Feeds

UK bans denial of service attacks

That'll stop 'em

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

A law was passed last week that makes it an offence to launch a denial of service attack in the UK, punishable by up to ten years in prison.

There had been concern that Britain's Computer Misuse Act, written in the days before the World Wide Web, allowed denial of service attacks to fall through a loophole. These are attacks in which a web or email server is deliberately flooded with information to the point of collapse.

The 1990 legislation described an offence of doing anything with criminal intent "which causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any computer"; the question was whether that covered denial of service attacks. When a court cleared teenager David Lennon in November 2005 on charges of sending five million emails to his former employer – because the judge decided that no offence had been committed under the Act – the need for amendment seemed obvious.

Lennon's lawyer had successfully argued that the purpose of the company's server was to receive emails, and therefore the company had consented to the receipt of emails and their consequent modifications in data. District Judge Kenneth Grant concluded that sending emails is an authorised act and that Lennon had no case to answer, so no trial took place. That ruling was overturned and Lennon was sentenced to two months' curfew with an electronic tag. But by that time, amendments to the 1990 legislation were already included in the Police and Justice bill.

It was passed yesterday, becoming the Police And Justice Act 2006. The Act also increased the penalty for unauthorised access to computer material from a maximum of six months' imprisonment to two years.

The 2006 Act expands the 1990 Act's provisions on unauthorised modification of computer material to criminalise someone who does an unauthorised act in relation to a computer with "the requisite intent" and "the requisite knowledge."

The requisite intent is an intent to do the act in question and by so doing:

  • to impair the operation of any computer,
  • to prevent or hinder access to any program or data held in any computer, or
  • to impair the operation of any program or data held in any computer.

The intent need not be directed at any particular computer or any particular program or data.

The wording is wide enough that paying someone else to launch an attack will still be a crime, with a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Supplying the software tools to launch an attack or offering access to a botnet could be punished with up to two years in prison.

See: The Police and Justice Bill(the relevant clauses are 33 to 36; the Act was not available at the time of writing)asHTML or as a 145-page / 633KB PDF.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.