Watch out internet criminals! Politicians in the European Parliament have agreed on increased penalties for a variety of computer-based crimes, including a three-year jail sentence for running botnets.
The European parliament has adopted a draft directive which outlines increased penalties for cyber crimes. Those found guilty of hijacking computers and running botnets should face a minimum of three years behind bars. In addition, the new directive would help European member states cooperate to investigate crimes and prosecute the offenders.
“The perpetrators of increasingly sophisticated attacks and the producers of related and malicious software can now be prosecuted, and will face heavier criminal sanctions,” said Cecilia Malmstrom who is the European Commissioner for Home Affairs.
The new directive builds on already established and Europe-wide rules that have been in effect since 2005, but includes new penalties for running a botnet, stealing confidential information such as passwords and for creating tools which may be used to commit cyber crimes. Botnets in particular are targeted by the directive, as they have become a common occurrence in cyber crimes. Botnets can be very extensive, containing millions of computers and are used to send spam, attack websites and can be used as a resource for plundering saleable data.
Somehow, I don’t think this is what cyber criminals look like in action
The directive recommends that some criminals should have to serve a minimum jail sentence, but that the maximum sentence of five years should be limited to those criminals who do serious damage to systems or computers controlling a nation’s infrastructure. Companies can also fall under penalty of the new directive if they hire hackers to attack rival companies or attempt corporate espionage. Finally, the directive requires that member states come to the aid of European countries falling under particularly heavy cyber attacks.
The directive is expected to be formally adopted soon, at which point European member states will have two years to adopt it into national law.