The government has laid out plans for more serious punishments to combat the threat of cyber terrorism and cyber crime, during The Queen's speech on Wednesday.
Under new proposals, life sentences would be handed to cyber criminals who carry out attacks that "result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof."
The suggested serious crime bill would result in a revamp the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 and would also seek harsher punishments to these engaging in industrial espionage.
Article continues below
Cyber attacks carrying "a significant risk of severe economic or environmental damage or social disruption" would carry sentences of up to 14 years. The current legislation carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The proposals, which were written for the Queen by ministers have already come under criticism in some quarters, with claims laws are already in place to deal with cyber terrorists.
Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group, told The Guardian said: "If a supposed cyberterrorist endangers life or property, there are existing laws that can be used to prosecute them."
The speech comes as the government ramps its efforts to protect against cyber crime. Last year it set up the National Cyber Crime Unit, which pools the recourses of the Police's eCrime Unit and the Serious Organised Crime Agency's cyber team.
Last autumn the Joint Cyber Reserve initiative was also launched "in response to the growing cyber threat."