Equifax breach highlights cyber crimes

Equifax breach highlights cyber crimes

The recent Equifax data breach has been cited as one of the biggest incidents of its kind. It highlighted the alarming reality that every person and company can have their sensitive information stolen by hackers at any time and spawned dozens of class action lawsuits filed by both consumers and shareholders. Lawmakers are now reconsidering the advantages of new federal legislation for both breach notification laws and cybersecurity standards.

New York cyber crimes

As cyber crime continues to rise, so does the dedication of law enforcement officials to catching the parties responsible and holding them accountable. There is a long list of computer-related crimes in New York’s penal code, many of which are listed below.

  • Computer tampering: This offense has four degrees, beginning with the basic crime of using a computer to intentionally alter or destroy someone else’s data and escalating all the way up to Computer Tampering in the First Degree, a Class C felony.
  • Criminal possession of computer-related material: If you possess computer data or a computer program without the required right or permission, then you can be convicted of a Class E felony and spend four years in prison.
  • Unlawful duplication of computer-related material: The misdemeanor version of this crime involves copying medical record data without permission. The First Degree offense involves data valued in excess of $2,500 or duplication committed while committing some other felony.
  • Computer trespass: A felony offense punishable by up to four years in prison, you are guilty of computer trespass when you illegally access or use a computer with the intent to gain access to material for the purpose of  committing  a felony.
  • Unauthorized use of a computer:  A Class A misdemeanor, unauthorized use of a computer takes place when you access a computer without permission and bypass a system intended to prevent unauthorized use.

Federal cyber crimes

Internet-based crimes have a cross-jurisdictional aspect that can land a defendant in a federal criminal court. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits accessing a computer without authorization, or in excess of authorization, and anyone convicted of offenses like the following can face significant fines and prison time.

  • Computer hacking
  • Spamming
  • Phishing
  • Piracy of software, music, movies, and games
  • Cyberstalking
  • Extortion
  • Use of the Internet to disseminate child pornography
  • Unlawful access to stored communications
  • Cyberterrorism

As the Equifax incident proves, cyber crimes can do a lot of damage, which is why both state and federal authorities prosecute defendants so zealously. Unfortunately, innocent parties can find themselves the target of investigation, especially if the criminal activity appears to be coming from their IP address. Hackers who are especially savvy have been known to use a wireless network to commit their crimes, incriminating uninvolved parties in the process.

If you are facing a cyber crime charge in New York, then contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Your attorney will ensure that your rights are protected, and the authorities do not overreach when seeking evidence against you. Because computer crimes have such severe potential penalties experienced legal counsel is the best investment you can make in your freedom. Julie Rendelman is a criminal defense attorney with more than 20 years of legal experience. If you are under investigation for a computer or cyber crime, then contact her office immediately at 212-951-1232 for a free consultation. Visit www.RendelmanLaw.com to learn more.