There are several types of computer crimes, but some of the most high-profile examples involve hacking. With data breaches increasingly becoming daily occurrences, hackers have affected everything from the economical (including numerous retail businesses) to the political by invading every aspect of our lives. However, hacking doesn’t always rise to the level of a crime. Because of the varying degrees of hacking and its increasing prevalence in our society, it’s important to understand where the lines are drawn. Hacking is broadly defined as the act of breaking into a computer system. Hacking isn’t always a crime as “ethical hacking” occurs when a hacker is legally permitted to exploit security networks. In other words, it’s when a hacker has the appropriate consent or authorization. However, hacking crosses the criminal line when a hacker accesses someone’s computer system without such consent or authority. For instance, if an individual acts without consent or any lawful authorization (i.e. from law enforcement agency and/or a court order) and penetrates a business’ firewall to access private servers and cloud storage systems or uses phishing to install malware to desktop and laptop computers with the intent to monitor communications and activities, they can be charged with a crime.
Federal Hacking Laws
There are several federal laws that address hacking, including:
• The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA);
• The Stored Communications Act (SCA);
• The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA); and
• The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is the leading federal anti-hacking legislation that prohibits unauthorized access to another’s computer system. Although the law was originally meant to protect the computer systems of U.S. government entities and financial institutions, the scope of the Act expanded with amendments to include practically any computer in the country (including devices such as servers, desktops, laptops, cellphones, and tablets).
Criminal Penalties Under the CFAA
• Obtaining National Security Information : 10 years; 20 years maximum for a second conviction.
• Accessing a Computer to Defraud and Obtain Value: 5 years; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.
• Accessing a Computer and Obtaining Information: 1-5 years; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.
• Intentionally Damaging by Knowing Transmission: 1-10 years; 20 years maximum for a second conviction.
• Extortion Involving Computers: 5 years; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.
• Trafficking in Passwords: 1 year; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.
Civil Violations Under the CFAA
Although the CFAA’s penalties are mostly for criminal violations, the 1994 amendment expanded the Act to include causes of action for civil suits, in addition to criminal prosecution.
Civil violations include the following:
• Obtaining information from a computer through unauthorized access;
• Trafficking in a computer password that can be used to access a computer;
• Transmitting spam; and
• Damaging computer data.
Federal anti-hacking legislation provides civil remedies for hacking victims, including the following:
• Injunctive relief;
• Seizure of property; and
• Impounding of the stolen information and the electronic devices used to carry out the invasion.
Other Federal Hacking Laws
The Stored Communications Act mirrors the prohibitions of the CFAA and protects stored electronic communications and data or data at rest (including email, texts, instant messages, social media accounts, cloud computing and storage, and blogs/microblogs). There is a lot of overlap with the CFAA and often hackers will be in violation of both statutes. The EPCA, a counterpart law to the SCA forbids intentional interception of electronic communications in transit or “data in motion,” rather than “data at rest.”
Hacking Laws: State Laws
Although much of the focus is on federal laws, states have enacted hacking laws as well. While every state has computer crime laws, some states address hacking more specifically with laws that prohibit unauthorized access, computer trespass, and the use of viruses and malware.
Hacking Laws and Punishments with an Attorney
Laws at both the federal and state level provide both protections and limitations concerning hacking. If you’re charged with a hacking offense and are concerned about how hacking laws and punishments apply to your situation, you should turn to an attorney who understands the complexity of the law. Contact a skilled criminal defense attorney near you today for help with this serious matter.
What are some Examples of Cyber Crime?
Cyber crimes can be criminal transactions as well as intrusions or breaches of privacy. Cyber crimes can also disrupt normal access to the internet. Some examples of cyber crimes include:
• Cyberbullying: This is the sending or posting hateful and/or hurtful messages or images about someone. Cyberbullying is a crime that is prevalent amongst younger generations. Teen and college-aged students are often the targets of cyberbullies via social media;
• Cyberterrorism: This is used to create fear and sometimes incite violence. Often cyberterrorism places lives in jeopardy. For instance, if a hacker alters the medical records of patients at a hospital it could have devastating and deadly consequences;
• Distribution of child pornography: Child pornography is a tragic, global problem. As with many of the other cyber crimes, it is difficult to track down the cyber criminal child pornography source due to the criminal’s ability to remain anonymous on the internet;
• Identity theft: This can occur when someone steals another’s personal information typically for their own financial gain. Identity theft is often achieved through a phishing scheme to illegally get access to unsuspecting victims’ bank accounts or credit cards;
• Money laundering: This happens when criminals “move” money that was obtained from criminal activities around electronically to different businesses and bank accounts. Often, the bank accounts and businesses where the money is being transferred to are legitimate. The criminals goal is to hide the fact that the money was obtained illegally and thus make it appear “clean” or “laundered.”
• Ransom ware: This is malicious software installed by hackers typically targeting individuals; however larger groups such as hospitals, private companies, local governments, universities or other schools are not immune. The ransomware prevents users from accessing sensitive records and information until a “ransom” or payoff is made to the cyber criminal.
How can I Protect Myself from Cyber Crime/Site Hack?
While there is no full-proof protection against cyber crimes/site Hack, there are many steps individuals, businesses, organizations and governments can take to help avoid becoming a target of such criminal activity.
Steps you can take against cyber crime or site hack include:
• Use up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer;
• Install spyware on your computer;
• Do not download attachments from unknown sources;
• Monitor children while using technology;
• Install parental control software on your computer;
• Never share personal information online, such as your Social Security number, bank account number, etc. online; and
• Avoid questionable websites.
Cyber Crime/Site hack Punishments
State laws vary on the punishments imposed against cyber criminals or site hackers. Depending on the particulars of the crime and the state involved, the weight of the offense can shift from a misdemeanor to a felony. Monetary fines, jail time and probation are all possibilities if convicted of a cyber crime. Often times, with cyber crimes, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also involved in the investigation and prosecution. Typically, this is because in dealing with internet crimes, while state lines may not be physically crossed more than one state is involved and thus makes it a federal matter. Also, the FBI is the lead investigating group against terrorism. So, if the cyber attack deals with terrorism, the FBI is involved with the case. Federal penalties can often be more severe than state penalties.
Possible criminal defenses to cyber crime include:
• Actual authorization: the defendant may have had permission by the authorizing party to access the records or data that potentially were corrupted, damaged or hacked;
• Duress or coercion: the defendant may have been tricked or forced into cooperating with the online scheme; and
• Knowledge: this may be a key component to prosecuting a cyber criminal. Depending on the crime and the individual’s involvement, it is possible that a defendant did not have the knowledge that they were participating in an online criminal activity.
Should I Speak with a Cyber Crime Lawyer/Site Hack Lawyer?
Yes. You should. Whether you are a victim of a cyber crime or you have been accused of a cyber crime or site Hack, it is imperative to speak to a Lawyer that has the knowledge and experience to assist you. Cyber crimes are vast, complex and ever-evolving. These crimes may involve both state and federal rules, regulations, laws and punishments.
What Are Things That A Hacker Can Do To Me?
While your computer is connected to the Internet, the malware a hacker has installed on your PC quietly transmits your personal and financial information without your knowledge or consent. Or, a computer predator may pounce on the private information you unwittingly revealed. In either case, they will be able to:
• Hijack your usernames and passwords
• Steal your money and open credit card and bank accounts in your name
• Ruin your credit
• Request new account Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or additional credit cards
• Make purchases
• Add themselves or an alias that they control as an authorized user so it’s easier to use your credit
• Obtain cash advances
Some of the ways an attorney may be able to help you includes:
• Contacting uncooperative creditors, credit bureaus, or debt collectors and dealing with them directly
• Determining the appropriate legal action to take against uncooperative creditors, credit bureaus, and debt collectors
• Helping you remove fraudulent information from your credit report
• Providing their legal expertise when handling difficult identity theft issues for you
• Offering their legal background and experience to easily navigate through the confusing legal system
• Staying up to date with current consumer protection laws that may affect the outcome of your case
• Helping you protect your valuable financial information
• Helping you get your finances in order
• Explaining your legal options
What Kinds of Cases Do Site Hack Attorneys Handle?
Some cases handled by Site Hack attorneys include the following:
• Cases where someone fraudulently uses your personal information, such as your Social Security Number, credit card or bank account number for financial gain or criminal purposes
• Cases where an identity thief gets arrested or gets cited for a traffic violation, and falsely provides your name and information to the police
• Cases where an identity thief deceptively files for bankruptcy under your name
• Identity theft associated with your taxes
• Cases where an identity thief incurs debt under your name and a lawsuit is filed against you for the thief’s debt
What is a Identity Fraud Reimbursement Program
An Identity Fraud Reimbursement Program is a financial product that provides protections for consumers against fees, expenses and financial penalties in the event of identity theft. An Identity Fraud Reimbursement Program provides consumers with a variety of protections in the event of identity theft. Sometimes referred to as identity theft insurance, these policies are offered both as stand-alone policies and as add-ons to other types of insurance policies such as homeowners insurance and car insurance. Some homeowners policies, for example, automatically offer some basic protections against theft of cash or credit cards, and offer an additional rider for increased identity theft protection for an extra fee. Identity fraud reimbursements can cover a variety of direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include reimbursement and restoration of stolen funds. Indirect costs include legal fees, lost wages, notary fees, postage and other expenses accrued in the wake of an incident of identity theft. In addition to reimbursement protections, identity theft protection programs also often provide information and services geared toward preventing identity theft and restoring compromised credit scores.
The Impact of Identity Theft and Identity Fraud Reimbursement Programs
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) classifies incidents of identity theft under one of three categories:
• Unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account.
• Unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account.
• Misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose.
Site Hack Attorney
When you need a site hack attorney, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506
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