Criminals commit cyber crimes when the benefits outweigh the costs. Preventing cyber crime depends not only on cybersecurity defenses, but also on a law enforcement enterprise that can identify, indict and convict those who violate state and federal computer crime laws. Some state laws, however, do not prohibit unwanted acts. Many state law enforcement agencies are ill-equipped to enforce the laws that do apply. Additionally, these agencies are subject to damaging cyber crimes as well.
What are the primary challenges for public safety agencies?
In November 2016, a teenager launched a distributed denial of service attack that disrupted 9-1-1 dispatch centers in over 12 states. In April of 2017, tornado sirens in Dallas, Texas were hacked and triggered an alarm, for nearly two hours in the middle of the night. Although the impact of these two events were minimal, they could have had large implications if they were coordinated during an emergency.
Many police agencies rely on outdated computer systems, which are especially vulnerable to hackers aiming to extort victims. In one of many examples, in 2017, police in a Texas town lost eight years’ worth of evidence after hackers locked their official files, and leaders refused to pay to recover them.
Ensure state law targets all computer-based activities that policymakers deem criminal, and that all laws carry an appropriate penalty. Recent updates made by state legislatures across the country include: