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As our lives move inexorably online, the nature of cyber crime has also changed. Individual cyber criminals are giving way to complex international cyber crime networks whose offences, from “phishing” and “ad clicking” to hacking and global ransomware attacks, are capable of causing major international disruption and financial loss. The National Crime Survey estimates in the region of two million computer misuse offences were committed in England & Wales alone during 2016. For businesses in all sectors, the risks from cyber crime are escalating, with the potential for severe financial implications and reputational damage.
Numerous high profile cases, such as the hacking of companies’ computer systems resulting in extensive unauthorised access to customers’ data, have led to widespread media coverage and public concern. Action is being taken at a national level, such as the reinforcement of the National Crime Agency’s Cyber Crime Team and the National Cyber Security Centre and the updating and strengthening of legislation to attempt to ensure an effective deterrent.
BCL advises companies and individuals regarding a wide variety of cyber security issues. We provide rapid assistance to companies and individuals in the immediate aftermath of an incident, such as a cyber attack or the commencement of an investigation by a regulator or enforcement agency.
We have extensive experience of investigations and prosecutions, including those of a multi-jurisdictional nature, from general criminal offences which have an online dimension to dedicated offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (for example, hacking). We regularly advise regarding data protection issues falling within the scope of the Information Commissioner’s Office. Large monetary penalties can be imposed for contraventions of the data protection principles, and specialist advice is essential in responding to such breaches (or allegations of breaches). We also have experience in advising regarding offences under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which can arise in the context of online copyright infringements, for example relating to film and music. We are able to provide practical and intelligible guidance to companies on the UK legislative framework.
The lead partner in the team, Michael Drury, has unrivalled expertise in the fields of interception and surveillance, being responsible in part for drafting the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. We have advised companies, including communications service providers such as mobile phone and VoIP call providers, regarding issues such as interception of communications and the retention, acquisition and disclosure of communications data.
Our long-standing market leading expertise in criminal investigations and prosecutions, for example regarding fraud and financial crime, complements our cyber security capability. Our internal expertise, coupled with strong links with specialist advisors, in some of the UK’s leading digital forensic services firms, means that we are able to provide comprehensive advice in this evolving and technically complex area.