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UK MP seeks tougher penalties on DOS attacks

Bill to put two-year sentence on offence to be introduced

A UK MP will offer amendments next month to UK law in an attempt to raise the penalties for crimes committed over the internet, in particular targeting denial of service attackers.

Derek Wyatt, a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Internet Group (APIG), will introduce a motion in the House of Commons on April 5 to update the Computer Misuse Act (CMA). Part of his goal is to increase the prison time for hacking offenses from six months to two years, the APIG said.

The motion will also attempt to make denial of service (DOS) attacks an explicit offence. Many, though not all, DOS attacks are currently illegal under the CMA.

The APIG, which also includes MPs Richard Allan and Brian White, issued a report last year alerting the government to the urgent need for updating UK IT security legislation to address new threats to users. The government did not move on the report, and Wyatt's Computer Misuse Act 1990 (Amendment) Bill now seeks to turn the group's key recommendations into law.

Rasing hacking sentences to two years would have the added benefit of making the offence an extraditable one, bringing it into line with the European Convention on Cybercrime, the APIG said.

The amendments face a tough road if they are to become part of UK law, however. The bill revising the CMA will have to pass several votes in Parliament and a committee review, and then be approved by the House of Lords.

Email security company MessageLabs was among the vendors to offer its support for the amendments. The email security company has long supported moves to update the CMA, particularly the APIG's call for ISPs to develop better practices for monitoring DOS and hacking attacks.

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