The Swedish government said on Thursday it planned to crack down on hackers, at a time when the sex assault allegations against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has made the country a target of repeated cyber attacks.

"The government decided today to extend the remit of the cyber crime committee to include tougher penalties for large-scale data theft and other types of attacks against computer systems," the ministry of justice said in a statement.

"The range of penalties for data theft hasn't changed since the laws were enacted almost 30 years ago," it said.

The ministry said "there are signs that the trend is towards more dangerous and important attacks against computer systems, for example the data intrusion or the attacks that have inundated the servers of banks and authorities."

The new laws will not come into force for some time, since the committee tasked with making the changes is to deliver its findings to the government on June 3 next year.

Sweden has been hit by a wave of Internet attacks starting this summer, temporarily shutting down some of the country's most visited sites. Swedish police believes there may be a link to the Assange case.

Internet users claiming to belong to the group Anonymous have also blamed the attacks on a police raid earlier this month against Internet service provider PeRiQuito (PRQ), which has hosted several controversial sites.