Federal Computer Crimes
In 1984, the Comprehensive Crime Control Act was signed into law by then President Ronald Reagan. This Act was the first broad modification to the United States Criminal Code since just after the turn of that century. Among its components was the re-enactment of the federal death penalty, an escalation of federal penalties for possession, cultivation, or transfer (sale) of marijuana as well as the creation of the United States Sentencing Commission, among other provisions.
Two years later, the Act was amended to include the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. This Act was intended to protect government computers from an individual or groups accessing these computers and servers without permission from the governmental body. It was also intended to protect computers against illegal access of certain banking institutions, making it a federal crime in both cases.
The Act was amended and expanded on many occasions based on new cases that had previously been tried through laws of the land but were found to be in gray areas when involving these same crimes by use of computers connected to the Internet and Intranet networks.
The most significant amendment to the Act came in 2001 after the terrorist attacks that took down the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan in New York City. The upgrade to the law for the first time now made it possible for law enforcement investigatory agencies to search and seize records from Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
This was essentially a new area for federal prosecutions with a seemingly infinite scope of categories involving crimes that involve computer usage and the new blossoming frontier of the Internet.
The Act was later invoked by private concerns to act against intruders that would attempt and succeed by accessing trade secrets and exclusive information as well as intellectual property. It was amended by Congress in 1994 to permit complainants from the private sector in pursuit of civil damages under the Act.
Because of the rapid growth of both personal computers as well as the Internet since the late 1990's many local law enforcement agencies were put in the position of creating their own "cyber" crime divisions. In more cases than not, all states and numerous local municipality police agencies now have their own representatives policing complaints involving the World Wide Web and individuals using personal computers from the comfort of their homes, Internet cafe's as well as libraries and other hot spots that offer a Wi-Fi connection.
The federal law enforcement agency that is responsible for investigating cyber-crimes and works with these local police departments is the FBI. They oversee investigations relating to Computer intrusion (hacking), Child Pornography and/or Exploitation, Password trafficking, Internet fraud and SPAM control, Internet harassment (bullying), trafficking in explosive or incendiary devices or firearms over the Internet and online bomb threats. They are assisted in the above areas of criminal investigation by the U.S. Secret Service, Internet Crime Complaint Center, Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Crimes that relate to counterfeiting of currency are handled by the U.S. Secret Service and crimes that have a child exploitation and Internet fraud component which have a mail connection are overseen by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service also with assistance from the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
A vast well-organized criminal enterprise is not necessarily the main culprits in crimes involving computer hacking, mail fraud, wire fraud, and may other federal crimes perpetrated across the Web. In many cases small groups and ordinary individuals become the architects of Internet crimes with large sums of money stolen as well as sensitive data breached from servers which are compromised and sold to the highest bidders or used for their own personal gain.
Over the past few years' major online retailers have been hit; compromising their customer's sensitive data, linking social security numbers with other information in the attempt of hackers whose purpose is to use the data to commit identity theft and other crimes relating to it. It is a growing online problem with attacks constantly being countered by cyber law enforcement and the ever-growing online security industry.
The Internet is just a reflection of what goes on in a brick and mortar world with retailers such as Sony online entertainment, Target and most recently Home Depot losing vital customer information as a result of attacks by hackers. Any crime committed in the real world can be duplicated in an online environment with the exception of those where physical contact is required.
IP Address shielding and the use of proxy servers make it more difficult for law enforcement to easily locate the actual origin of these attacks and many of them originate from overseas and in many situations are not covered or enforceable by the laws of the United States.
Federal authorities make many arrests that lead back to innocent parties whose IP Addresses have been compromised due to this factor, and many of the actual attackers have buffers protecting them by bouncing their actual IP Addresses all over the world before an attack is instituted. Legitimate companies such as Hot Spot Shield as well as many other companies will mask your IP Address for as little as $2.49 per month.
If you are charged by a federal law enforcement agency or find out that you're a target of an investigation relating to computer/Internet crimes call my office at the earliest possible moment for help in countering any of these federal charges. Based on the above mentioned "gray areas" relating to Internet law my expertise in federal law will be a strong asset in a defense for fighting all charges alleged by the government.
To read a full list of my qualifications and what you should do if you are facing computer or Internet related federal charges or any other criminal allegations, click here.