Home DOJ Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section The Anxieties Over Hacking Government Computers

The Anxieties Over Hacking Government Computers

The Anxieties Over Hacking Government Computers

Cyber crimes against the government are normally committed when a criminal tries hacking into a government computer without prior consent in order to obtain classified information. The consequences of a hacker successfully hacking into the government's computers would be quite severe and are indicative of the dangers of cyberterrorism. One of the biggest worries of a crime such as this is that the criminal is hacking into an unauthorized account to obtain information as a means to commit cyberterrorism.

Cyberterrorism is a tactic involving criminals hacking into the government's computer system as a means to commit harm not only on the Internet, but also to bring destruction into the physical world as well. Cyberterrorism can be carried out when a terrorist tries to disrupt signals on government computers. Enabling certain technical functions that would normally be performed in specific circumstances causes serious security and safety breaches.

For example, scientists in Antarctica were stationed at a specialized facility when a cyberterrorist attempted to shut down their support system to bring potential harm to the scientists and their life functions.  Aside from this reported story, there have also been other cyberterrorist cases that involve the criminal hacking into accounts to disrupt plane signals. That would certainly bring real world harm to the pilots and create chaos at military airbases.

Cyberterrorists can do this by physically hacking into the government's mainframe or by using a sophisticated bug. Cyberterrorism can cause physical harm, as well as financial harm to the government, causing damage to the country's economy. Many times, cyberterrorism is often associated with denial of services attacks and information warfare in that these attacks involve computers, obtaining information, and causing harm using the computer as a tool to do so.

Another general concern regarding criminal hacking within government computers is the threat of spying or espionage. This can occur if either a trusted source or an unknown trespasser makes his way into the government computer's mainframe in an attempt to collect information for use against the government, commit treason, or to blackmail government officials. The other main threat is that an enemy country will hack into an opposing country’s government computer mainframe in order to determine strategic moves.