White House cracks down on hackers

If new legislation is passed, hackers may face stricter sentences.
If President Obama has his way, hackers will have a whole new set of sentences to face if they continue to infiltrate government computer networks.

Even before the recent high-profile attacks on the public sites for the CIA and the Senate, the Obama administration was pressuring Congress to double the punishment for those found guilty of compromising national security.

If the new legislation is passed, breaking into a US government computer could earn a culprit a 20-year prison sentence if national security is at stake. Currently that crime carries a punishment of only ten years max. Computer theft, which carries a $5,000 fine now — could become a10-year sentence, and attempts to unlawfully access a government computer could become a three-year term behind bars.

Earlier this month, attacks on the Senate’s and CIA’s public websites left both parties scrambling for answers as the nation questioned the security of what should be impenetrable to the e-world. Speaking to Reuters, the Center for Strategic and International Studies' James Lewis says, “It’s been a busy month."

Concern has surfaced as of late after hacking groups and political activists have teamed together to launch full-fledged attacks over the Internet to make more than just mischief. Newfangled “hacktivists” are combining political advocacy with cyber-crime to spread agenda over a medium that the savviest of computer users have found a way to infiltrate through.

LulzSec, an offshoot of the group Anonymous, has taken credit for recent attacks on the government sites. Upon lifting data from the Senate’s public website, a representative from LulzSec tweeted, "This is a small, just-for-kicks release of some internal data from Senate.gov – is this an act of war, gentlemen?"

The following day, activists associated with Anonymous and critics of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke waged a cross-country demonstration against the chair.