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Service-Denial-Attacks in the UK Now Attract Stricter Penalties

Under a new law in the UK, a jail sentence of up to ten years along with fines now awaits hackers carrying out service denial attacks. The Police and Justice Act came into law after receiving the royal signature in mid-November 2006. The Act modifies the 1990 Computer Misuse Act by making provision for harder penalties in respect of unauthorized hacking. The statutes of the 1990 Act relating to illegal alteration of computer content have been broadened to penalize a person who has carried out an unauthorized act concerning a computer while having requisite intent and requisite knowledge.

The legislation is couched in wider and more focused language. Anyone, who has the intent to damage the performance of any computer, bar or hamper access to any program or data contained in a computer, or adversely affect the execution of a program or put in question the reliability of data, is guilty of a criminal act.

Fears had been expressed previously that Britain's Computer Misuse Act, which dates from a period prior to the World Wide Web, permitted denial-of-service attacks to be carried out with impunity. In such attacks, a web or email server is maliciously inundated with information to the point of where it crashes. The earlier Act also had a controversial provision, relating to the creation and spread of hacking tools. The clause has been amended after experts raised concerns that IT security professionals operating legally could be targeted.

The 2006 Act also raises the sentence for breaking illegally into a computer. Offenders accessing computer material without permission face the prospect of a prison term of up to two years, or a fine or both. Unauthorized acts that aim to hamper the operation of a computer could attract a jail term of up to 10 years imprisonment, or a fine or both.

Furthermore, under the Police and Justice Act, the IT organization Pito will no longer be in place. Its duties will be carried out by the new National Policing Improvement Agency.

Related article: Service Renting out Fraudsters for Bank Data Theft Pulled Down

» SPAMfighter News - 11/18/2006

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