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Penalties for cybercrime offenses are being tightened

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Today, the government is examining tougher penalties for cybercrime offenses. “The Internet is not a legal vacuum,” said Justice Minister Alma Zadic (Greens) in the press foyer after the Council of Ministers. The point is that perpetrators who use “hacking” to gain access to a PC and tap sensitive data are held accountable and punished accordingly, explained Zadic. It is also about tougher penalties for perpetrators who spread computer viruses or other malware. “We want and we must protect ourselves against these digital attacks.” Companies should be protected from espionage, as well as state institutions from digital attacks. Last year there was a hacker attack on the Carinthian state administration.

On the one hand, Zadic emphasized the establishment of cybercrime competence centers at the public prosecutor’s offices, which should ensure more expert knowledge in the field of cybercrime. There are now ten such cyber competence centers in Austria.

Higher penalties

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In addition, there are higher penalties: According to the government’s plans, anyone who hacks a computer faces up to two years in prison; if the target is part of the critical infrastructure, the penalty increases to up to three years. The criminal offenses for the protection of business and trade secrets are increased and in some cases quadrupled, as the minister emphasized. Private prosecution turns into an authorization offense, which means that the public prosecutor can take appropriate steps as soon as the company concerned has given the authorization.

Higher penalties also give more investigative opportunities, as Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) emphasized. In the future, for example, a covert investigation by the criminal police or cell phone tracking would also be possible, and tracking would also be possible abroad. According to the Ministry of the Interior, once the law comes into force, a European arrest warrant can be obtained and the criminals extradited to Austria.

In addition, the Ministry of the Interior once again referred to the reform of the criminal service with the expansion of the staff of the so-called Cyber ​​Cobra. To this end, priority departments with specialists in this area should be closer to the people in the regions. Training is also to be improved through several cyber training centers. The criminal service reform is currently being negotiated between those responsible for the project at the Federal Criminal Police Office and the staff representatives.

Karner appealed to the population to make their own provision and to be sensitive. It’s about paying attention to the sender of messages you receive and not opening e-mail attachments immediately. “It would never occur to anyone to leave their house key on the main square,” Karner recommended. The users should be “just as critical and careful” in virtual space as in real life, it said.

Source: Nachrichten

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