Computer hacking is among the most serious white-collar crimes in South Carolina and around the country. It’s important to understand what constitutes this offense.
What is computer hacking?
Computer hacking is a crime that involves finding weaknesses in a computer network or system to exploit its security. Once security is breached, the hacker can gain access to the sensitive personal, financial or business data on the system or network. One way this crime is carried out is through cracking an algorithm to gain access.
What are laws of computer crimes?
It’s illegal to directly or indirectly access a computer for fraudulent purposes. Those purposes could include obtaining money, services or property from a victim. For example, if a victim accesses a rogue link or download, the criminal could gain access to their computer and steal their personal and financial information.
In order for a person to be found guilty of computer hacking and other computer crimes, the prosecution would have to prove that they carried out the activity willingly, knowingly and maliciously. In other words, if a person gained access to someone else’s computer without intent, they might not be found guilty.
Some convictions for computer hacking are charged as misdemeanors depending on the factors of the case. For instance, if the victim loses up to $200 as a result of the crime, the defendant might be charged with a misdemeanor. However, if the defendant has multiple convictions for hacking or other computer crimes, they could be charged with a felony in the first or second degree. A felony conviction could also come if the victim was defrauded out of more than $10,000.
For a misdemeanor conviction, there is a jail sentence of up to 30 days. For a felony conviction for computer hacking and other computer crimes, the person could face up to two years in prison.