U.K. politicians call for tougher stance on DoS attacks

The U.K. government needs to take a tougher stance on crimes committed via the Internet by updating the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) to include stiffer sentencing for computer criminals and targeting denial of service attackers, a group of Members of Parliament (MPs) urged Wednesday.

MPs in the All-Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG), including Derek Wyatt, Richard Allan and Brian White, released a report alerting the government to the urgent need for updating U.K. IT security legislation to address new user threats. The group is recommending that denial of service (DoS) attacks be made an explicit offense, that the penalty for hacking offenses be increased from six months to two years and that improved information on cybercrime be provided by the use of statistical sampling. Many, though not all, DoS attacks are currently illegal under the CMA.

APIG also called on the government to reform current fraud laws as soon as possible. A proposal for those reforms is expected in November.

The government welcomes the APIG report and that the Home Office will review the CMA and bring forward amendments to the law, Home Office Minister Caroline Flint said in a statement.

MessageLabs Ltd. also offered support for the recommendations, particularly the call for the Internet service provider (ISP) industry to develop best practice procedures for monitoring DoS and hacking attacks. MessageLabs CTO Mark Sunner gave evidence at the APIG’s April 29 committee inquiry.

Alan Lawson, research analyst at Butler Group, a part of Butler Direct Ltd., said in a separate statement that the recommendations in the APIG report represent only a small, though important, step toward improved cybercrime legislation.

Any significant improvements to cybercrime law will come only with the reforms to the Fraud Bill, which is the only bill with the scope for tackling the essential problems of cybercrime, according to Lawson.

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