Cybersecurity, in the face of growing information technology and malicious actors, has continued to become more and more important. As the internet and technology become more ingrained in our lives, woven into our daily lives, so are the complexities of information and our vulnerability to hacking, ransom, and other crimes.
Consequently, professionals trained to handle the legalities of this information and criminal behavior are increasing. Cyberlaw, with cybersecurity as a branch, is gaining more traction as more companies, governments and private individuals do major businesses online. The regular transfer of information makes it easy for people to intercept and do malicious things with these pieces of information.
Cybersecurity seeks to protect people and organizations from criminal or unauthorized use of electronic data.
What Is a Cybersecurity Law
Cybersecurity seeks to prevent criminals from getting hold of data, so what then is the job of a cybersecurity lawyer?
First, we need to understand what cybersecurity law is.
Cybersecurity law, according to Norwich University, is legislation focused on the acceptable behavioral use of technology, including computer hardware, software, the internet, and networks. Cybercrime law, which is another term for cybersecurity law, protects businesses, government organizations and private individuals from criminals unlawfully gaining access to their data and using the data for malicious activities.
A cybersecurity lawyer needs to be first grounded in the laws of the land and understand not only these laws but also how technology works. A cybersecurity lawyer must understand legal jargon and technology.
What Does a Cybersecurity Lawyer Do
In addition to having a strong grasp of privacy law, a cybersecurity attorney in the United States must understand the foundation of cybersecurity statutes: the Electronic Communication Privacy Act, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Stored Communications Act, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015, data breach notification laws, the Federal Trade Commission Act and many more laws.
A cybersecurity attorney advises individuals and organizations on how to implement strategies to meet state, federal, and international legal requirements, serve as crisis managers during any form of cyber misconduct to mitigate loss and ensure organizations and individuals are adhering to the law and represent clients before regulatory bodies.
Cybersecurity lawyers can work as either litigators or advisers to firms and government agencies.
A cybersecurity attorney that works as an adviser will assist a business with pre-litigation matters. But a litigator is skilled in criminal and civil prosecution with a deep understanding of cyberspace and how it works.
What Subject Areas Should Be In a Cybersecurity Lawyer’s Portfolio
Cybersecurity attorneys, to be successful, must have portfolios with:
- A deep understanding of how government works
- Thorough knowledge of litigation
- Understanding of the client’s internal practices
- GOVERNMENT: A cybersecurity attorney must understand all the cyber laws (and there are many). In understanding these laws, and the government agencies tasked with upholding the laws and statutes on cybercrime, cybersecurity lawyers can help their private organizations build sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships with these agencies and use all these laws to their benefit.
There are different ways the different government agencies, e.g., FBI, CISA (Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency), etc., can help private organizations. These agencies can also help private companies deal with cyber-attacks on their proprietary data and provide useful tools.
Since cyber threats can be international, understanding how international laws and treaties work is a necessity for a cybersecurity lawyer who wants to give his client the best representation.
For example, a strong grasp of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, the first international treaty that sought to address internet and computer crime by harmonizing national laws, improving investigative techniques, and increasing cooperation among nations, will help a cybersecurity lawyer to broker deals between different countries that adhere to these laws.
When a cybersecurity lawyer fully understands how national and international governments operate, and the laws put in place, the lawyer can lead his/her organization through the usually murky cybersecurity landscape in peace.
Cybersecurity lawyers must also be abreast of new national and international cyber laws so that they can help their clients make informed cyber-related decisions.
In July 2021, three tech companies behind the coloring book app ReColor were required to pay $3 million in civil penalties for privacy...
- LITIGATION: Understanding the litigation landscape will help a cybersecurity attorney navigate state and federal court decisions and how they affect the client.
When there are new cases and judgments in courts, these cases serve as benchmarks on what government officials and agencies are looking out for. A cybersecurity lawyer should track litigations that deal with cybersecurity and advise their client accordingly.
- INTERNAL PRACTICES: To effectively run a company in the information age, every company needs a cybersecurity attorney to help in the risk assessment process.
When running a risk assessment, for example, a cyber lawyer must help direct the assessment and reduce potential liability. With a cybersecurity lawyer as part of the risk assessment process, a company can use best and legal practices in its cybersecurity program.
In addition, when a company wants to communicate cybersecurity-related information, they need a cybersecurity lawyer to review the communication message and sign off on it before sending the information is communicated.
The lawyer will ensure the communication adequately describes the company’s risk and drastically limits the possibility for liability.
A cybersecurity attorney must also be heavily involved in the drafting and evaluation of contracts that involve data sharing and information transfer on the internet. The lawyer should include approved and established cybersecurity and technology-related clauses that benefit all parties involved.
Finally, in mergers and acquisitions, the cybersecurity lawyer must be familiar with the risks associated with mergers, acquisitions and divestitures. The attorney’s strong knowledge in this will help him/her avoid and easily detect possible cyber risks involved in the merger and acquisition.
How To Become a Cybersecurity Lawyer
The first step in becoming a cybersecurity attorney is getting your law degree, which means at least two years of law school after the bachelor’s degree.
However, many of the cybersecurity lawyers in Europe and the United States entered into cybersecurity law with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or B.Tech and later went on to acquire legal degrees, e.g., JD or LLB.
If you have a law degree, you will then go on to develop your skills in different cyber and technological niches such as networking, OSI models, and different operating systems e.g., Windows, MacIntosh, Linux, etc. Certificates in all kinds of tech come in handy.
Once you have the law degree and the necessary tech background, you can then take specialty courses in cyber law at law schools such as Loyola or University of Maryland. You can also do a PG diploma in India or LLM, a master’s degree, in cyber law.You can improve your skills by taking specialized cyber law-related courses such as CCFP, CFCE and many others, which are forensic courses.
The field of cybersecurity law is growing, so the requirements will change as new cyber threats emerge. But the crux of being an excellent cybersecurity attorney is understanding and interpreting laws and statutes well.
Cybersecurity laws are still in the nascent stage, so there is a need for every cybersecurity lawyer to keep up with the changing legislative and technology climate.
Excellent cybersecurity attorneys are those with a deep understanding of the law and its interpretation. Technical skills are important, but without a proper understanding of legal principles, all technical skills are useless.
Always be open to learning and improving, and you’ll make a successful cybersecurity attorney.