I’ve been amazed at some of the sentences received by convicted computer hackers. It seems there’s no standard across the courts of the world for sentences dealing with computer hacking and fraud. The following is a sample of cybercrimes and sentences posed in courts across the globe. You’ll notice that there is seemingly not much difference between the severity of sentence for a minor Facebook account hack and a multi-million dollar Zeus botnet banking hack.
Breach (hack) of Credit Card Processor (Heartland)
Hacking star’s Facebook acct.
Hacking into neighbor’s wireless network and framing them for illegal acts
Hacked Facebook servers
Bank Fraud (Zeus Botnet: $3Million stolen)
Credit card fraud (RBS Worldplay: $9 million)
5 Years (suspended)
Credit card fraud ($40 million and .5 million credit card numbers stolen)
10 Years and $100,000 fine
Hacking into hospital computers, denial of service attack
Hacked Internet phone networks for $1.4 million in services
10 Years and $1 million in restitution
Hacking and Identity Theft ($36 million in losses)
10 Years and $100,000 fine
Hacking into NASA computers
16 Months (suspended) and pay $240,000 in damages
I’m not a lawyer, and certainly not a judge; however, it seems to me that the sentences being given to hackers are all over the place in terms of length of incarceration and fines. I suppose the explanation lies in more than one reason. The first seems to be one of geography. It appears that sentences in eastern Europe are much lighter than in western countries. This may be related to the fact that those countries harbor large and powerful cybercrime organizations. Another of the reasons for the sentences we see is that the courts are still techno-phobic and don’t understand the severity and breadth of the hacker crimes and therefore sentence according to how sensational the media reports the crimes. If this is true, I suspect that it will all work out as judges become more comfortable with the Internet and technology in general. I say this because the law enforcement community went through the same “growing pains” a few years ago. They are much improved now. They are on the offensive rather than defensive and have become well armed to police cybercrime in at least the federal levels of the modern countries across the world. The US FBI, for instance, has a cybercrime unit in each of their local offices who are well educated and capable.
The situation with control of cybercrime isn’t where it should be, but at least we’re prosecuting and convicting some of the crooks and we’re improving how we deal with them. What do you think?
As always, I appreciate your comments on this subject…so please do. And be careful out there…it’s extremely dangerous these days.
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Home computing is a blast…keep it safe, productive and enjoyable.