The expansive nature of the internet, and internet related technologies, has called for laws and regulations that govern the way internet users behave online.
What do you mean by cyber law?
Cyber law is a branch of the legal system that deals with legal issues surrounding the internet by providing protection to those that use it. This part of the overall legal system covers matters such as online privacy, freedom of expression, and censorship.
Because of the semi-recent invention and increasing popularity of the internet, cyber law is one of the most recent additions to the legal system. New? Yes. Important? Even more so. Abiding by cyber law is important to any individual that uses the internet, which added up to 4.5 billion people as of June 2019.
A key player in the importance of cyber law is the ongoing presence of cybercrime. A cybercrime, or cyberattack, is any criminal activity that involves a computer and a network. There are a lot of high-profile crimes that can be executed using the internet, including hacking, unwarranted surveillance, and online stalking.
Categories of cybercrime
There are three categories of cybercrime, each with their own common forms of attack.
1. Crimes against people
One of the worst things about the internet is that people can hide behind screens when committing crimes. Even though these crimes are happening online, they can still have a significantly negative impact on people.
Here are some examples of the most common cyber crimes against people:
Cyber harassment and stalking: using the internet to stalk or harass an individual
Spoofing: disguising communication from an unknown source as being from a trusted, known source
Identity theft: using someone else’s identity to gain a financial advantage or other benefit at the loss of the person whose identity has been stolen
Credit card fraud: theft or fraud committed using a payment card
Online defamation: oral or written false statements that harms someone’s reputation
2. Crimes against property
While crimes against property will ultimately affect individuals, they are committed by attacking the computer or the server.
Counteracting cybercrime is cybersecurity, a technique used to protect computers, networks, programs, and data from exploitation. Effectively protecting oneself from cybercrime is more difficult now than ever. The number of devices keeps multiplying, and hackers get more and more innovative every year.
Cyber security strategies
Don’t worry, there is hope. Implementing the following cybersecurity strategies can help you be proactive in fighting cybercrime.
Protect your information
Take full advantage of antivirus software to ensure your information is kept out of the hands of cyber criminals. These tools can detect the presence of malicious software, protecting your devices and any information they hold.
Educate your employees on the dangers of cybercrime, social engineering, and how it can affect your organization. Establish security practices, expectations for behavior, and penalties for any violator. This also includes creating a system for reporting any cybercrime.
Install firewall software
Guard your entire network with a firewall, which is an extra layer of security between your network and outside threats. You can even use the same firewall to protect remote employees' devices.
Don’t forget about the hardware! Make sure all computers and laptops are securely put away when not in use. Stealing a piece of hardware just makes a hacker’s life easier.
Update your systems
The software you use to protect your business from outside cyber threats are most effective when updated regularly. Remember to update your tools.
There is a lot of software associated with protecting your information from cybercrime. Losing track of it all? Use G2 Track to manage your tools and software spend.
Cyber laws and enforcement
The federal government has stepped in to help protect citizens and business’ from being victims of cybercrime. There are three laws that have been in place for quite a while that laid the foundation of cybersecurity.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (1996) - HIPAA reduces health care fraud and abuse, mandates standards for electronic billing, and requires that health information remain protected and confidential.
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (1999) - The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act requires any institution that offers loans, financial advice, or insurance to explain their information sharing with customers.
Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) (2002) - A part of the Homeland Security Act, FISMA requires federal agencies to develop and implement an information security and protection program.
Because the internet and technology are constantly introducing innovations and updates, the laws that govern them need to adjust accordingly. Along with revising old laws, there are a couple of newer laws that the federal government introduced to improve cybersecurity measures even further.
Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act - A law designed to improve cybersecurity by sharing information about it.
Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014: A law that is meant to strengthen cybersecurity research and development, education, awareness, and preparedness.
Federal Exchange Data Breach Notification Act of 2015: A law that requires that individuals are notified if their personal information was acquired due to a breach of data.
National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act of 2015: An updated version of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
Cyber law trends
There are some areas in cyber law that are of more interest than others, mainly net neutrality, free speech on the internet, and censorship on the internet.
Net neutrality is a principle that regulates the infrastructure of the internet. It states that internet service providers need to treat all internet communication equally, and that they cannot discriminate based on the user, content, platform, equipment, source address, or method of communication. With this principle, internet service providers are prohibited from intentionally blocking, slowing service, or charging for specific content.
Freedom of speech on the internet
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights demands freedom of expression in any form of media. While most people respectfully use this freedom, there have been a couple of cases that have challenged it. Obscene internet posts, libel and slander, and the distribution of illegal programs have all tested the limits of freedom of speech on the internet.
Internet censorship refers to what can be accessed, published, or viewed on the internet. Internet users can engage in censorship for a lot of reasons: moral, religious, business, intimidation, or fear of legal consequences.
The extent to which nations censor citizens’ internet access varies from country to country. Most democratic nations have only moderate amounts of censorship. However, there are plenty of others that limit the amount of information its citizens can access, including the news of their own home. The goal of this type of internet censorship is to limit discussion among citizens on topics regarding the government.
Due to the semi-frequent nature of cyber attacks, cyber lawyers are in high demand nowadays. More often than not, cyber lawyers work for either a private practice or the federal government.
Cyber lawyers that work for the government can work as criminal lawyers, or work at an agency that specializes in cyber laws, where they would enforce those laws and help the public use the internet safely. Private attorneys also work in cyber law, where they might defend clients facing cybercrime charges. A lot of times these charges are regarding cyber contracts or domain uses.
It is important for cyber lawyers to understand the best way their clients can abide by cyber law depending on their industry. For example, if a cyber lawyer is working with a healthcare organization, they would give them the information and resources they need to keep patient information confidential and avoid a lawsuit.
Before hiring a lawyer, consider consulting with a cybersecurity service provider that can offer a wide range of services to help protect your computer systems.
Laws of the web
Cyber law is there to govern the way people behave online. While it might seem restricting to some looking to use the internet freely, it also protects us from those looking to use the internet with malintent. The internet is a gift, and cyber law is there to keep us safe while enjoying it.
Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 in Chicago, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)