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Legal Approaches to Tackling Emerging Cyber Threats

Cyber threats in various forms have been around since technology allowed it. Hackers, security attacks, phishing, malware, Internet of Things (IoT) attacks, and social engineering are a few of the many ways organizations and people can have their information stolen. As technology evolves, defensive risk strategies and risk management tactics must evolve with it. Additionally, risk management and compliance play a critical role.

Seattle University School of Law offers an online Master of Legal Studies in Compliance and Risk Management that educates our students for a career in cybersecurity. The degree offers five concentrations, one of which is cybersecurity compliance. This not only paves the path for a specialized degree but also gives students immersion in the regulatory data they’ll use in their day-to-day lives.

Emerging Cyber Threats

How Risk Management and Compliance Provides Mitigation

Risk management and compliance equate to the defensive side of a sports team. The systems and protections in place allow for organizations that hold protected information to keep everything locked down. Vigilance ensures the protection of data from the top cybersecurity threats. Regulatory, economic, and moral frameworks are involved in safeguarding our most sensitive and critical information

1. Phishing

Phishing is one of the oldest attacks to exist. According to the FBI, phishing is one of the most reported cyber attacks in the United States. And it is on the rise. Research by Acronis showed that the number of email-based phishing attacks surged 464% in the first half of 2023. 

Whether you’re at work or home on a personal device, it is easy to fall prey to phishing attacks. Websites and emails look more legitimate so you might think you are inputting information into a secure place. 

How to Mitigate

Compliance is critical in mitigating phishing attacks. Ensuring security systems are up-to-date, making employees more difficult to reach, training employees on the warning signs, and keeping up with password protections are a few ways compliance officers ensure the protection of their company. 

2. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are a type of malware. It essentially gains access to a security system and holds the data or device hostage. It keeps this information locked or threatens to release it unless the threat actor gets paid their ransom. The options then become costly in two different ways: either financially in paying the ransom or in other ways losing their data. 

How to Mitigate

Backup systems and up-to-date technologies are critical, as well as secure networks. In an increasingly remote work world post-pandemic, employees logging in through public networks can pose a risk for companies big and small. Making sure all data is stored separately, putting on multi-factor authentication, and keeping security heightened helps diminish the risk.

3. Cloud Vulnerabilities 

Most information is stored in the cloud. This makes things easy to access from multiple points, which is a huge benefit for remote work and for larger companies that may be tapping into the organization’s network from places all around the globe. It also means that breaches on the cloud give hackers access to all information instead of the limited information available through a platform – such as work email – that is always internet-based. 

How to Mitigate

Limiting access to cloud resources helps to make sure only approved persons gain access Additionally, tools that detect misconfigurations in cloud policies can help identify possible weaknesses and openings for breaches before they occur. Data encryption and multi-factor authentication keep contents much more secure. Finally, regular scanning for vulnerabilities helps mitigate any damage before it can occur.

4. Social Engineering

Social engineering, another form of cyber attack, is painful on a different level because it is not just a program that nestles into the system or cloud and wrecks havoc. Instead, it consists of human interactions manipulated so that employees or individuals give out sensitive information. Crowdstrike research outlined how sophisticated human adversaries look to evade defenses – with the report finding 71% of attacks detected were malware-free. Cybercriminals create fake personas online and gain the trust of their targets. It is a scheme that takes more legwork and time but nonetheless can be successful.

How to Mitigate

Risk management and compliance officers need to hold continuous security trainings so that employees identify and avoid red flags and threatening situations. User education is the most important piece of the battle. Repeated reminders of the types of scams out there might seem tiresome, but they keep everyone’s guard up and also present the opportunity to warn about of new ones. The COVID-19 pandemic, for example, saw a huge increase in these types of scams. People who were unemployed and searching for jobs would undergo actual interviews just to get scammed for their bank account money. 

In addition to awareness, having secure lines and VPNs also makes it harder for others to gain access to the system even if the information might get inadvertently leaked.

5. AI

Artificial intelligence is taking the world by storm. As its capabilities increase, people are questioning the impact it will have on everyday life. Artificial intelligence can help by gathering data and assessing risk in a more efficient manner for human review. However, AI can also be manipulated. Data poisoning and disinformation will have a higher spread once the use of AI becomes even more commonplace. 

How to Mitigate

Software development and utilization of the most advanced version of the program is the first step. Detection techniques exist, and having the best and updated systems helps detect whether there has been any AI manipulation.

The Importance of Guarding Against Cyber Attacks

While these attacks have always been a threat, the danger has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. In having everyone stay home, the cyber framework was forever altered for companies and their employees. We have become a much more virtual world and many more places function in a fully remote or hybrid option. Organizational compliance and ethics greatly shifted.

Cybersecurity attacks have a myriad of negative consequences. The most vital consequence is a breach of data. Protected information can be sensitive data, such as health and medical if it is a hospital that was breached. It can be financial, such as in banks or credit card accounts. If the attack dives into a company and all of its proprietary knowledge, it might even learn trade secrets. 

These attacks affect a person if their health or financial information is available for the taking. Money can get routed to the wrong location if it gets a hold within a company. If it’s customer information that gets out, customers are not only personally affected but also lose faith in the organization they were doing business with. 

Cyber attacks are also costly. Damage control, whether it is regaining what was lost or putting in extra measures to prevent an attack from happening again, can be costly for a company. The average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9.4 million.

Playing defense helps prevent not only business ruin but financial ruin. 

What an MLS Degree Can Do For You

The need for risk and compliance officers will never wane. In an increasingly digital world, these cyber threats are constant as well as constantly evolving. Companies everywhere and in every industry need their information protected. Risk management works to continuously assess loss exposure and risk control. Compliance keeps organizations at the forefront of technology that protects them. Organizations need professionals with expertise in cybersecurity and data privacy to guide both real-world and online operations.

Seattle University School of Law’s MLS program is ideal for those who want to expand their career opportunities. The additional compliance knowledge helps gain career traction. This degree allows students to work within the legal field without needing to become an attorney or work as one. 

Our courses are developed specifically to prepare our students for a role in the complex world of contemporary compliance and risk management. Learn how to integrate the legal system into compliance and risk as well as perform critical non-attorney roles ethically and with cultural competency regardless of industry or business environment. Graduates are ready for careers as compliance officers, cybersecurity program analysts, information security officers, and more. 

Our program not only expands career options for our students, it does so while providing flexibility. The MLS is completely online. Asynchronous and synchronous components mean that students can balance between live sessions and getting work done on their schedule. You no longer need to mold your life obligations to the demands of a degree. 

If you want to keep data secure and companies out of reach of cyber criminals, consider an MLS in Risk Management and Compliance from Seattle University School of Law. Contact our admissions office today to get started.

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