Under new UK Government plans hackers who threaten national security could face life in prison if found guilty.
In unusual circumstances the plans were announced in the Queen's speech yesterday. Though we shouldn't get too confused here. This isn't the Queen's own legislation, she is unlikely to know all that much about cyber hacking, she is just tasked with reading out the Government's legislation plan each year.
Any of the following charges will now be face the maximum punishment of a life sentence behind bars: "cyber attacks which result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof."
Currently the maximum sentence for 'Impairing a computer' is only 10 years in the United Kingdom. The offence will be renamed 'Unauthorised access to a computer' and when passed will carry a life sentence.
As we all know life certainly doesn't mean life in the UK, if anyone is ever found guilty under the proposed plan they are likely to only serve the lower end of a life sentence and get released on parole following probable good behavior.
The Computer Misuse Act hasn't been updated since 1990 but as the UK Government and many of our national services use the Internet daily it means that the consequences of a potential cyber attack could now be huge.
The Government’s National Security Strategy ranks cyber terrorism as a 'tier 1' threat alongside international terrorism and major accidents.
The plan if passed would bring the UK in line with the US who made cyber hacking punishable by life in 2011 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City.