Possible Life Sentence for Cyber Criminals

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British law makers are considering moving the upper limit for serious hacking offences to “14 years and life imprisonment”. Can the law ever appropriately combat the ever evolving field of cybercrime?

Currently hackers convicted in the UK can serve a maximum sentence of five years, as detailed in the Computer Misuse Act 1990. That’s 24 years old! Can you remember what, if any, computer you were using back in 1990? Now compare it to what you are using today. Yeah, pretty outdated.

I asked Mark James, ESET security specialist, for his thoughts on the increased sentence and about the law in general in regard to cybercrime.

Are law makers starting to take cybercrime more seriously?

“It’s being forced that way, with cybercrime being more and more prominent and wave after wave of personal data being uploaded and found on the internet the public are looking for more action to be taken when these perpetrators are caught, often jargon, jurisdiction and actual physical evidence will cause many failures to prosecute, the public deserve to be protected and more needs to be done to ensure this is the case, I think on the whole it is definitely being taken more serious now.”

Should the law for cyber-theft, for example, be as serious as real theft?

”Theft is theft, if its proven beyond doubt that you have stolen something either online or from a department store then you should be prosecuted and punished, the tools used should not be considered, it makes no difference whether a Trojan or crow bar was used to steal your credit card, it can still be used to purchase something you’re entitled to have. “

Can the law possibly evolve as fast as crybercrime?

“No way, cybercrime is constantly evolving and keeping up with all the new techniques of software and hardware based attacks is almost impossible to do, it’s a close race but second place is the best we can ever hope for.”

Will they always be one step behind?

Yes, the very nature of cybercrime enforces reactive counter measures.

Will we see laws concerning online piracy or cyber-bullying receiving higher sentences?

I hope we do, it’s important that the public feel they can be protected and the only way to do this is successful prosecutions and criminals being accountable for their actions and being sentenced accordingly.