October 14, 1996 1:30 PM PDT

Clinton cracks down on hackers

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Hackers beware. President Bill Clinton has just signed an act that gives law enforcement more power to crack down on people who commit computer crimes.

The Economic Espionage Act, which strengthens protections against the theft or misuse of proprietary business information, specifically targets computer crimes, according to the White House press office.

The bill "strengthens protection for our national information infrastructure by eliminating gaps in the criminal laws, covering attacks against computers and the information they contain," Clinton said.

The act also protects business trade secrets from espionage and theft by punishing people who damage computers or the information they contain when they break in to them.

The signing of the act comes on the heels of several high-profile hacking reports. Most notable was the indictment two weeks ago of notorious hacker Kevin Mitnick, who allegedly broke in to multiple computer systems.

In addition, the government is still embarrassed over less-serious hacking stunts that shut down two government Web sites.

In August, the Justice Department found its site covered with swastikas and nude photos. In September, hackers broke into the Central Intelligence Agency's Web site, replacing pages with ones that spoofed the agency.


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