It’s about to get tougher for hackers and virus writers, or at least for those who get caught. TechNews.com reports that those convicted will soon will face significantly harsher penalties under new guidelines which focus on the harm caused. Hackers, for example, will face up to a 25 percent increase in their sentences if they hijack e-mail accounts or steal personal data — including financial and medical records and digital photographs. Convicted virus and worm authors face a 50 percent increase.
While this may be welcome to those who have suffered at the hands of such folk, there are worries. TechNews quotes Internet security experts as saying the number of computer-related prosecutions could rise as federal prosecutors try to tie them into otherwise unrelated crimes. The government reckons not: the piece quotes John G. Malcolm, the Justice Department’s computer crimes chief, as saying: “whether they’re drug dealers, embezzlers, hackers or software pirates… people who commit crimes use computers more than they used to.”