Digital Transformation

European parliament to bring in tougher penalties for cyber crime

Europe wants to get tougher on cyber criminals – but businesses will need to foil them too.

Tougher penalties are to be brought in by the European parliament that are aimed at quashing the perpetrators of cyber crime.

Currently, the 28 member states have a patchwork approach that means people caught sending out malware or stealing data can receive different punishments in different countries. This is partly because technology has evolved so rapidly that there are not even regulations against some forms of attack.

However, a draft directive has now been adopted to extend the rules set out in 2005, meaning new forms of cyber crime are included and are therefore punishable.

The legislation will be European Union-wide and cover things like botnets – anyone found to be running a network of these ‘zombie’ computers will face a minimum of three years in prison.

A sentence of five years imprisonment will be imposed on those attacking critical infrastructure.

Importantly though, the new policy makes companies liable for any online offences that are committed in their name, BBC News reports. This could mean that businesses need to be even more careful with their data protection methods in the future.

Fraud prevention manager at Trusteer Etay Maor told Computer Weekly he believes cyber criminals will only be brought to book when there is tighter cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

"In the meantime, we have to make sure that users’ devices stay malware-free and that organisations worldwide have a clear picture of what is targeting them and how they can mitigate the threat quickly and effectively," he added.

Gavin Millard from Tripwire agreed that legislation may not be effective, particularly when it can be hard to know who is committing cyber crime.

"As long as the cost of data extraction is lower than the value of the data itself, criminal elements will continue to take advantage, irrelevant of the consequences," he said.

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