Information Warfare: Death Penalty For Hackers


November 11,2008: Pakistan has become increasingly active in fighting Internet based criminals. Recently, it enacted the "Prevention of Electronic Crimes" law. In addition to explicitly describing various Internet based crimes, and declaring them criminal acts, it also defined cyber terrorism, and the penalties for Internet terrorists. If someone causes the death of another because of cyber terrorism, the maximum punishment is execution.

Last year, Pakistan spent $3 million to establish a Center For Cyber Crime. This, and the new law, are the result of several trends. First, the national economy is increasingly dependent on Internet access. Without some kind of national level Internet security, the country becomes a more attractive target for large hacker organizations. Second, Islamic terrorists have been making heavy use of the Internet for communications. American intelligence agencies, working in Pakistan with Pakistani police, have demonstrated the wide array of unclassified techniques and equipment available to monitor terrorist use, protect the Internet, and hunt down criminals using it. The government does not want to be as dependent on the Americans for these services.

While the American help is welcome, Pakistan has a large, and growing, software development industry of its own. In fact, the first known computer virus, the "Brain Virus" was written by Pakistani programmers in the late 1970s. "Brain" was created to help protect software, a Pakistani firm had created and was selling, from pirating (illegal copies). But, instead, the Brain virus got out of control, and the rest is history. Pakistan has a lot of home grown talent for their computer crime center.

Finally, there is the ongoing "war" between Indian and Pakistani hackers. Most of this has been little more than vandalism (defacing web pages and the like), but there have been some more serious hacks. So the government wants to be ready on the Cyber War front.



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