Hackers face stiffer sentences as 80% of businesses besieged

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The Independent Online

The Government will come under pressure to increase the maximum sentence for hacking to two years as business struggles to counter computer crime.

The Government will come under pressure to increase the maximum sentence for hacking to two years as business struggles to counter computer crime.

This will be one of the main recommendations to come out of the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG) inquiry into computer crime. The group will tell ministers that the current six-month sentence for hacking needs increasing to, "send a strong signal to the hackers and also to allow British police to extradite criminals", according to Labour MP Brian White, the treasurer of APIG.

The group is preparing to recommend that the Government make amendments to the 14-year-old Computer Misuse Act to tackle computer crime.

Chaired by Labour MP Derek Wyatt, APIG will argue that businesses should allocate a director with specific responsibility for IT security and that companies should include a chapter on the subject in their annual reports.

The group would also like to see the police increase the number of officers capable of investigating computer crime. "At present there are only 240 computer forensic officers in the country. If we are serious about the issue, we should add a naught to this figure," Mr White said.

"In Britain, we have serial hackers," said Mr Wyatt. "I recently had a four-and-a-half hour attack on my system, it gobbled up the text in front of my eyes. This is a very serious issue for business. It must be addressed though legislation."

Mr Wyatt claimed that the Home Office and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) were supportive of his calls to amend the act.

Nick Ray, the chief executive of PREVX, a security software company, said: "IT security is now reaching a critical point for UK companies. More than 80 per cent of UK businesses were subject to some sort of attack last year."

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