Computer fraud and abuse act

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)

computer fraud and abuse act

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is a United States cybersecurity bill that was enacted in as an amendment to existing computer fraud law (


Conspiracies and attempts to commit these acts are also criminalized under the CFAA. Federal law provides for potential imprisonment of up to 10 years for a violation of the CFAA and up to twenty years for a second offense. The chart below summarizes the various subsections of Section CFAA and the corresponding sentences:. In some circumstances, the CFAA also provides for a civil cause of action if a plaintiff can demonstrate the following:. Civil CFAA actions are on the rise, and can often provide strategic litigation advantages over related claim such has misappropriation of trade secrets —for instance, by providing for federal subject matter jurisdiction. The CFAA is perhaps the most important—certainly the most comprehensive—federal statute governing computer crimes and violations. It is the primary federal statute protecting computers and digital information from unauthorized intrusions.

As technology advances, the use of the criminal law to regulate conduct using such technology also advances. Perceptions concerning the role of technology in both traditional and high-tech criminal conduct prompted Congress to enact the first federal computer crime law thirty years ago. Increases in computer availability and mainstream usage, however, have propelled government regulation of computer conduct into overdrive.
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The law prohibits accessing a computer without authorization, or in excess of authorization. The original bill was enacted in response to concern that computer-related crimes might go unpunished. The CFAA was written to extend existing tort law to intangible property , while, in theory, limiting federal jurisdiction to cases "with a compelling federal interest-i. In addition to amending a number of the provisions in the original section , the CFAA also criminalized additional computer-related acts. Provisions addressed the distribution of malicious code and denial of service attacks.

Hacker Lexicon: What Is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

CFAA was originally designed to protect computer systems operated by the U., The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, also known as the CFAA, is the federal anti-hacking statute that prohibits unauthorized access to computers and networks. In , the world was just emerging from its digital Dark Age.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)

When black hats around the world have nightmares about FBI agents breaking down the doors, it is the CFAA that is giving those nightmares substance. On the other hand, it has also been used to go after such apparently innocuous uses as browsing Facebook and checking personal email on company time, creating a fake MySpace user account, or downloading open source software tools. More disturbing for anyone in cybersecurity work is the trend of charging or suing security researchers for uncovering and disclosing system vulnerabilities. The cases of Andrew Auernheimer , Mike Lynn , and Zack Anderson , each either prosecuted or threatened with legal action under the auspices of the CFAA for disclosing or moving to disclose security holes in computer systems, have all had a chilling effect on the willingness and ability of researchers to secure public infrastructure and widely used computer systems. In any case, cybersecurity professionals need to be intimately familiar with the terms and uses of the CFAA, both to be aware of what actions could constitute crimes against the systems they are protecting, and to avoid running afoul of being charged with such crimes themselves in the course of their own work.

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was enacted in , as an amendment to the first federal computer fraud law, to address hacking. The CFAA prohibits intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or in excess of authorization, but fails to define what “without.
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