In today’s post-pandemic world, most businesses and organizations have moved towards remote work and digital access to services across every domain. But by doing so, they have started to face serious threats of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Exploiting vulnerabilities in the infrastructure and other tactics that malicious hackers use to carry out these cyberattacks are becoming more advanced and sophisticated with each passing day, perpetually increasing the risk of a serious data breach.
Therefore, it has become imperative for organizations to understand the legal nuances of cybersecurity laws. With limited knowledge of cybersecurity standards, different businesses and organizations might end up with a subpar cybersecurity infrastructure that doesn’t comply with federal laws. This should encourage the management of organizations to get familiar with the key cyber security laws, which cover requirements under federal law. To learn more about the need for cyber law and cybercrime regulation, be sure to check out IT Security classes.
What is Cyber Law?
Cyber laws, more commonly known as internet laws, are laws that are related to legal informatics, regulating the digital distribution of information, e-commerce, software, and information security. It usually covers many related areas, such as usage and access to the Internet, freedom of speech, and privacy.
Why Cybercrime Laws?
Many security and privacy issues arise with the use of the internet. Ingenious criminals have been known to use advanced strategies to carry out unauthorized activities and potential fraud. Therefore, the need to protect against them is substantial, and the most effective method of doing so is to enforce a cyber security policy. These policies and laws are made to protect individuals and businesses online by holding these criminals accountable for their malicious actions and sentencing them to appropriate punishment as decided by the federal government.
Role of Cyber Laws in Cybersecurity
Cyber laws are integral to the use of the internet and serve a variety of purposes. Most of these laws are there to protect users from becoming victims of cybercrimes, while others are made to regulate the usage of the internet and computers in general. Cyber laws cover these three primary areas:
- Fraud: Cyber laws protect users from falling victim to online fraud. They exist to prevent crimes such as credit card and identity theft. These laws also declare federal and state criminal charges for anyone that attempts to commit such fraud.
- Copyright: Cyber laws also prevent copyright infringement and enforce copyright protection. They provide individuals and businesses with the right to protect their creative works and to profit from them.
- Defamation: Cyber laws are also enforced in online defamation cases, which provide individuals and businesses protection against false allegations made online that can be harmful to their reputations.
Cybersecurity or cyber-crime law comprises directives that safeguard information technology with the purpose of forcing companies and organizations to protect their systems and information from cyberattacks using numerous measures. Below, we will take a quick look at the several types of international cyber law and cybercrime regulations in India, the United States, and the European Union.
Cyber Security Laws in India
India has four predominant laws when it comes to cybersecurity:
- Information Technology Act (2000): Enacted by the parliament of India, the information technology act was made to safeguard the e-governance, e-banking, and e-commerce sectors; but now, its scope has been enhanced to encompass all the latest communication devices.
- Indian Penal Code (IPC) (1980): This cybercrime prevention act has primary relevance to cyber frauds concerning identity theft and other sensitive information theft.
- Companies Act (2013): With the companies act enacted back in 2013, the legislature ensured that all the regulatory compliances are covered, including e-discovery, cyber forensics, and cybersecurity diligence. The Companies Act provides guidelines for the responsibilities of the company directors and leaders concerning confirming cybersecurity obligations.
- NIST Compliance: The Cybersecurity Framework (NCFS), authorized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), contains all the guidelines, standards, and best practices necessary to responsibly address cybersecurity risks.
Cybersecurity Laws in the United States (US)
1. Federal Government
In the United States, there are three main federal cybersecurity regulations:
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (1996): Enacted by 104th United States Congress, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act attempts to control and modernize medical and healthcare information flow.
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (1999): Enacted by the 106th United States Congress, The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act made it mandatory for financial institutions, meaning companies that provide consumers products or services like loans, financial or investment advice, or insurance to explain their information-sharing practices to their customers and to safeguard their sensitive data.
- Homeland Security Act (2002): The Homeland Security Act included the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), which attempts to recognize the importance of information security to the economic and national security interests of the United States
2. State Government
State government regulations attempt to improve cybersecurity by making valuable information, like organizations with weak cybersecurity, known to the public.
- Notice of Security Breach Act (2003): After this act was enacted, companies that handled sensitive customer data (such as names, credit card numbers, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, medical records, or financial information) were required to publicly disclose any security or data breach that has happened within their organization. This regulation created an incentive for companies to voluntarily invest a good portion of the budget to build a secure infrastructure to avoid potential loss of reputation.
- California Assembly Bill 1950 (2004): This regulation was passed by the California State Legislature back in 2004 and made a requirement for companies to maintain a reasonable level of cybersecurity, along with extending those security practices to their business partners to maintain an acceptable standard of cybersecurity.
3. Proposed Regulation
Other numerous bills have been proposed by the US Congress over the past few years that expand upon cybersecurity regulations:
- Consumer Data Security and Notification Act: This act expands upon the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act by requiring financial institutions to disclose any data or security breaches.
- Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass Act (SPY ACT): The SPY ACT was passed by the US House of Representatives in 2005 but died in the US Senate. It focused on phishing and spyware scams.
- Cybersecurity Act of 2012: This act also failed to pass the US Senate when it was proposed back in 2012. It proposed anti-cybercrime law and aimed to improve the cybersecurity infrastructure and protect it from cyberattacks, which businesses would be encouraged to adopt through incentives such as liability protection.
- Cybersecurity National Security Action Plan (CNAP): Developed by President Obama in 2016, the main objective of the plan was to create awareness among the public about the growing threat of cybercrimes and inform them how they could improve and control digital security.
4. Other Government Efforts
The federal government of the United States has made attempts to improve cybersecurity by allocating more resources to research and collaborating with the private sector to declare appropriate standards and enact important cyber laws. Besides that, the government has started different awareness programs through social media to make the public more conscious of the threats of cybercrimes.
Cybersecurity Laws in the European Union
There are four major regulations within the European Union regarding cybersecurity. They include ENISA, the NIS Directive, EU Cybersecurity Act, and the EU GDPR, which we will briefly discuss:
- European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA): ENISA is a governing agency that was set up for the purpose of raising network and information security across all internetwork operations of the EU. It was established back in 2004, with 3 major purposes: (i). The recommended course of action following a security breach. (ii). Making policies and support for their implementation. (iii). Direct support.
- NIS Directive: In 2016, the European Parliament set into policy the Network and Information Systems (NIS) Directive with the aim to generally improve cybersecurity across all networks of the EU. It focused mainly on digital service providers (DSPs) and operators of essential services (OESs). OESs are organizations that are involved in critical societal or economic activities and will be severely affected by security or data breaches. Both DSPs and OESs are required to report any such incident to the Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRT).
- EU Cybersecurity Act: The EU Cybersecurity Act provides a certification framework for companies across the EU regarding cybersecurity for digital products, services, and processes.
- EU GDPR: EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was established in 2016 but wasn’t enforced until May 2018. The EU GDPR aims to bring a single standard for data protection among all member states in the EU.
Cyber Security Issues Not Currently Covered Under Federal Law
As documented by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), several issues in the cybersecurity sector are still not covered under federal law. The most prominent ones include the following:
- Limit the collection and use of personal information and ensure that it is collected with appropriate consent.
- Protect the privacy of the public by improving federal efforts.
- Develop and implement a comprehensive federal strategy for nationwide cybersecurity infrastructures.
- Address cyber security workforce management issues.
- Address weaknesses in the already developed federal cybersecurity regulations.
What are the Advantages of Cyber Laws?
Cyber laws protect the public and organizations from falling victim to cybercrimes, along with protecting their privacy online. Therefore, the advantages of establishing such laws are endless, but for the sake of understanding the substantial benefits, let us go through a few main points:
- Just like usual laws that dictate what individuals or entities can and cannot do in a society, cyber laws dictate all the actions that take place on the internet and cyberspace in general.
- Like physical transactions, online transactions are also protected under federal law.
- Cybercrime officials constantly monitor online activities so that any illegal activity, such as cybercrimes or frauds, can be dealt with due diligence.
- Establishes laws that can be enforced to punish cyber criminals.
- Cyber laws help to establish digital governance.
Emerging Trends of Cyber Law
As cyberspace keeps on advancing exponentially, cyber laws also need to be updated and reinforced to make sure they are as comprehensive as possible. Below are a few emerging trends in cyber law:
- The growing awareness of online privacy by the public means that it needs to be addressed as extensively as possible by the federal government.
- With the introduction of Cloud Computing, vast amounts of data are flowing between computers, opening many vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Laws governing these facilities also need to be enacted.
- Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have become a major trend, demanding rules and regulations to assure safe banking and transactions.
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What is the Scope of Cyber Law?
Considerable advancements have been made in the cybersecurity workspace, responding to the ever-increasing malicious cybercrimes. However, these crimes aren’t covered adequately under current laws and regulations. This calls for effective measures by the government to enact new laws and acts that are both: comprehensive and effective to combat these risks and to resolve and address complexities and difficulties posed by rapidly emerging technologies.
What Happens If You Break a Cyber Security Law?
The nature of the sentence depends greatly on the type of attack that was carried out and how much data was exposed. These sentences may include fines or fees, serving time, or, even worse, public shaming of the organization that can adversely affect the reputation of that organization. Even the slightest cybersecurity offense can carry hefty charges and is a troublesome process to go through. Let’s take a quick look at the possible penalties for violating the two most common acts in the US:
- Violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) can carry fines anywhere from $50 to $50,000 per record, with prison time ranging from 1 to 10 years.
- Violators of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act can be charged up to $100,000 with up to 5 years in prison.
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Advancing cybercrimes can be controlled effectively but requires collaborative efforts by governments, regulatory agencies, and companies around the world. As cyberspace becomes more common, the need for cybersecurity laws and regulations governing each action and activity is paramount to maintaining a safe, secure, and accessible environment for everyone. In the upcoming years, the government is expected to make considerable advancements with cyber laws, but their effectiveness would ultimately depend on the users. If you are deciding to pursue a career in Cyber Security, visit KnowledgeHut’s Cyber Security classes for further help.