry” would not be whether the underlying cybersecurity incident poses a substantial risk to public safety and national security, but instead whether public disclosure of that incident would threaten public safety and national security. 

The DOJ identified four scenarios under which disclosure of some or all of the information required in Item 1.05 of Form 8-K may pose a substantial risk to national security or public safety and thus merit delayed disclosure.  They are:

  1. The cybersecurity incident involves a technique for which there is not yet a well-known mitigation, and disclosure may lead to additional incidents;
  2. The cybersecurity incident primarily impacts a system operated or maintained by a registrant that contains sensitive U.S. government information and disclosure would increase vulnerability to further exploitation;
  3. The registrant is conducting remediation efforts for any critical infrastructure or critical systems[1See U.S. Dep’t of Just., Department of Justice Material Cybersecurity Incident Delay Determinations (Dec. 12, 2023), (“This category includes systems operated or maintained for the government as well as systems not specifically operated or maintained for the government that contain information the government would view as sensitive, such as that regarding national defense or research and development performed pursuant to government contracts.”). and that would be undermined by disclosure, such as by revealing that the registrant is aware of the cybersecurity incident; and
  4. The U.S. government becomes aware of a cybersecurity incident and believes that disclosure poses a substantial risk to national security or public safety.

On the fourth category, the DOJ explained that the U.S. government may occasionally seek to obtain a registrant’s agreement to delay a disclosure.  The DOJ offered three example scenarios in which the U.S. government, rather than a registrant, may be aware of a substantial risk to national security and public safety, including: (a) when disclosure would risk revealing a confidential source, information relating to U.S. national security, or sensitive law enforcement information; (b) when the U.S. government is prepared to execute or is otherwise aware of an operation to disrupt ongoing illicit cyber activity; and (c) where the U.S. government is aware of or conducting remediation efforts for any critical infrastructure or critical system.

Next Steps 

The FBI and DOJ guidance documents makes clear that the Attorney General’s decisions to grant a national security or public safety exemption to public disclosure of a cybersecurity incident will be based on whether public disclosure of a cybersecurity incident—rather than the effects of the cybersecurity incident itself—poses a substantial risk to public safety or national security.  Companies should consider updating their cyber incident preparation and response plans both to adhere to the new SEC rules and to account for the FBI and DOJ guidance.  In particular, companies should take clear steps to assess the materiality of a cyber incident and create a system for quickly consulting with law enforcement to request delayed reporting of material incidents where disclosure might create such national security or public safety risks.