How to prevent computer misuse

The Computer Misuse Act (1990)

This was passed by Parliament and made three new offences:

  1. accessing computer material without permission, eg looking at someone else's files
  2. accessing computer material without permission with intent to commit further criminal offences, eg hacking into the bank's computer and wanting to increase the amount in your account
  3. altering computer data without permission, eg writing a virus to destroy someone else's data, or actually changing the money in an account

The Data Protection Act

This was introduced to regulate personal data. This helps to provide protection against the abuse of personal information. Find out more about the Data Protection Act.

Copyright law

This provides protection to the owners of the copyright and covers the copying of written, musical, or film works using computers. FAST is the industry body which is against software theft. You can find out more about it in the Copyright section.

There have been cases where laws such as Copyright have been used to crack down on file sharing websites or individuals who store and illegally distribute copyrighted material, eg music. There is a massive problem with many people around the world obtaining copyrighted material illegally.

Close down chat rooms

Some chat rooms have been closed down due to abuses, especially where children are vulnerable. Some have moderators who help to prevent abuses. Advice about sensible use is important; especially to never give personal contact details or arrange meetings without extreme caution.

Site moderator controlling online communications between fans and rock starsSite moderator controlling online communications between fans and rock stars

Reduce email spamming

This may be reduced by:

  • never replying to anonymous emails
  • setting filters on email accounts
  • reporting spammers to ISPs, who are beginning to get together to blacklist email abusers
  • governments passing laws to punish persistent spammers with heavy fines

Regular backups and security

Just making something illegal or setting up regulations does not stop it happening. Responsible computer users need to take reasonable steps to keep their data safe. This includes regular backups and sufficient security with passwords.

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