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Governments vs. Hackers

12 · JUN ·2014

Just last week Fluidata reported on the GameOver Zeus botnet which had been compromised by the American National Security Agency (NSA) and the FBI. However, even though these government bodies were able to stop this dangerous piece of malware, they admitted that after just two weeks they would likely lose control over it again. This is why so many governments are bringing in harsher punishments for those found committing various forms of cybercrime; however can they really help their citizens and the rest of the world?

The Queen’s Speech

In a ceremonious event each year The Queen addresses the country and announces the government’s new policies and proposed legislations. This year, her speech included a new piece of legislation specifically created to discourage those that take part in cyberattacks and other forms of cybercrime. The Computer Misuse Act will be used in cases where hackers have been found guilty of causing civil unrest due to hacking into or sabotaging systems which control the UK’s food supply, power and police networks. Those who are caught compromising these networks can now be sentenced to life in prison whereas before impairing a computer only carried a maximum of ten years imprisonment. Karen Bradley, the Minister for Organised Crime, said: "Our reliance on computer systems and the degree to which they are interlinked is ever increasing and a major cyber attack on our critical infrastructure would have grave consequences. This Bill would ensure that in the event of such a serious attack those responsible would face the justice they deserve."

The Edward Snowden Debate

Governments across the globe are not only concerned with hackers compromising important databases and networks but also individuals posting what is termed ‘sensitive’ information online. Last year, Edward Snowden leaked thousands of intelligence files from America, England and Canada, causing him to go into hiding and finally claiming political asylum in numerous countries including Russia. Snowden previously worked for the CIA before resigning and then starting work at the National Security Agency where he was in charge of cyber security. During this time he managed to download numerous private and sensitive documents without leaving any electronic signatures, with one worker claiming that he was “a genius among geniuses.” After making documents from the CIA and the NSA public, governments from around the world condemned Snowden and accused him of placing the security of numerous countries at risk.

Is an Open Internet dangerous?

Even though a warrant has been out for Snowden’s arrest since last year, many people feel that what he did should not constitute as illegal as he was only publishing factual information. However, used in the wrong hands this information could enable extremist groups to attack various countries across the world. This therefore begs the question whether an open Internet is actually a good thing if even the most complex firewalls and security solutions can be compromised to the point where lives are put at risk. It seems as though governments across the world have all agreed that an open Internet is far too dangerous, yet at the same time they understand that stopping hackers and preventing cybercrime is practically impossible. Instead, they have introduced stricter regulations which will hopefully discourage potential hackers and place harsher punishments on those that are caught taking part in cybercrimes.

Roy Cooper, Senior Network Engineer at Fluidata comments: “Policing the Internet is an impossible task as every new technological release or update only opens up a fresh new opportunity for hackers to exploit a possible loophole. Recent evidence pertaining to the successful disruption of the GameOver Zeus botnet operation and the passing of the Computer Misuse Act Bill shows more is being done by governments to prevent or deter serious cybercrimes. However, the current state of affairs only shows governments winning the current battle, but far from winning the war on cybercrimes.”

Governments around the world are drawing the battle lines when it comes to hackers as with each passing day countries are becoming more and more connected. Soon, it may take more than just one government to protect the world’s food supply, power and national security, resulting in the need for worldwide Internet regulations.

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Posted by Sanita Karra