Cybersecurity’s Legal Gray Areas

Cybersecurity is a fast-growing arena that is constantly changing. New threats arise every day–and often the law hasn’t grown fast enough to keep up with them. Cybersecurity’s legal gray areas are all too familiar to many hackers.

Legal Parameters for CybersecurityCybersecurity's Legal Gray Areas

Cybersecurity’s legal limits cover plenty of ground. With around 90 federal laws in the United States alone intended to govern digital security, it’s obvious that the government is taking cyber crime seriously. The problem is that those laws don’t necessarily build on each other–and they’re still leaving plenty of gray area in the middle. Unfortunately, cyber crime is new enough that many laws simply haven’t caught up to what cyber criminals are capable of doing. As the internet continues to grow, chances are, the law will still struggle to keep up with the potential ramifications.

At its heart, the problem with cyber security is that no one is quite sure who is responsible for enforcing ethical behavior at the cyber level. To provide adequate protection, it is critical both local security, in the form of responsibility by the business, and global (or at least nationwide) security in the form of laws, a digital police force, and other organization work together to create an effective framework to help reduce the gray area.

Defining the Gray Zone

Actively hacking into a company’s system is, obviously, both illegal and immoral. Protecting your business, from erecting firewalls to encrypting data that needs to be kept private, is a white hat necessity in today’s digital world. Somewhere between the two, however, is a moral and legal grey area where cyber criminals love to work.

No Physical Boundaries

The internet lacks the physical boundaries that most people are used to when it comes to crime. A police officer who catches you speeding can only pull you over within their own jurisdiction. When a criminal robs a house, it’s the local officers who will respond to deal with the problem. The federal government gets involved when more serious crime is at play and will take the search across state lines if necessary. Cyber crime, however, lacks physical boundaries, and as a result it can be difficult to decide who is responsible for persecution in a cyber attack.

Laws Don’t Always Connect

Not every country has laws that appropriately punish cyber criminals–particularly depending on the type of crime they’ve committed. Because the internet is a global phenomenon, hackers in other countries may experience different penalties than those imposed in the United States. Unfortunately, global adoption of a single policy is almost impossible.

Lack of Organization

In the military, there’s a strict code that everyone must live by. They have rules of engagement that must be followed even for combat. Unfortunately, cyber crime lacks that structure. Hackers working for the military are creating their own rules of engagement, and as a result it is difficult to define the grey area where they operate.

Cybersecurity’s gray area is unlikely to disappear any time soon, and therefore it is the responsibility of each business to protect itself. Just as a business employs physical security measures with locks, security cameras, and security guards, the same level of attention must be provided to protect data with digital security measures.

To learn more about protecting your business against the growing threats to cyber security, contact us today.

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