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From: InfoSec News (isnc4i.org)
Date: Wed Apr 17 2002 - 02:41:08 CDT
[In a related note, Hungarian hackers will soon be seeking visas for
residency in Argentina. :) - WK]
by Mr. Robert Smyth
15th Apr 2002
New amendments to Hungary's laws on internet crime have drawn
criticism from industry players for not distinguishing enough between
minor and major crimes.
"The law is strict in places it shouldn't be so strict," said Dániel
Nemes, CEO of internet firm telnet Hungary Rt, highlighting the fact
that the amendments to Hungary's Criminal Code, which are effective
from April 1, outlaw any attempt at hacking, even if no damage is
"[Deliberate hacking by the company] can be good for boosting a
company's IT security. It's good to experiment to show systems can be
protected," he said.
"The law goes a bit too far. I don't think a prison sentence for
changing two words is what we need," agreed András Pogány, COO of
internet services firm Kirowski Kft.
Nemes said the new legal provisions fail to provide stronger penalties
for hacking that causes real damage, for example making a site
inaccessible to users (known as "denial of service"). He said this
issue will call for more lawmaking in the near future.
However, a lawyer active in the field praised the amendments. "The
changes represent a big step towards EU standards, bringing Hungary's
internet law almost fully up to the current standard of EU internet
law," said Zoltán Ormós, internet and telecom lawyer at Ormós Law
Office. His office is the Hungarian legal representative of the
Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international interest group
established by software houses for fighting software piracy.
Ormós welcomed the fact that the scope of criminally punishable
activities is much wider and sanctions are more severe than before.
"Before this amendment, a hacker had to cause actual damage before a
crime could be considered to have been committed. Now the very act of
hacking is illegal," he said.
Besides hacking, the amendments criminalize illegal system
penetration, manipulation of data and the intentional spreading of
computer viruses. Like hacking, these crimes will be punishable by
prison sentences of up to three years, even if they did not cause any
Nemes said the provisions on viruses are not wide and deep enough.
Pogány added a further complaint: that the amendments lack practical
"The question is the capability of enforcing it. I don't think the
police are prepared. It's very difficult to prove such crimes beyond
doubt, as clever hackers can cover their tracks," he said. Serious
It is generally agreed that it is almost impossible to quantify the
extent of damage of internet-related crime.
"I don't think anyone has numbers on how much is lost. Most cybercrime
goes unreported because of PR considerations," said Nemes. "It could
be a very high figure, taking into account how online banks and
brokerages can be seriously disrupted by denial of service."
Pogány of Kirowski argued that hacking does not cost the Hungarian
internet industry a great amount of money, except in a few cases.
"It is mainly an annoyance for most of us, while [its effect on]
banking is perhaps something we will never know about," he said. He
added that the potential damage is limited by the fact that payment
over the internet is not popular in Hungary.
Csilla Kövesdi, spokeswoman for Budapest Bank Rt, said the bank has
never been hacked.
"We have never had a hacking issue, but we put major resources into
protecting ourselves," she said. She added that a case in which Ft 700
million (E2.9 million) was stolen from the bank by one of its
customers was a card-related crime, despite some press reports that it
was a result of hacking.
The amendments were welcomed by Robert Braun, senior vice president of
Index.hu Rt, the operator of Hungary's second biggest portal,
"It's good there are strong and well-defined laws," he said. He added
that, while his own portal has been a victim of hacking, it suffered
no financial losses from this.
"The only reason to hack a media site is to show the hacker's ability,
as there is no private user data that can be taken," he said.
Another area where the amendments make the law tougher is child
"The amendments make all such activity much more serious," Ormós said.
"Now, the storing of child porn on a PC can lead to three years in
prison. Previously, action could only be taken if child pornography
was [distributed] to other users."
Ormós also said the amendments call for the establishment of a new
lobby group, to be called the Internet Security Alliance, which will
gather major IT industry players. He said the aim of the alliance is
to throw more light on the importance of internet security, adding
that the alliance will file some criminal complaints with the police
as test cases.
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