The FBI has reported a rise in reports of cybercrime since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to the months before the pandemic began, reports have quadrupled. At the beginning of April, The US National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) warned businesses that cybercriminals could be targeting a company’s intellectual property, company secrets, and sensitive data.

As many companies have been forced to allow employees to work from home, it is more important than ever to make sure your business is protected from cybercrime. 

What Constitutes Cybercrime?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, cybercrime is a variety of malicious actions that destroy or interfere with normal operations of a computer system or network. These actions include:

  • Computer trespass
  • Unauthorized access or access exceeding permission that was granted to a user
  • Hacking with the intention to alter, disable, or modify existing settings

To view all of the laws North Carolina has addressing hacking, unauthorized access, computer trespass, viruses, and malware, see N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 14-453 to 14-458

Penalties for Committing Cybercrimes

To be prosecuted for a computer crime, a defendant must willfully commit one of the prohibited offenses. In North Carolina, cybercrimes can be classified from Class 1 Misdemeanors to Class H Felonies, which means the defendant can face anywhere from 120 days to 25 months in prison.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

How Do I Protect My Business?

It is important to first keep your business’s affairs in order. Our Spring Cleaning for Businesses checklist can help you understand what items you should revisit.

Protecting your Company Secrets

First, look at your employees. Non-disclosure agreements are contracts between an employer and employee that outlines confidential material, knowledge, and information that the employer does not want their employees to share with third parties. If you, the business owner, do not want trade secrets or sensitive information to be shared with third parties or made public, ensuring that each employee signs a legally binding non-disclosure agreement is vital.

Because non-disclosure agreements need to contain specific information in order to be valid, reach out to an experienced employment law attorney to help you draft the document. If an employee violates this agreement, you will also need cousel to decide how to move forward with enforcing the agreement.

Cyber Security

A non-disclosure won’t protect you from cybercriminals that do not work at your company, however. That is why it is crucial to have a cybersecurity strategy that protects your business, your customers, and your information. To get started, check out these 10 steps to take to secure your business.

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