Find the right lawyer now

Hacking Laws

Find a Local Criminal Lawyer near You

What Is Hacking?

Hacking may be defined as the unauthorized access or entry into computers, computer files, online storage mechanisms, and other computer-related technologies. This entry often results in a data breach. Usually, hacking is aimed at obtaining confidential information such as financial records, bank accounts, company client profiles, trade secrets, copyrighted information, and other similar types of information. A person who is proficient at hacking frequently engages in the activity is often labeled a “hacker”.

Many different crimes often involve some form of hacking. For instance, identity theft commonly occurs when a hacker gains access to a person’s personal identity files and information. One of the main difficulties with hacking is that it can be difficult to trace a hacker’s activities. However, there are many different programs and computer mechanisms designed to prevent and trace computer fraud and hacking activities.

What Are Some Examples of Hacking?

Hacking can be accomplished through many different means. These can include:

  • Stealing someone’s password or computer security information
  • Using computer programs or viruses to access computer files
  • Physically stealing computer hardware and accessing the information later
  • Using online mechanisms or other cyber crime techniques to gain entry into computer networks from a remote location
  • Accessing information stored in “cloud” storage devices
  • Tampering with wi-fi connections in order to gain access to local networks
  • Gaining password/security information through lawful means, then abusing those access privileges for personal use (this is common in embezzlement-related cases)
  • Altering computer codes or website information

Are There Any Legal Penalties for Hacking?

Hacking is a serious violation and can lead to serious legal consequences. Depending on the damage rendered or the amounts stolen, hacking is often classified as a misdemeanor or felony white collar crime. Criminal penalties can include jail or prison time as well as criminal fines and retribution. In addition, a person or company whose computer files have been hacked may often seek civil damages as well. This can result in monetary damages awards for lost business income or lost profits.

In particular, hacking computers owned or operated by the U.S. government can lead to severe legal penalties under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the Espionage Act, or other, similar laws.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me with Hacking Legal Issues?

Hacking laws enforce strict penalties for people caught engaging in hacking and other computer-related offenses. You may need to hire a criminal lawyer in your area if you need assistance with any type of hacking claim. Your attorney can provide legal research and guidance when it comes to hacking lawsuits. Hacking and other technology-based laws often change as technology evolves; however, your attorney can provide you with up-to-date information on new laws. Also, if you need to file a lawsuit and make an appearance in court, your lawyer can represent and guide you during the process.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 10-15-2015 05:07 PM PDT

Law Library Disclaimer
  • No fee to present your case
  • Choose from lawyers in your area
  • A 100% confidential service
What is LegalMatch?

We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.