Sentences For Hackers

This morning’s WSJ on page A3 really boiled my blood. In the article, “Hacker Sentences Pose Test for Judges,” the WSJ reported on the Latvian hacker convicted for a part in the Gozi virus. The Gozi virus was one which target bank accounts of consumers, underscored the vulnerability of online consumer banking, and infected more than a million computers worldwide. The sentence was left at 21 months, or “time served.” Really?

According to the WSJ, the judge in this case, as with judges in other cases, struggle with sentences to fit the crime. Frankly, the salient issue is not the mere $1000.00 this crook received for his participation, but the impact on others. While I am not necessarily a fan of locking people up at taxpayer expense, have judges ever heard of the concept of restitution? The incentive to commit cybercrime needs to be taken away so that criminals get the point that crime does not pay; it costs big.

What if this crook was sentenced to repay everything he cost others? While the crime may be so huge, it could never be repaid by a single accomplice in a lifetime, what is wrong with spending a lifetime paying it back? (Or at least part of it.)

Cybercrime is big business because the payoffs are huge. Let’s make the payback huge in financial terms and take away the financial incentives these crooks enjoy. The sentences for hackers need to be financially huge and commensurate with the financial damage caused.

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