Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

Ransomware Attacks

The computers of many businesses around the globe were paralyzed and held hostage by the recent outbreak of WannaCry Ransom. The attack is considered to be the largest ransomware attack affecting the Internet by freezing hospitals and other firms out of critical data. With ransomware, hackers lock up a computer and demand money from the user or company. If one does not comply, they may lose sensitive or important data forever.

Any person or company can become a victim of ransomware and other forms of cybercrimes. If you are charged or arrested for committing a cybercrime, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney immediately because the outcomes of a conviction can be life-changing. There are many types of ransomware, which may include:

  • Scareware: The use of bogus security software and tech support fraud to scam people. An individual may receive a pop-up message stating that dangerous malware was detected in their system and they should pay money to get rid of it. Scareware may appear as legitimate antivirus programs and fool many people.

  • Screen Locker: A lock screen ransomware will freeze out your computer completely. Hackers will display a bogus FBI or US. Department of Justice seal suggesting that your computer has been involved in illegal activities and require you to pay a fine. The FBI of DOJ will only use legal methods to notify a person of illegal activity, and would not freeze a person out of their computer or demand payment.

  • Encrypting Ransomware: Hackers will steal your files, encrypt them, and demand a payment to decrypt and send them back.

Although cybercrime is a new and growing crime, Massachusetts is taking the problem seriously. The Commonwealth is aggressively punishing those who violate the law. The Commonwealth is involved in a Cyber Crime Division with the Attorney General's Office. The Cyber Crime Division is charged with investigating and prosecuting individuals involved in cybercrimes. Cybercrimes may involve business-related crimes, such as ransomware and hacking to other cybercrimes such as child exploitation, human trafficking, illegal file sharing, fraud, and other computer-related violations.

Punishment for Committing Cybercrimes in MA

In the Commonwealth, cybercrimes are punishable under M.G.L. c. 265, s. 43 and considered to be a form of stalking. The law prohibits stalking, and it can be further defined as acts or threats performed by phone, mail, fax machine, emails, or internet correspondences. If convicted, you could face years in prison.

Section 43." (a) Whoever (1) willfully and maliciously engages in a knowing pattern of conduct or series of acts over a period of time directed at a specific person which seriously alarms or annoys that person and would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and (2) makes a threat with the intent to place the person in imminent fear of death or bodily injury, shall be guilty of the crime of stalking and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for not more than 5 years or by a fine of not more than $1,000, or imprisonment in the house of correction for not more than 21/2 years or by both such fine and imprisonment. The conduct, acts or threats described in this subsection shall include, but not be limited to, conduct, acts or threats conducted by mail or by use of a telephonic or telecommunication device or electronic communication device including, but not limited to, any device that transfers signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications."

If you are charged with ransomware or other forms of cybercrime, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney. The consequences can be devastating and costly. Boston Criminal Defense Attorney, Edward Molari can provide you with legal advice that may help reduce the punishment or lessen the charge. He cares about your situation and provides personalized legal services in every case. Contact Attorney, Edward Molari at 617-942-1532 for a free consultation.