Criminal computer hacking is any act committed by a person with detailed knowledge of computers who uses this information to accomplish acts of terrorism, vandalism, credit and debt card fraud, identity theft, intellectual property theft, and other forms of computer-related crimes. Computer hacking always involves some type of infringement on the privacy of others or some type of damage to computer-based property. Computer hacking can be done for numerous reasons, including the commission of fraudulent acts intended to secure financial gain at the expense of businesses or consumers.
Computer hacking that is done for the purpose of committing financial fraud is a white collar crime that is taken very seriously in the United States. Federal law defines computer hacking as intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorization in order to access restricted information. Restricted information can include a myriad of things including: financial records of an individual or institution, personal information about an individual or organization, any government information or intelligence communication, and the like.
There are a number of "tools of the trade" that are repeatedly used to carry out computer hacking. A Trojan horse, for example, is a computer hacking tool that appears to be a legitimate program, when it is actually not. This may be a back door created by a hacker to access protected information later or may be a program designed to fool a user into downloading a virus or the like. A Sniffer is an application used in computer hacking to capture passwords in transit. Viruses and worms may also be used to commit computer hacking. The internet is one of the most common tools used to commit computer hacking.
There have been some famous computer hacking cases that have received widespread attention in the last decade. One of the most notable computer hacking schemes was carried out by David Smith who launched the Melissa Virus in March of 1999. This virus spread to approximately 1.2 million computers and caused $80 million in financial losses to businesses throughout the United States and Europe. Mr. Smith was convicted of criminal computer hacking and sentenced to forty years in prison. He was later released after 20 months of incarceration after agreeing to go undercover for the FBI.
There exists a perpetual arms race between criminal computer hackers and legitimate computer software engineers, businesses, and other organizations; both groups struggle to excel above the other technologically. Billions of dollars are spent annually to protect businesses from computer hacking. Both big business and the government acknowledge that computer hacking is a serious problem. In 2001 alone, 85 percent of companies reported security breeches in their systems and 94 percent reported system viruses.
The battle to stop computer hacking is a formidable feat that will be addressed on many levels for years to come. If you have been the victim of fraud or any other type of financial crime which may be related to computer hacking or internet fraud, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced attorney.
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