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This is cyber-crime, not just an act of hacking

Source: IT WEB
BY Shumani Gereda
Date: July 31, 2003

Stop Cyber Crime My name is Shumani Gereda, an attorney in Johannesburg specialising in IT Law & Telecomms related aspects.

I believe the word "hacker" is being used loosely in this article. The ECT Act does not define what a hacker is, neither does it define cyber crime. It only gives an explanation of what constitutes cyber [computer-related] crime.

It is therefore important that experts make it clear in their comments that the practice of hacking, as loosely defined in various dictionaries, do constitute cyber crime as provided for in section 85-6 of the ECT Act, and not that the ECT Act itself defines what a "hacker" is.

The ECT Act`s provision relating to cyber crime is wide enough to be restricted only to "hacker". It includes both people who accesses data without authority, for gain, and those who just do it for fun (crackers- A person who breaks into computer systems, using them without authorization, either maliciously or just to show off).

Crackers are normally software experts who just want to show big IT companies that their security systems is flawed. Hackers are criminals who are not experimenting, but intending to commit a crime. E.g. A person who enters ABSA Bank`s computer programme system without authority, and then calls the bank manager to say, "Hey mate, you better work on your security system. It is hackable.", is a cracker.

Section 88 of the ECT Act also criminalises the conduct of a person who gives access, e.g. office keys, to a would-be hacker, i.e. aiding and abetting. This is therefore a cyber crime, and clearly not an act of hacking.

The ECT Act also criminalises the conduct of a person who reads my email messages without authorisation, whether or not my Inbox was open or not. Though this is an act of cyber crime as provided for in the ECT Act, it surely is not an act of hacking.

In the ABSA case, if it is true that the offender/s gained access to their victims` personal data/security information, sometime before commiting the much publicised crime, they would then have to be prosecuted for more than one crime, including the very first act accessing those personal information, to entering ABSA`s system.

Lastly, the ECT Act recognises automated / electronic agents, and as such it should be possible for a hacker/cracker to be prosecuted under section 87 of the ECT Act, for fraud. My qualified opinion is that the ABSA case is indeed a fraud-related case.


Original article: www.itweb.co.za

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