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U.S. Computer Criminals to Get Longer Sentences

(From SANS News Bites, Vol. 5 Num. 40, http://www.sans.org)
People convicted of cyber crimes will begin receiving harsher sentences in November [2003]. Under the new guidelines, developed by the US Sentencing Commission, most computer crimes are punishable by sentences of between 1 and 10 years; if the offense threatens or results in injury or death the prison sentence is 20 years. Virus and worm authors will see a 50% increase in length of prison sentences; sentences for those convicted of breaking into government systems or systems connected with the nation's critical infrastructure will be double what they were before.
[Editor's Note (Schultz): This is a very positive development.
Cybercriminals have not been getting sentences that are proportional to the magnitude of the crimes they have been committing. (Schneier): I worry whether this is going to be used to increase the threat for crimes that are only peripherally computer-related by tying them to computer use. It's already a problem that damage amounts in computer-related crime are often based on numbers plucked from thin air.]

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