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Ransomware 101

November 29, 2016 | Posted In Internet Law |

By now, nearly every New Jersey resident and business has a computer, with some companies maintaining entire computer systems and networks. But whether it is a small business owner or a Fortune 100 company, all of them are vulnerable to computer hacking from a variety of sources.

In September of 2016, a global hacker plead guilty to having accessed computers illegally.  The hacker was associated with a group who calls themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, which hacked into computer systems threatening to cause damage or to sell data unless a ransom was received from many different companies and organizations, including The Washington Post, CNN, the Associated Press, Harvard University and many others.  In July of 2016, the New Jersey Spine Center suffered from a ransomware attack involving both their computer and backup systems. 

To educate the general population regarding computer hacking and the malware (known as ransomware) that attempts to extort money by blocking a company from using their computer systems or software until a ransom is paid, October was established as National Cyber Security Awareness month.

New Jersey Computer Hacking

There are several sections of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice that relate to the crime of computer hacking, including section 2C:20-25 which describes computer criminal activity including:

  • Accessing data, computer equipment, computer storage, or computer systems
  • Altering or destroying data, software, computer systems, or computer networks
  • Disrupting or impairing computer services including access to the Internet
  • Attempting to access data, computer networks or computer services for the purpose of executing a scheme to defraud or obtain money

Depending on the exact nature of the hacking involved, computer criminal activity can be charged as a first-degree felony with a possible sentence of 20 years in jail, or as a second or third-degree offense.  It is also possible that other statutes will apply to the specific instance of computer hacking, including:

  • Wrongful access of data, database, computer, storage, software or computer equipment and disclosure of data, software or personal identification information.
  • Obtaining, copying, or accessing computer programs or software with a value under one thousand dollars.

Because there are so many intricacies to the New Jersey laws involving computer criminal activity, it is important to speak to an experienced New Jersey data breach attorney to determine which statute and sentence may apply and to develop your best defense. 

In some instances of computer hacking, an individual can also be charged with a federal crime, much like the individuals who pled guilty in July of 2016 to conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity with computers after they hacked computers and stole millions of personal identities for personal gain.

Contact HCK, P.A. for Immediate Assistance

The data breach attorneys at Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, P.A. are familiar with all of the state and federal laws that apply to computer hacking and ransomware.  Call today to speak to one of our attorneys and begin to prepare your defense.

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