The ubiquity of computer systems and the internet all around the world has subsequently given rise to a series of problems associated with it. A variety of computer crimes have evolved, one of the most frequent being ‘hacking.’ Over the years, hackers have become very proficient and have vastly affected users in all aspects of life, ranging from economical to political and security.
Hacking is the process of breaking into a computer system. When this is done without the appropriate consent of the owner or any legal authorization, it is considered a crime. This usually happens when an individual infiltrates into a business’ or private user’s system deliberately in order to encrypt it or uses phishing to install malware in the server, usually with an intention to monitor and track the user’s activities. They infect computer programs with malicious programs such as Ransomware in an attempt to obliterate data. Ransomware removal requires a hefty ransom to be paid to unlock the user’s system. Such actions are strictly considered a crime.
However, at the same time, there is ‘ethical hacking’ as well which takes place when the hacker is legally permitted and has the authorization to access someone’s system. Hacking, thus, does not always reach the level of crime.
The staggering growth of cyber-crimes in recent years has made it a very lucrative business. It’s not just committed by individuals, but today, large criminal networks have been formed. Since it is easy for them to obscure their identity by hiding behind the screens, the fear of being caught and reprimanded is mitigated.
Hackers are therefore rarely caught and persecuted due to their anonymity. However, when they are caught, there are a series of stringent penalties established by law enforcement agencies.
Different levels of punishments are imposed on hackers depending on the degree of crime and the damage caused to the victim. In the US, for example, it ranges from Class B misdemeanors to class B felony and class D felony. Class B offense carries a punishment of up to 6 months in prison along with a probable fine of $1000, whereas Class B felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years of imprisonment along with a fine of $15000, while class D felony carries up to 5 years of imprisonment along with a fine up to $5000. The level of punishment, thus, depends on the intensity of the hacker’s actions.
The penalties imposed on hackers depend on the conditions the action takes place. As an example, if a person hacks a computer to obtain some personal or confidential information for certain purposes, it is regarded as identity theft and would be punished accordingly, depending on the value of information that is stolen as well as the victim’s age.
In other scenarios, a person might hack a computer with the intention of obtaining the owner’s files and information and claim it as their own, a concept known as Larceny. The penalties for this type of crime range from class C misdemeanor (this carries a punishment of up to 3 months in prison with a fine up to $500) to a class B felony. This penalty principally depends on the value of data that is acquired.
Even though cybercriminals are not easy to identify and arrest due to the astounding prevalence of hacking, neither are viruses like Ransomware removal easy. Security and law agencies are actively attempting to develop rigorous ways to tackle the problem and penalize the criminals in order to mitigate the ever-increasing crime.