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Florida cybersecurity attorneyTo understand why you might need a cyber law attorney now or in the future, take a quick look back. Twenty years ago, were you worried about losing control of your intellectual property because of Etsy or Amazon, or of losing control of your website domain name to a web jacker?

Shift in Transactions From People to Web Impacts Cyberlaw

Have you noticed how many business transactions have shifted from being personal-relationship-driven to being mostly or entirely web-driven? Consider all of these situations where, 20 years ago, you would have insisted on doing business one-on-one, face-to-face, but today you can - and often prefer to - conduct most of this business over the internet:

  • Making a big-ticket purchase like a computer, car, or house;
  • Working with a tax accountant, financial advisor, lender, or lawyer; and
  • Working with a writer, graphic designer, or another provider of marketing or creative services.

Shift in Documentation from Paper to Digital Requires Cyberlaw

Years back, most businesses relied on an exchange of paper documents. While paper documents could be photocopied, they could not be widely disseminated without significant cost and typically did not travel far. Today, we rely much more heavily on electronic document exchanges, and it is far too easy for such documents to be intercepted by hackers, copied, slightly altered, and widely disseminated around the globe very quickly.

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St. Petersburg online contracts attorneyIf you are refreshing your business’s existing website or building a new one, where will you spend most of your time? Optimizing your home page? Making sure all of your product and service offerings are described to best advantage? Streamlining your check-out process to maximize e-commerce sales? 

In the process of perfecting your website, there is one page you might easily overlook: your Terms of Service, or TOS, agreement (sometimes called the website’s Terms of Use or User Agreement). You should know that a well-written Terms of Service agreement could actually prove as important to your business as any other page of your website.

What Is the Purpose of a Terms of Service Agreement?

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Tampa cyber law attorney cyber attack damagesCyber threats are a serious and growing risk for American and global businesses. A 2017 study by the Ponemon Institute and Accenture, based on data from over 250 large companies across seven countries, reported an average of 130 security breaches per company in 2017, a 27% increase over the prior year. Ransomware attacks are a particular concern, and the reported frequency of these attacks doubled from 2016 to 2017.

Computer system hackers may be aiming to steal trade secrets, obtain personal data that can be used for identity theft, or simply cause trouble for a business out of spite. Whatever the motive, any type of security breach can cost a business thousands or even millions of dollars in system repair costs and loss of revenue.

Cyber Damages Claims Under Federal and Florida State Law

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Tampa master services agreement attorneyWhenever two businesses expect to have an ongoing relationship, with one providing services to the other on a project-by-project basis, a master services agreement can simplify their repeated transactions.

Many types of businesses can benefit from using a master services agreement, including those who sell website creation and maintenance services, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and cloud computing services. 

But what exactly should be included in your MSA? Here are some tips for creating a strong MSA for your business:

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Florida cyber law attorney master services agreementAre you tired of jumping through legal approval hoops every time you start a new project with an existing client? Then your business probably needs a master services agreement (MSA). 

A master services agreement is a contract that spells out the general terms and conditions that will govern the relationship between two parties (supplier and buyer). Then, for each new project, the parties need only sign off on a statement of work (SOW), which defines the specific work to be done, the price to be paid, and the timeline of the project. 

The Benefits of Having a Master Services Agreement

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_319177193.jpgMany businesses rely on relationships with outside agencies or individuals to ensure ongoing productivity and profitability. Creating and implementing third party reseller agreements ensure distribution of your products or services are done in manner that upholds your company’s brand image and reputation. However, while researching and drafting these agreements, it is important to consider variables that might create confusion or poor results.

Consider These Relevant Issues

  • Start small and grow gradually: When opening a new agreement allow a distributor to prove themselves on a small scale. Once doing so you can reward that distributor with a larger piece of territory. Do not assign too much, too soon.
  • Reasons for Termination: If an agreement allows only for Termination for Cause, it can delay action while partners argue the definition of “cause.” Termination for Convenience and for Cause enables a company to take steps to nullify a relationship while following defined and prescribed steps.
  • Writing semi-automatic renewal and annual termination terms into an agreement allows either party to exit an agreement once a year. This bases a partnership on performance, and the most experienced partners desire an ongoing relationship that is based on performance.
  • Exclusive vs Non Exclusive agreements: There are pros and cons to both, but find a way to maintain an advantage while allowing for some flexibility that appeals to the distributor.
  • Address issues of price changes: An agreement that permits price changes based on market demand, and only a period of advance notice can help resolve conflicts over this issue.
  • Termination of the agreement by one or both parties: The best distributor agreements allow for either partner to end the relationship.
  • Allow the nature of the relationship to change: Variables in the marketplace can impact how both a manufacturer and a distributor do business. Write an agreement that permits both parties to recommend change on an ongoing basis allows the partnership to evolve with the market without undue pressure.
  • Stay involved in the process: Attorneys are important to writing fair and legal agreements, but the input of those with practical experience can help keep matters relevant and on point.

Retain an Experienced Florida Online Contracts Attorney to Install Sound Reseller Agreements

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St. Petersburg cyber law attorney cyber crime legislationWhen the digital age took hold in America, and an increasing number of businesses began conducting trade online, it became necessary to protect commerce, transactions, and other online activity from illegal access and fraud. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is a federal anti-hacking law that was passed in 1986, and is now the subject of updates in order to keep up with the constantly evolving digital world.

Why the CFAA Needs Updating

In its current form, the CFAA does not allow a business to go beyond its own network to fight or protect against cyber attacks, such as the installation of malware. While the CFAA was expanded upon in 1996, proponents of this newest legislation do not believe the existing language goes far enough in allowing businesses to protect their digital property.

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Florida cyber security attorney data breachWhen credit reporting giant Equifax announced that millions of consumer records were exposed to hackers by means of a data breach, it was just the latest in the series of recent commercial cyber attacks which have impacted millions of people. Perhaps the primary takeaway from this news is that if this type of breach can happen to a company as large as Equifax, it can happen to any company that maintains digital business and client records.

How Can a Business Protect Company and Client Data?

By most accounts, the breach at Equifax was due to complacency in addressing a software flaw in the company’s website involving a tool which consumers used to contact the company and address issues with their credit reports. Every company should be aware that hackers will seek to expose any flaw in your company’s software or website protocol.

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Posted on in Intellectual Property

cyber law, Florida cyber law attorney, Cloud usage, intellectual property, Cloud servicesThe use of computers by companies doing business in a variety of industries started years ago, and continues to grow. However, with that growth came the need to to use valuable office space for servers and data storage equipment. Now companies are migrating digital information to virtual storage known as “the Cloud,” which frees up physical space, but comes with some risks.

Benefits of Cloud Usage

It stands to reason that Cloud storage usage would not be popular among companies if it did not offer valuable benefits. In addition to reducing or eliminating the need for on-site data storage, other advantages of Cloud usage include the following:

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Posted on in Cyber Crime

b2ap3_thumbnail_domain-name-dispute.jpgJust as one’s company name and logo are vigorously protected against misuse and infringement, a business must remain equally vigilant to ensure its online identity is not stolen. Speedy resolution of Internet domain disputes allows a business to continue its e-commerce efforts while cracking down on those who might try to benefit from unscrupulous or even illegal use of a company’s domain.

Obtain a Strong Domain Name

Perhaps the best way to avoid domain disputes altogether would be to obtain, properly register, and monitor with vigilance your domain and online presence. This was considered much easier when the Internet hosted only generic top-level domains such as .com and country codes, but with the introduction of .net, .org, .info, and other domain names, monitoring domain names requires a renewed effort. Here are some steps for finding and establishing a strong domain name:

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