Hackers may face 20 years in jail if seen to threaten US national security

Filed Under: Data loss, Denial of Service, Law & order, Malware

Prison barsThe Obama administration has been lobbying congress to increase sentences for those who break into government computer networks, or potentially endanger the country's national security.

The request includes doubling the maximum prison sentence to 20 years behind bars, according to Reuters.

Talks on changes to the cybersecurity bill have being going on for over a year.

Recent high-profile attacks, including attacks on the CIA, the International Monetary Fund and military contractors serve to underpin the government's concern that its cyber laws may need updating to combat today's threat.

What complicates matters is that it's no easy task to track down skilled hackers, as they are intent on keeping their anonymity. They could be based anywhere on the globe, and using any number of third-party machines, with or without authorisation, to mask their true location and identity.

But there's another factor which requires consideration. Motive.

Does the US really want to spend huge amounts of resources to locate and identify a cyber prankster who wants his or her 15 minutes in the spotlight? No matter how disruptive it is to DDoS or pwn a site, should they be given the same focus as someone who is intent on threatening national security by stealing highly sensitive information?

It seems to me that there was a big difference between attacks like those perpetrated by hacktivists which brought down the CIA website, and serious organised infiltration of networks to steal confidential information.

The motivation for hacktivists may be to gain some kudos from their peers on the internet, or to show off to rival groups, or simply a case of being bored and committing a cybercrime "because they can".

But those hacktivists who expose firms' security weaknesses or embarrass companies for the "lulz" are not likely to be deterred by an increase in the criminal penalties. A better way to prevent them may be to make sure that your own networks and websites are in order where security is concerned.

Consider the current hacking mayhem as a wake up call. Don't sit back and wait for arrests to happen. If you are unsure as to the quality of your network's security, it is a pretty good time to review it. After all, it is not just your company info and reputation that is at risk, but potentially your customers, who trusted you to keep their information safe from harm.

, , , ,

You might like

2 Responses to Hackers may face 20 years in jail if seen to threaten US national security

  1. Micheal · 1031 days ago

    Not a huge deal, but here in the US, jail and prison are two different things. Typically, if someone has a sentence of over 12 months, they are sent to prison. Under 12 months, they are sent to jail. There are of course exceptions, but that's the general rule here in the US.

  2. Jim · 1031 days ago

    Ms. Theriault,

    "The motivation for hacktivists may be to gain some kudos from their peers on the internet, or to show off to rival groups, or simply a case of being bored and committing a cybercrime "because they can"."

    If "hacktivist" is a portmanteau of "hacker" and "activist", then it should mean a hacker for whom hacking is a means to further a cause, don't you think? If the goal isn't some form of activism, then the person is simply a "hacker".

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

About the author

Hi. I am a social, brand and communications expert with 10 years in senior roles in the tech space. I'm currently Sophos' s Global Director of Social Media and Communities. Proudest work achievement? Creating and launching award-winning Naked Security. Outside work, I am a mean cook, an avid reader, a chronic insomniac, a podcast obsessive and blogger .