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US Justice Department Gets Serious about Cyber Crime

US Justice Department Gets Serious about Cyber Crime

With cyber crime costs increasing 80 percent, the US Justice Department has created a new unit to combat cyber crime. Read on for more about changing cyber laws.

Monday, January 5, 2015/Categories: cyber-risk

Insurance Journal reports that the US Justice Department will create a new unit focused on…

  • Preventing cyber crime.
  • Assisting private entities confused about data privacy laws.
  • Encouraging information sharing between investigators and private companies.

After the Edward Snowden saga, businesses have been shy about communicating with government officials about data security. Officials suspect that this timidity is the result of businesses wanting to avoid the bad PR that comes from sharing data with the government that was snooping on them.

For its part, the FBI plans to share more of its own information about threats with private companies. It's worth noting that these news efforts aren't focused on prosecuting cyber criminals. Rather, they're an attempt to prevent more cyber crime and limit its damage. The Justice Department hopes that increased communication will slow down the troubling increase in cyber crime.

FBI: Cyber Crime Is Skyrocketing

According to FedTech, 20 percent of FBI cases are now cyber crime. And that number keeps increasing.

Unless you've been living under a rock, this won't come as a surprise. Every week, new stories come out about vulnerabilities, data breaches, privacy violations, and other cyber risks. News media now covers cyber crime with the same excitement they once reserved for celebrity gossip and political scandal.

Why is cyber crime increasing? Before we answer that question, it's helpful to take a step back and define cyber crime. Cyber crime can refer to…

  • Attacks from foreign agencies.
  • Cyber terrorism.
  • Organized crime and identity theft hacks.
  • Insider threats.
  • Hacktivists.

We've seen high-profile attacks in each of these areas. The recent Sony Pictures hack – reportedly committed by a North Korean group retaliating for the Seth Rogan and James Franco movie The Interview – is a prime example of how foreign government attacks have even started to affect private businesses.

Cyber attacks have likely increased because the world is more connected and the technology to commit these crimes is cheaper. Nowadays, anyone can hire a botnet to launch a DDoS attack. There are so many variants of malware and so many new attacks launched daily that it's much easier for criminals to slip past security software.

It's not just the number of cyber attacks that's been increasing; it's also the cost. According to Beta News, from 2010 to 2013, the cost of cyber crime increased almost 80 percent. It's clear why lawmakers have been scrambling to do something.

New Cyber Crime Fighters Might Mean Changes to Cyber Security Laws

The Justice Department's expanded efforts and new cyber crime division might not be the only changes we see to cyber law enforcement.

Right now, there is no federal data breach law. Instead, each state sets its own requirements (read, "Four States Update Data Breach Notification Laws," for data breach law changes in 2014). But Congress is always making noise about passing a comprehensive federal data breach law.

In the months after the Target data breach, three different data breach laws were proposed. The Department of Homeland Security also weighed in, producing optional data security guidelines (called the Critical Infrastructure Cyber Community or ) for key private infrastructure like telecom and banking.

It's unclear if Congress will actually pass any data breach laws in the coming years, but it's clear that lawmakers and law enforcement agencies are taking these threats more seriously and trying to combat the shocking increase in the costs and frequency of cyber crime.

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