There are attorneys like me who specialize in this sort of thing. You can find them through a search for Computer Fraud or Internet attorney on this site.
The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Dan's expertise lies in the electronic entertainment (video game) industry, as well as complex internet law issues, electronic free speech, entertainment law, copyright and trademark law, and computer fraud. He primarily represents game developers and founders of emergent internet technologies.
Could you elaborate about the relationship between your advertisers and your site contents? Do you have a duty to protect information about your advertisers?
Most sites serve information to users, and if advertising is involved they serve ads either randomly or based on independent cookies. The only duty that the host would have to the advertiser is to serve ads as agreed.
If the data you serve is hacked, your duty is to whomever that data belongs to. Unless you have a non-standard model with advertisers, like processing orders for them, I cannot think of a duty under which anybody could prevail in a suit.
Please elaborate a little about the relationships. If there is anything proprietary or if you think you may be violating laws, you want to find an Internet attorney and establish an attorney-client relationship; something we cannot do on this site. I usually suggest that people seek a local attorney, but virtual businesses are a little bit different and you can widen your search area substantially.
I am a lawyer, but I am not YOUR lawyer unless we have a written representation agreement in place. This answer DOES NOT ESTABLISH an attorney-client relationship. Answers on Avvo are not intended to replace the advice of an attorney who has conducted a complete intake interview. If any statement I make may be construed in a fashion that violates any laws or ethical guidelines, you may rest assured that I intended it to be construed otherwise.
This forum is for the purpose of asking questions to attorneys. You can do a search on the Avvo site for attorneys such as myself whose practices are focused on Internet law.
This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not create an attorney-client relationship, and is not to be relied upon as legal advice or applied to specific situations. Legal advice is provided only upon execution of a written retainer agreement and after a comprehensive consultation in which all relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
Your concern doesn't contain much information, but this sounds like a cyber security issue. If you have concerns about data security or liability from being hacked, it's wise to obtain cyber insurance addressing your concerns. Not every insurance agent is familiar with insurance related to IP and Internet liability, but with a little research you should be able the find right agent in NY.
Finally, you should ensure that your IT team, or consultant, is taking reasonable steps to ensure the security of your website.
***Please note there are many other steps you can take as a website owner to limit liability. You should consult with an Internet lawyer who will able to make specific recommendation based on a comprehensive understanding of your website and business.
This Avvo.com answer is to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. No attorney/client relationship is formed, unless you and I enter into a written retainer agreement.
As my colleagues note, the devil is in the details in every situation---anyone who operates a web-site such as this should work closely with intellectual property counsel. This web-site is not a good substitute for retaining and working with legal counsel. I haven noticed over the years that many Doctors and Dentists think they can out-smart the lawyers, and handle their legal affairs on their own. I have made a career of working with Doctors---and I can tell you war stories about dozens of my medical doctor clients who got themselves in big legal trouble because they thought they were smarter than the lawyers and could do without them. Please don't make the same mistake---and don't use this web-site as a substitute for retaining legal counsel.
I understand your concern having represented website operators and spoken on cyber security in a number of media outlets and through my own radio show -- Cyber Law and Business Report. You probably should consult with an internet lawyer familiar with these topics and the evolving nature of cyber security. If you want to lose sleep at night, there is a great report on the Russian Underground 101 published by Trend Micro that details how cheap cyber crime has become.