What does a cybercrime lawyer do?

A cybercrime lawyer aids in the prosecution of cybercrimes and interpretation of cybersecurity laws for their clients
What does a cybercrime lawyer do?

In this technological age, more people tend to rely on information technology and online networks for their operations. With this comes the emergence of cybercrimes and the Canadian laws combatting such crimes. For this matter, cybercrime lawyers are here to aid individuals, corporations, and other entities who are victims (and defendants) in a cybercrime case. 

What does a cybercrime lawyer do? 

Cybercrime lawyers – who are also called computer and IT lawyers – can guide clients:  

  • in protecting their data and systems against cybercrimes 
  • in prosecuting a case when they are a victim of cybercrimes 

A cybercrime lawyer can also aid those who are charged with a cybercrime case. 

Assistance with Canadian laws on cybersecurity 

A cybercrime lawyer can guide clients on the appropriate cybersecurity systems they may need according to law. 

For example, a cybercrime lawyer advises clients on how to protect intellectual property, as this can be a target of cybercrime. 

In the same manner, a cybercrime lawyer can guide their clients on cybersecurity laws. This way, clients themselves do not commit any of the prohibited acts amounting to cybercrime. 

Read more about cybersecurity law of Canada, such as the different statutes governing cybersecurity and how it protects consumers and businesses alike.

Filing a case in court 

When a person or an institution is a victim of a cybercrime, a cybercrime lawyer is called to prosecute the persons who have committed such crimes.  

With their knowledge on court procedures and Canadian laws on cybercrimes, a cybercrime lawyer can fully advance and protect the rights and interest of their client in court. 

A cybercrime lawyer can also help their clients prepare evidence to present in court. If the evidence is strong enough, it can persuade the court to rule in favor of their client. 

Watch this video for recent cases of cyberattacks in Canada: 

To know more about protecting yourself or your business against cyberattacks, contact a lawyer in your area. If you’re in Montréal, for example, get in touch with any Lexpert-Ranked computer & IT lawyer in Québec. 

What are Canada’s laws on cybercrime? 

Cybercrime is the general term used for criminal activities committed through the use of technology (e.g., a computer, a computer network, or the internet).  

Since most countries define the nature of cybercrime as criminal in nature, its penalties may include imprisonment. This is aside from the civil liabilities awarded to private persons who were victims of cybercrimes. 

Criminal Code 

In Canada, cybercrime is covered in the Criminal Code. Under the Code, the different types of cybercrime include: 

  • Hacking, including the possession of hacking devices, phishing scams, and use of malware 
  • Denial-of-service attacks 
  • Identity theft 
  • Identity fraud 
  • Cyberterrorism 

When filing a criminal case for any of these offenses, consulting with a cybercrime lawyer is the first step.  

Here’s an overview of these cybercrimes: 

1. Hacking 

Hacking is the unauthorized access of digital files (e.g., private data, personal information), private communication, and systems. 

Under the Criminal Code, hacking may be committed through: 

  • Interception of communications: intercepting a private communication using any electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical, or any other device (section 184) 
  • Unauthorized use of computer: the direct or indirect obtaining of any computer service or interception of any function of a computer system (section 342.1) 
  • Fraud: defrauding the public or any person of their property, money or valuable security or any service (section 380 (1)) 
  • Mischief: the willful destruction or alteration of computer data or interfering with the lawful use of computer data (section 430 (1.1) (a) and (b)) 

An example of these fraudulent or mischievous activities includes phishing scams, and the infection of IT systems with malware, spyware, and other computer viruses. 

Hacking also includes the prohibition on the possession of hacking devices: 

  • Possession of hacking device: the creation, possession, sale, importation, or distribution of hacking devices without any lawful excuse (section 342.2 (1)). 

Under the Criminal Code, a hacking device pertains to: 

  • Hardware: a component of a hacking device; or 
  • Software: a computer program or computer data (section 342.2 (4)). 

2. Denial-of-Service Attacks (section 430 (1.1) (c) and (d)) 

In relation to committing mischief, a denial-of-service attack is committed by: 

  • obstructing, interrupting, or interfering with the lawful use of computer data  
  • denying access to a person who is entitled to the computer data’s access 

3. Identity Theft (section 402.2 (1)) 

Under the Criminal Code, identity theft is committed when a person obtains or possesses another person’s identity information.  

This identity information can be biological or physiological information to identify an individual, which can be used alone or in a combination of this information. 

Identity theft occurs when identity information is used to commit any of these crimes as defined in the Criminal Code: 

  • Forgery, including the forgery or use of a forged passport 
  • Fraudulent use of certificate of citizenship 
  • Impersonating a peace officer 
  • Perjury 
  • Theft and forgery of a credit card 
  • Making false pretenses or false statements 
  • Use, trafficking, or possession of forged documents 
  • Fraud 
  • Identity fraud 

4. Identity Fraud (section 403) 

As distinguished from identity theft, identity fraud is impersonating a living or dead person to commit any of these acts: 

  • to gain advantage for themselves or for another person 
  • to obtain any property or an interest in any property of the living or dead person 
  • to cause any disadvantage, either to the person being impersonated or to another person 
  • to avoid arrest or prosecution 

5. Cyberterrorism 

The Criminal Code has provisions on participating or contributing to the activities of a terrorist group. This participation and contribution, when committed using computers, computer networks, and other technologies, will constitute cyberterrorism. 

Other Canadian laws on cybercrime 

In addition to the Criminal Code, there are other laws in Canada which provides for prohibited activities that may be considered as cybercrimes: 

  • Copyright Act (section 41.1 (1)): circumventing a “technological protection measure” to commit electronic theft of a copyrighted work, including the sale, manufacturing, and importation of these technologies that can be used to commit electronic theft. 
  • Security of Information Act (section 19): obtaining and communicating a trade secret to other persons to the detriment of Canada’s national defense or national security, including its alteration or destruction. 
  • Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL): the non-consensual 
    • sending of the commercial electronic messages (section 6 (1))  
    • altering of transmission data in an electronic message (section 7 (1))  
    • installation of a computer program or the sending of an electronic message from the installed computer system (section 8 (1)) 

To contact a cybercrime lawyer, here’s a list of the best computer and IT lawyers in Canada as ranked by Lexpert.