Computer Crimes

Cybercrime has become more common in the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation now list cybercrime as the third most important national security priority behind counterterrorism and counterintelligence. The various types of Cybercrime include computer intrusion also known as hacking, online predators, piracy, and intellectual property theft to name a few.

The word hacker describes people accused of breaking into computer systems and networks. People involved in the exploration of technology however are also often referred to by that term. A "hack" in the technology world usually defines a new and novel creation or method of solving a problem, typically in an unorthodox fashion. Motivation for hackers ranges from peer admiration to monetary gain. Mostly of younger age, hackers are talented, sometimes bored yet typically highly organized. Thousands have banded into organizations or groups. Some governmental agencies actually treat many of these organizations or groups as criminal, cyber-terrorist organizations, or virtual gangs. Some organizations are self-designated as “white hat” (good) and some “black hat” (evil) organizations. By the hacker code of ethics, white hat hackers agree to refrain from causing damage, and even pay penance for their trespasses by reporting security leaks to their victims. Some go so far as to develop patches for the very holes they exploited. This group represents the majority of hackers who, through self-policing, provide a rogue form of security, and quality testing at no cost to vendors, and their customers. Black hatters, on the other hand, are frequently accused of being malicious, unleashing dangerous viruses, crashing servers, defacing web pages, and even waging information warfare. Government organizations believe many of these groups are financed by business competitors or foreign governments.

Many times, the most common type of hacker the public hears about are the “Black Hatters” who are looking to cause trouble. Media outlets are quick to highlight attacks like the 700,000 victims notified of hackers who accessed into the systems of a major pharmacy benefits management company and threatened to expose customer prescription records. More recent online attacks included the adding of anti-government messages to a county Superior Court web page.

Many companies specialize in providing protection from hackers. Companies in the computer security and protection industry produce software that people can use to protect themselves from the various types of virtual attacks. Some of these companies employ thousands of people whose main purpose is to thwart the attacks of hackers by continuously updating the software for subscribers.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is one of many government agencies that specialize in tracking, investigating, and capturing cyber attackers. A Cyber Division has been created at FBI Headquarters to address cyber-crime. It is staffed with specially trained cyber squads in many field offices. The squads are composed of agents and analysts whose job is to identify a variety of online threats. The Bureau also deploys New Cyber Action Teams that travel the world to help identify the cyber-threats that are most dangerous to the U.S. national security and economy. When considering the combination and collaboration between federal, state, and local counterparts, the government has a large number of Computer Crimes Task Forces nationwide.

The US justice system has been playing catch-up with the rapid changes in technology. Some of the new technologies available make it easier to detect and isolate online threats. The continuing rapid evolution of technology makes prosecuting many cases difficult. Questions are also arising about how Constitutional rights will be affected by technology and the methods that law enforcement agencies use in investigating high tech computer crime. While some factual scenarios involving high tech criminal acts have been considered by the court, many legal questions remain unanswered. With the expanding influence of the internet in daily activities, it is inevitable that many more legal questions will arise. The internet is likely the one legal area that will produce most new legal opinions.

In California any person who, without prior permission knowingly accesses, damages, alters, deletes, destroys, or otherwise uses any virtual data, computer, computer system, or computer networks to execute any scheme or plan to defraud, extort, deceive, or wrongfully move or obtain money, property, or virtual data can be punished by large fines, imprisonment, or both. If you have been accused of a computer related crime in Sacramento state or federal court, call us for a consultation. The potential penalties are high and you need experience and knowledge on your side. At the law offices of Bonilla & Cintean, LLP. we can assemble a team of investigators and computer experts to assist the attorneys in properly defending you. Our attorneys have handled some of the most complex computer offense cases including cases involving alleged fraudulent network access and the largest identity theft case in Northern California in which computer and online data comprised more than 100,000 pages of reports in discovery. If you have been accused and are looking for a Sacramento computer or internet crime attorney, call our offices today.