Consequences of Piracy & Computer Hacking

by Timothy James

Computer pirates copy, distribute and use software created by others without permission. In contrast, computer hackers try to access computers without permission. Once hackers gain access, they may install harmful software, reveal confidential information or simply brag about their accomplishments to other hackers. Piracy and computer hacking carry serious consequences for everyone.

Costs to Victims

Piracy and hacking can cause considerable financial damage. Software piracy cost more than 63 billion dollars in 2011, and this number is rising. Piracy is a problem everywhere, but it is most serious in emerging economies. Hacking also costs companies considerable amounts of money. In 2011, companies that were victims of a breach incurred an average of $5.5 million in losses. Experts expect that the overall financial damage done by cybercriminals will grow by 10 percent each year.

Institutional Costs

Due to widespread problems with piracy and computer hacking, institutions must expend substantial resources safeguarding digital assets. For example, when hackers successfully breached Sony's PlayStation service, the company spent over $170 million addressing the issue. Hackers can even cause some services to shut down completely. Google, citing problems with extensive electronic abuse, shut down access to services offered through its translation technology. This cost everyone the opportunity to use those services.

International Tension

When the citizens of one country pirate software produced in a second country, the resulting tension can damage their relationship. For example, Americans argue that Chinese software piracy inflicts enormous damage on American companies. This assertion results in tension between the two nations and even inside China itself. Hacking also causes tension, as in the situation between American and Iran. Hackers from within Iran conduct electronic attacks on American financial institutions, while America hackers stand accused of sabotaging Iran's nuclear program.

Consequences for Hackers and Pirates

For perpetrators, piracy and computer hacking often leads to pursuit and incarceration. Some perpetrators remain in jail for multiple years. In addition, hackers and pirates also can face fines. Even if they succeed in defending themselves in court, they can face hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees. Their reputations may never fully recover. Through their actions, hackers and pirates may cause more harm themselves than to their victims.

About the Author

Timothy James is a business litigation attorney licensed to practice law in California. He is also a programmer and website developer specializing in C++, JavaScript/JQuery, HTML, CSS and several other languages. James holds a Juris Doctor, as well as a Bachelor of Science in planning and resource management. He has written about law, health, programming, culture, news and politics.

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