The Data Protection Act:
Computer systems can hold huge quantities of information and global networks are able to share and distribute this information around the world in seconds. In order to control this development and to protect people’s right to privacy, the Data Protection Act was introduced.
Out of the 8 basic principles of the Data Protection Act the following should be considered when creating computer systems:
- Any personal data on the computer system should be kept secure against loss, damage and unauthorised and unlawful processing.
- Any personal data on the computer system should not be kept longer than necessary.
- Any personal data on the computer system should be accurate and up-to-date
The Computer Misuse Act - 1990
Under this law, the following offences are classified as hacking and are illegal:
- Unauthorised access or attempted access to computer data. This covers any unauthorised access to any program or data held in a computer, even if it is just to look at the information. Unauthorised access to computer systems for the purpose of carrying out crimes - i.e. spying, blackmail, and fraud. This covers cases where someone access the system with the intention of using the information for a criminal purpose.
- Unauthorised changing of computer data - i.e. deleting or altering files
- This covers cases where the original information is altered in some way, either by deleting it or altering it in some way. It also covers spreading computer viruses
- When a computer system is created it should therefore incorporate security features such as data encryption, firewalls, user ID's and passwords to minimise the risk of hacking. Anti-virus software should also be installed.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act - 1989
Unauthorised copying of computer software is a criminal offence. This Act covers stealing software, using illegally copied software and manuals, and running purchased software on more machines than the license allows.
When a computer system is created all the software used should be fully licensed, including the operating system, utility software and application software.