THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION has agreed to hand down tougher sentences to those convicted of cyber crimes.
The European Commission has been investigating the varying sentences that can be imposed on those convicted of cyber crimes among the 28 member states of the European Union. Now the commission has agreed upon tougher sentences and proposed new laws such as an "illegal interception" law.
According to the commission directive, criminal penalties are set at a minimum of two years. The European Commission also said that instigating, aiding and abetting any cyber crime offences can also be penalised.
The commission made specific reference to botnet owners, saying that when a signficant number of systems have been affected by an attack, there will be a minimum three year prison term upon conviction, and when a botnet causes "serious damage" or is deployed against critical infrastructure, the sentence will be increased to five years.
Cecilia Malmström, the European Commissioner responsible for Home Affairs said, "I am pleased that formal approval has been reached on new rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and the sanctions in the area of cyber crime. The perpetrators of increasingly sophisticated attacks and the producers of related and malicious software can now be prosecuted, and will face heavier criminal sanctions.
"Member States will also have to quickly respond to urgent requests for help in the case of cyber attacks, hence improving European justice and police cooperation."
Of course the European Commission's directive is useless unless member states can actually catch perpetrators and it said it will try to improve European state cooperation, with agencies required to answer queries within eight hours. µ