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INTERNET LAW 2013 – Computer Hacking

Computer hacking is a cybercrime that transcends boundaries; therefore, an international legal solution is to come. The DNSChanger virus is an example of this global threat. The DNSChanger virus is supposed to affect over 4 million computers worldwide on July 9, 2012. The FBI (The United States Federal Bureau of Intelligence) protected computers from this virus for over six months until July 9, 2012, when the FBI safety net built to protect users will shut down. The FBI and other authorities arrested the cybercriminals and they will probably be charged under the U.S. anti-hacking laws and the long-arm jurisdictional tentacles of the Patriot Act; but, is the U.S. to become the world’s cyber-police? What the international community is doing to face this new century threat?

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Computer hacking is a cybercrime that transcends boundaries; therefore, an international legal solution is to come. The DNSChanger virus is an example of this global threat. The DNSChanger virus is supposed to affect over 4 million computers worldwide on July 9, 2012.  The FBI (The United States Federal Bureau of Intelligence) protected computers from this virus for over six months until July 9, 2012, when the FBI safety net built to protect users will shut down. The FBI and other authorities arrested the cybercriminals and they will probably be charged under the U.S. anti-hacking laws and the long-arm jurisdictional tentacles of the Patriot Act; but, is the U.S. to become the world’s cyber-police? What the international community is doing to face this new century threat?

 

Hackers created the DNSChanger virus to profit from Internet advertisement. The virus affects users” ability to access the DNS system, which is the Internet directory, by redirecting them to fake DNS servers that in turn re-directed users to fake websites that contained the online advertisement. The hackers behind this virus are from Eastern Europe, about half of them arrested in Estonia. Although no details on how these cybercriminals will be prosecuted, legal issues such as applicable law and jurisdiction, among others, arise.     

 

There is no international anti-hacking treaty yet. Regional and domestic initiatives are the only current legal tools against computer hacking.  For instance, the United States enacted federal laws such as the Patriot Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA); also, states have legislated against computer hacking. Computer hacking is a federal offense and is heavily regulated and prosecuted in the United States. Yet, other countries, particularly developing countries, although having enacted anti-hacking laws, have not actively prosecuted these cybercrimes. The European Union adopted the Convention on Cybercrime, also known as the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime, to address the problem of computer and other Internet crimes. It was signed in 2001, but entered into force on July 1, 2004.  The Budapest Convention’s goal was to harmonize European national laws and improve investigative and prosecutorial techniques to face cybercrimes. Canada, China, Japan, and the United States are also participants to this convention.  Most of the European member states have signed and ratified the Budapest Convention; yet, some countries have not ratified this convention such as Andorra, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Poland, Russia, San Marino, Sweden, and Turkey. Although the Budapest Convention is an excellent and the major international legal tool against cybercrime, it still does not have global application.

 

The international community is in need of a global solution for the computer hacking problem that tends to grow by the minute. The United States and European countries cannot be the only ones attacking this worldwide crisis.  Governments, educational institutions, and the private sector, to name just a few, depend on computers.  Cybercriminals may shut down the world with the click of a bottom….and what could we then do? So, it is imperative that an international coalition against computer hacking is formed and that a global treaty is enacted to harmonize domestic anti-hacking laws and protect the citizen of the world!

 

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