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What is ransomware in the eyes of the legal system?

As the use of technology expands into every facet of our daily lives, more and more opportunities for brushes with the law arise. Yet, due to the complexities of the Internet and the latest technology, it can be difficult for authorities to track down those they believe are responsible for Internet and computer crimes. Therefore, innocent Californians may find themselves facing allegations of wrongdoing when they least expect it.

For this reason, it is wise for Californians to be aware of the different types of internet crimes. One offense that has seen an uptick in recent months is the use of ransomware. Ransomware typically causes a computer owned by an individual, business, or other institution to freeze, and threatens that it will remain so until a fee is paid. According to the FBI, many times ransomware falsely identifies itself as part of a law enforcement agency, therefore defrauding people and businesses of money.

The FBI and other investigative agencies have taken a hard line against the use of ransomware. However, as this is a relatively new issue, so the investigative procedures may not be as refined as they should be. Thus, those accused of committing a computer or Internet crime, whether involving ransomware or any other type of malicious software, should do everything they can to protect their legal rights.

Protecting one's legal rights is something that involves how the law operates inside and outside the courtroom. For example, it may be imperative to know if one's home and computer were legally searched or if authorities overstepped their bounds. Also, questioning expert witnesses may also become extremely important. With so many issues to handle during a legal case, those facing criminal charges in this realm should consider consulting with an experienced legal professional.

Source: FBI, "Ransomware on the Rise," accessed on May 22, 2015

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