Long overdue updates to the Computer Misuse Act (CMA) come into force across England and Wales today, increasing the penalties for hacking and clarifying the illegality of denial of service attacks.
But some experts are sceptical about whether the new legislation will have any impact.
The three main changes to the CMA were originally included in the Police and Justice Act of 2006 (PDF) and raised the maximum penalty for unauthorised access to a computer from five to 10 years in prison, as well as creating a new offence for the distribution of hacking tools.
The amendments also clarified that launching denial of service attacks is a criminal offence, whether done recklessly or with intent.
However, legal experts were cautious about whether increased sentences would have a positive impact.
"It's all very well increasing prison time but the prisons are full and people don't [serve] much time," said Charlotte Walker-Osborn, partner at law firm Eversheds.
"The law takes a while to catch up and the practice of it is key. It is not going to put strong offenders off."
Walker-Osborn added that the cross-jurisdictional nature of many online crimes will also make it difficult to prosecute offenders under these laws.
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