Hacking into another person’s computer or network may be against the law depending on why you’re doing it. Hacking itself can be an excellent tool for determining the security level of a system, so sometimes hackers are hired legally. However, if you’re hacking into a system without permission, you could face serious penalties.
Computer hacking is covered under several federal laws. The laws that may apply to your case could include:
- The Defend Trade Secrets Act
- The Electronic Communications Privacy Act
- The Stored Communications Act
- The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
The criminal penalties that you could face for violating these acts will vary. For example, violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and obtaining national security information could lead to up to 10 years in prison upon a first-time conviction. Trafficking in passwords could lead to imprisonment for up to a year, while extortion crimes involving computers could be penalized with up to five years in prison.
Federally, those four laws protect people and businesses against computer crimes. Statewide, there are additional laws and mandates that may apply to your case.
Every state has its own computer crime laws, and those may penalize computer crimes as severely or even more severely as the federal government.
What can you do if you’re accused of a hacking crime?
The positive thing to remember about hacking charges and crimes is that it is relatively difficult to prove who was behind the attack. Even with an IP address on hand, it’s possible that someone else could have been using the computer in your home. If there is video of you on a computer in a public place, that might be harder to defend against, but the prosecution would still need to show that it was you who was hacking (with evidence from the hack).
A good defense could help you avoid serious penalties if you’re accused of computer crimes. Whether you’re facing state or federal charges, you should take them seriously and be prepared to fight back against the allegations. If you’re successful, you may be able to avoid years behind bars.