October was National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM), which, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is “an annual campaign to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity.”
Every year, the DHS plans a number of programs and events to educate those in both the private and public sectors about the importance of online safety as well as to “increase the resiliency of the Nation in the event of a cyber incident.”
The themes for 2017’s NCSAM included:
- Simple Steps to Online Safety;
- Cybersecurity in the Workplace is Everyone’s Business;
- Today’s Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet;
- The Internet Wants YOU: Consider a Career in Cybersecurity; and
- Protecting Critical Infrastructure from Cyber Threats.
In addition to NCSAM, Texas’ Senate Judiciary Committee recently approved Erin Nealy Cox’s nomination to be the new U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, which serves seven million people across 100 counties.
Why is this big news?
Besides being a former federal prosecutor in Dallas, Cox is also a cybersecurity expert.
Between1999 to 2008, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney specializing in cybercrime prosecutions. When she left the U.S. Attorney’s office, she ended up at Stroz Friedberg, “a global risk management and cybersecurity consulting firm” where her responsibilities included “investigating intrusions and data breaches for the company.”
The Cox appointment to the U.S. Attorney post is a clear signal that there will be an increased prosecutorial emphasis on cybercrime-related cases.
This development demands a look at the federal cybercrime laws, the consequences associated with federal cybercrimes, and how you can fight back if you find yourself facing charges.
What Do Federal Cybercrimes Entail?
Cybercrimes are essentially computer crimes that generally involve gaining access to private and confidential information – without permission, of course – that is stored on a computer, online, or in a database.
The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act details different types of criminal activities that can bring federal charges, including:
- Obtaining National Security Information, which can bring a 10-year sentence.
- Accessing a Computer and Obtaining Information, which can bring a 1- or 5-year sentence.
- Trespassing in a Government Computer, which can bring a 1-year sentence.
- Accessing a Computer to Defraud & Obtain Value, which can bring a 5-year sentence.
- Intentionally Damaging by Knowing Transmission, which can bring a 1- or 10-year sentence.
- Recklessly Damaging by Intentional Access, which can bring a 1- or 5-year sentence.
- Negligently Causing Damage & Loss by Intentional Access, which can bring a 1-year sentence.
- Trafficking in Passwords, which can bring a 1-year sentence.
- Extortion Involving Computers, which can bring a 5-year sentence.
A second conviction can bring a maximum sentence of 10-20 years in prison. Conspiracy to commit these crimes or attempts to commit these crimes can also have you facing federal charges.
How Can I Beat Federal Cybercrime Charges?
Federal cybercrime charges must be taken seriously. For that reason, if you find yourself facing these charges, you should reach out to an experienced Texas federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible in order to develop a defense to a complex prosecution.
Defense strategies against cybercrime charges could potentially include that you did in fact have authorization; that you didn’t know what you were actually doing; or that you were being forced or threatened to commit these crimes.
A skilled attorney will be able to listen to the facts of your case and determine the best defense strategy to get your charges reduced, dropped, or ultimately dismissed. Act promptly: contact a lawyer today to protect your rights and get the justice you deserve.