Computer Hacking and Criminal Law

Computer hacking generates a lot of controversy these days. Hacking involves the use of computer skills to penetrate a network or a computer mostly to obtain protected and sensitive information. Computer hackers are generally of two types – white hat hackers and black hat hackers. White hat hackers use their computer skills for constructive purposes while black hat hackers use their skills for nefarious activities. To prosecute black hat hackers, different countries have put in place special IT law provisions. Black hat hackers use a variety of tools to breach security systems and obtain sensitive information. These hackers generally use viruses, Trojans, spyware, worms, phishing, sniffers and adware to break into secure systems and defraud both individuals and businesses. As more and more information now is being stored in computers, the legal ramifications of hacking are becoming more serious. With people across the world leading such active online lives, it’s becoming easier for hackers to obtain personal information on just about anyone. Although, the government spends a huge amount of its resources to pursue and prosecute computer hackers, there seems to be no respite from the problems Black hat hackers pose. Even a more stringent IT law isn’t helping the cause. Computer hackers can be convicted if they intentionally access a computer without approval and obtain information that has been determined by the government to require protection for reasons of national security or foreign relations. Hackers can also be prosecuted if they deliberately deliver, communicate or transmit any sensitive data to a person other than the rightful owner. Furthermore, computer hackers can be punished under the IT law if they try to extract information from any non-public computer, information contained in a financial record of any financial institution or deliberately try to obtain information with the intention of fraud. Black hat hackers are punished in different ways depending on the severity of the crime. Notorious computer hackers causing huge damages can face imprisonment of twenty or more years. Small time hackers can be fined for their offences and let off with warnings, especially if they are minors. White hat hackers on the other hand help counter black hat hackers. They generally help government agencies or large financial institutions find loopholes in their networks that can prevent cyber attacks. White hat hackers are also called penetration testers or ethical hackers. Such hackers use various tools such as LOIC or Low Orbit Ion Cannon to find vulnerabilities in a network. These tools help white hat hackers gain access to unrestricted areas by evading security. In this technological age, it has become very important to enact specialized laws to convict black hat hackers. Cyber crimes such as identity thefts, phishing and DDoS attacks are becoming rampant. Websites are being bought down by hackers and numerous cases of identity thefts are reported frequently. Of greater concern is the fact that terrorists can use hacking as an option for cyber warfare. A rigorous, strict IT law that penalizes black hat hackers more stringently is necessary to control the menace.