What Laws Protect Us from Hackers?

Whether it is stealing your credit card information or planting a virus on your computer that will completely destroy it…

The effects on the victim of a hacker can be detrimental to their personal life, career, and even their finances.

While the internet is a vital part of our everyday lives, and is an incredibly invention and advancement in technology, it does not come without its risks – hackers being a main risk.

Through social media, online shopping, email, and various other avenues, much of your personal and financial information is spread all over the internet. And, some of the accessible information might be details you did not even know were out there.

Unfortunately, as a society well engulfed in the internet, hackers have become a major concern for most people:

Types of Hackers

By definition, a hacker is a skilled computer expert who uses their technical knowledge and expertise to use bugs or exploits to break into computer systems – typically stealing someone’s information.

Some hackers – known as grey hats – simply seek to be a troll and just annoy or exploit people while still maintaining their anonymity. While they might not necessarily be considered good or bad as they might not actually steal your information, grey hat hackers are typically associated with black hat hackers.

Other hackers – known as black hats – have malicious intentions to steal and sell data obtained from someone else’s device. Typically, black hats are motivated by some sort of personal gain.

Furthermore, a cracker is someone who uses hacking as a means of making profit or to gain some other criminal benefit. They often exploit system securities and then gain profit from selling the fix to the company themselves.

Dangers of Hackers

It is no secret that having your credit card information stolen – without your knowledge – could be a real issue, but what are the other dangers of hackers?

The various types of hackers can do a variety of different things:

Some hackers have the ability to write spyware and viruses which can be applied to your computer via several avenues, even something as simple as a spam link.

Meanwhile, other hackers use their skills to bypass security and break into the networks of banks and other large corporations, stealing their information, compromising their security, and even stealing the information of their clients.

Once hackers, such as these, gain access to valuable information, they can:

  • Download the company’s software on their own device
  • Change the network settings
  • Implant a virus or other spyware that will impair the device
  • Gain access to personal files and even private and corporate data

Unfortunately, the dangers from there are seemingly endless. Once they gain access, a hacker could even do something as detrimental as stealing your social security number, and furthermore, your identity.

Laws Protecting Us

While we are protected from most things thanks to Australian law, Chinese law, U.S. law, and all the other laws of other regions – laws against hackers are probably not something the average person is relatively familiar with.

Specifically, in the United States, in 1996 the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was amended significantly to ensure it applied adequately to the new area of computer crime. In many ways, the U.S. government and courts treat intellectual property found on computers the same as books, music and other intellectual property which involves creativity. Therefore, this information is protected under the First Amendment.

However, it does get tricky claiming that this property falls under freedom of speech when it is not an actual form of speech.

But, the court has ruled that it is illegal for anyone to distribute computer code if it is intended to cause damage or economic loss. Furthermore, the CFAA clearly prohibits the following:

  • Accessing a computer without authorization and transmitting classified government information
  • Theft of financial information
  • Computer fraud
  • Accessing a “protected computer”
  • Transmitting code that causes damage to a computer system
  • Trafficking in computer passwords for the purpose of affecting a government computer or interstate commerce
  • Computer extortion

In addition to the guidelines and laws in place by the CFAA, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) is also in place to protect computer users against hackers.

Signed into law in 1986, the ECPA protects users against the unlawful interception of any wire communication – including telephone or cell phone conversations, voicemails, email, and other data sent over the wires. Now, accessing any computer messages without authorization, whether it is in storage or in transit, is a federal crime.

The 18 U.S. Code Section 1030 covers the laws regarding most computer fraud and other related activities and crimes.

Consequences for Hackers

Thanks to the laws put in place to protect companies and computer users from hackers, if found guilty, rest assured there will be consequences for those who still choose to hack into devices and steal information.

Consequences for hackers can range from a series of fines to even years in jail. In addition, they will be out the money spent on an attorney and it is almost guaranteed that their reputation will be tainted in the eyes of the public.

For example, violations of the wiretap act can carry a sentence of five years in jail per violation. Or, a single act of wire fraud could land a hacker in jail for up to 20 years.

Wrapping It Up

While it might seem like it could never happen to you…

It can.

Hacking remains prevalent among our internet and they are always out lurking for their next victim.

By taking the necessary precautions, such as always creating strong and unlikely passwords, you can help protect yourself and your information from being compromised.

However, if you do still find yourself the victim of a hacker, take action. Theft is still illegal and your name should not have to suffer at the hands of a hacker.

Do you regularly have your computer checked for viruses?

Have you installed a trusted protection software?

Well, it might be time to start taking some of these precautions.