The state of Texas prosecutes most computer crimes under Title 7, Chapter 33 of the Texas State Penal Code. Computer crimes consist of everything from breach of computer security, online impersonation, online solicitation of a minor, to outright computer fraud. If found guilty of a federal computer crime, penalties can include up to 99 years in state prison.
The United States federal government prosecutes most computer crimes under The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) of 1986, updated in 2002 by the Patriot Act and the 2008 Identity Theft and Restitution Act. While the minimum prison sentence under Federal law is 10 years, the term can extend to life in prison if a death occurred due to the crime.
Computer crimes are considered federal offenses for which individuals are charged in federal court and prosecuted by the US attorney, or a federal prosecutor. When it comes down to it, there are two basic categories of criminal computer activity: unauthorized access and intrusion.
Unauthorized access is a computer crime that consists of entering a computer network without the proper authorization to do so. Some examples of unauthorized access include using someone else’s password to enter, guessing passwords, or any other method used to get into an area without authorization.
Additionally, even individuals with access or proper authorization can be charged with unauthorized access if they enter an area they’re not supposed to. Unauthorized access computer crime charges may result in a federal court prosecution, as there are specific computer crime statutes.
Intrusion or Hacking
Intrusion (or hacking) is considered an aggressive crime, usually are due to serious or aggressive reasons. Intrusion or hacking crimes typically come with a search for sensitive company information, the status of a project, or important files. Intrusion computer crimes often come with planting spyware, which allows someone to access the computer system on an on-going basis to monitor emails or communications.
Typically, someone intrudes or hacks a computer system out of anger or a grudge against a company. Hackers or intruders may plant malware to destroy files, and/or to crash the computer network system. Intruding or hacking a company’s computer system usually results in disruptions for long periods of time, and potential money loss.
Hackers typically use an IP or email address fraudulently, or without authorization to intrude a computer system on someone’s behalf. Today, it’s easy for hackers or intruders to “spoof” someone’s email or IP address in order to hide their identity.