FBI cracks down on cyber crimes
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is cracking down on cyber crimes. The bureau’s assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch recently announced that cyber criminals would be held accountable for their actions and that the agency was gearing up to take a “much more offensive side” in its cyber program.
It is no surprise that the FBI is putting forward a strong effort to catch those who commit cyber crimes and deter future violations. Cyber crimes appear to be on the rise, with Wired magazine calling these offenses the “next entrepreneurial growth business.” In fact, the magazine reports that cyber crimes are estimated to cost the global economy over $400 billion every year. However, a strong push to prosecute those who violate these laws will likely lead to false accusations.
Cyber crime: The basics.
Cyber crimes are offenses that are committed using the internet or some form of computer technology. These offenses can take on a variety of forms, generally broken down into three broad categories:
- Computers. This refers to attacks against a computer’s hardware or software. Examples include network intrusions, malware, worms and viruses.
- Finances. These crimes focus on monetary gain, generally in the form of fraud and phishing.
- Abuse. Cyber crimes can also take the form of sexual abuse, particularly of children.
Those who are charged with these crimes should also understand that, depending on the details, federal law can apply. This is particularly true in instances that involve interstate commerce.
Cyber crime: The law.
In an effort to help fill in the gaps in federal law, Congress enacted the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) in 1986. This law outlaws a number of cyber crimes including hacking, use of worms, computer viruses and other cyber attacks, using a computer to commit fraud and the trafficking of passwords. This law makes it illegal to access another’s computer systems or accounts without authorization.
Although laws regarding cyber crimes will vary, most include a requisite mental state to convict an individual of a cyber crime. Generally this consists of establishing that the accused knowingly and willfully participated in the offense that led to the charges. As a result, common defenses to these charges can include that authorization was given or that the person accused of the crime lacked the element of knowledge or willfulness required for the offense.
Cyber crime: Importance of legal counsel.
These are just a few of the defenses that can be available to fight these accusations. Those who are charged with these crimes are wise to take the charges seriously. Convictions can lead to hefty monetary penalties and imprisonment. Those facing these charges should seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. This legal professional will review your case and help build a defense that could lead to a reduction of potential penalties or, in some cases, dismissal of charges.