Computer Crime Research Center


Computer crime law causes worries

Date: September 29, 2006

Moves by several European countries to tighten laws against computer hacking worry security professionals, who often use the same tools as hackers but for legitimate purposes.

The U.K. and Germany are among the countries that are considering revisions to their computer crime laws in line with the European 2001 Convention on Cybercrime and a similar European Union measure passed in early 2005 (see "Senate approves cybercrime treaty").

But security professionals are scrutinizing those revisions out of concern for how prosecutors and judges could apply the laws. Security professionals are especially concerned about cases where the revisions apply to programs that could be used for bad or good. Companies often use hacking programs to test the mettle of their own systems.

"One useful utility in the wrong hands is a potentially malicious hacking tool," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos PLC in Abingdon, England.

In the U.K., legislators are debating amendments to the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) of 1990. The proposed revisions would make it illegal to create or supply a tool to someone who intends to use it for unauthorized computer access or modification.
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