The German government has approved new legislation which seeks to crack down on the sharp rise in computer attacks in Germany's public and private sectors. Although Germany, like the UK and the rest of Europe, already has computer crime legislation in place, the new law seeks to close more loopholes, ruling more categories of hacking as being illegal and punishable like any other crime.

The move was welcomed by web security specialist Finjan. "Hacker attacks on IT systems are constantly evolving to the point where legislation drawn up several years ago cannot always cope with the more ingenious attack methodologies," said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, Finjan's CTO. "Our quarterly web security trends report, for example, has identified the increasing use of code obfuscation (hiding) to avoid detection. This complex attack methodology is usually achieved using so-called hacker utilities, the possession of which was not illegal.

"The new legislation makes it illegal to acquire or download these utilities, as well as making it against the law to by-pass a system's IT security measures. This new German legislation is a significant step in making the web more secure."