Transmitting a Malicious Code

 

TRANSMITTING MALICIOUS CODES AND HACKING COMPUTERS IN VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW

By John Teakell
Attorney-at-Law
Dallas, Texas

What is transmission of malicious code 0r hacking?

The Computer Fraud Abuse Act (CFAA) is codified as Title 18 U.S.C Section 1030(a), which includes several offenses for alleged computer crimes. These are: (1) unauthorized access of a computer to obtain national security information with the intent to harm the United States or for the benefit of a foreign country; (2) unauthorized access of a computer to obtain protected financial or credit information; (3) unauthorized access of a computer in use by the federal government; (4) unauthorized access of a protected computer with intent to defraud; (5) intentionally damaging a computer; (6) fraudulent trafficking in computer passwords and other information used to gain access to a protected computer; and (7) threatening a computer with the intent of extorting money or something of value.

A case of transmitting a malicious code to cause damage to a computer is prosecuted in federal court as a felony offense. Like all criminal cases, the United States has to prove knowing/willful intent to violate the law. It is a form of “hacking” into a computer in order to cause damage or to obtain information without authorization to do so.

These investigations can be time-consuming and they will focus on the activities shown on a server or computer network, often for a company or firm that is victimized. These cases may involve remote access to a system by a person who does or attempts to transmit a code that causes damage to a computer or computers. These cases can be investigated by a variety of agencies, and they prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the federal prosecutor’s office.

Charges for hacking

An offense of transmitting a malicious code, or submitting a virus or code to damage a computer system, could be prosecuted in federal court as Wire Fraud, 18 U.S. Code, Section 1343. It likely would be prosecuted as a violation of the CFAA, found at Title 18, U.S.C. Section 1030(a)(5)(A).

Investigations

Investigations will have documents and other evidence that includes computer logs, emails, work orders, password access, internal security measures, and modifications to computers.

Sentencing

A person convicted of transmitting a malicious code, or other computer crime charges in federal courts, will be subject to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, as is case for any federal prosecution. These sentencings are affected by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which yields a recommended imprisonment range that the U.S. District Judge can follow or reject. If the judge wants to vary or depart from the recommended sentencing range of imprisonment, he/she can do so with an articulated reason for not sentencing within the recommended range of punishment.