updated 12:16 pm EDT, Fri July 5, 2013
Botnet operators face three-year sentences, five for infrastructure attacks
The European Parliament has issued a draft directive that will give harsher punishments to hackers in the future. The directive will ask the 28 member states of the European Union to update their national maximum sentences to at least two years in prison for the illegal infiltration of computer systems, with higher sentences for more serious computer crimes.
Owners of botnets face a maximum of three years in prison, while attacks against "critical infrastructure," namely power plants, transport, or government networks, could lead to a five-year sentence, reports Reuters. Firms or individuals that hire hackers to perform acts for their own benefit will be liable for the crimes, with the possibility of the complete shutdown of a company if the act is severe enough.
Member states also have to respond to urgent requests in relation to cyber attacks, and have been set an eight-hour deadline for response.
The draft was adopted by a vote of 541 to 91, with member states needing to apply it to national law within two years. The United Kingdom and Ireland have already decided to apply the rules, but Denmark has opted to continue using its existing laws.