Cyber Law

Ethics & Legal Cyber Law Copyright

Copyright law applies to online material just as it does to offline material, assuming the prerequisites for copyright protection are met. Thus, if you use someone else’s work, you could be liable for what is called “copyright infringement.” Copyright infringement exists if you exercise one or more of the exclusive rights held by a copyright owner. A copyright owner enjoys the following exclusive rights:

  • to reproduce the work in copies
  • to prepare derivative works based upon the work
  • to distribute copies of the work to the public
  • to perform the work
  • to display the copyrighted work
  • and, in the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission

Ethics & Legal – Cyber Law Hacking

Definition of Hacking

Hacking is broadly defined as the act of breaking into a computer system. Hacking isn’t always a crime as “ethical hacking” occurs when a hacker is legally permitted to exploit security networks. In other words, it’s when a hacker has the appropriate consent or authorization. However, hacking crosses the criminal line when a hacker accesses someone’s computer system without such consent or authority.

For instance, if an individual acts without consent or any lawful authorization (i.e. from law enforcement agency and/or a court order) and penetrates a business’ firewall to access private servers and cloud storage systems or uses phishing to install malware to desktop and laptop computers with the intent to monitor communications and activities, they can be charged with a crime.

Federal Hacking Laws

There are several federal laws that address hacking, including:

  • The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA);
  • The Stored Communications Act (SCA);
  • The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA); and
  • The Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA).

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is the leading federal anti-hacking legislation that prohibits unauthorized access to another’s computer system. Although the law was originally meant to protect the computer systems of U.S. government entities and financial institutions, the scope of the Act expanded with amendments to include practically any computer in the country (including devices such as servers, desktops, laptops, cellphones, and tablets).

Criminal Penalties Under the CFAA

The chart below provides select examples of violations of the CFAA and the penalties.

OffensePenalties (Prison Sentence)
Obtaining National Security Information10 years; 20 years maximum for a second conviction.
Accessing a Computer to Defraud and Obtain Value5 years; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.
Accessing a Computer and Obtaining Information1-5 years; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.1-10 years; 20 years maximum for a second conviction.
Intentionally Damaging by Knowing Transmission1-10 years; 20 years maximum for a second conviction.
Extortion Involving Computers5 years; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.
Trafficking in Passwords1 year; 10 years maximum for a second conviction.

Roles and Responsibilities of an Ethical Hacker

Ethical Hackers must follow certain guidelines in order to perform hacking legally. A good hacker knows his or her responsibility and adheres to all of the ethical guidelines. Here are the most important rules of Ethical Hacking:

  • An ethical hacker must seek authorization from the organization that owns the system. Hackers should obtain complete approval before performing any security assessment on the system or network.
  • Determine the scope of their assessment and make known their plan to the organization.
  • Report any security breaches and vulnerabilities found in the system or network.
  • Keep their discoveries confidential. As their purpose is to secure the system or network, ethical hackers should agree to and respect their non-disclosure agreement.
  • Erase all traces of the hack after checking the system for any vulnerability. It prevents malicious hackers from entering the system through the identified loopholes.,on%20the%20system%20or%20network.

Life Long Impacts of Being a Felon

Loss Of Rights

While each state may have slightly different penalties, there are some common rights that are almost always taken away. In California, convicted felons will lose the following rights:

  • Voting rights
  • Ability to travel abroad
  • Gun ownership
  • Jury service
  • Employment in certain fields
  • Public assistance and housing
  • Parental rights

The Effect on a Professional License

A felony conviction in the State of California can include the suspension, denial, or revocation of a professional or business license in the State of California. This, however, will generally be only if the conviction is related to the functions, qualifications, or the duties required for the profession or business.

The following is a limited list of professions that could be affected by a felony conviction in the State of California.

  • A nurse;
  • A doctor;
  • A dentist;
  • Physical therapist;
  • Social worker;
  • A pharmacist;
  • A teacher;
  • Lawyer; or
  • A real estate agent.

Those who own a business and are seeking to obtain an alcoholic beverage license may be denied or otherwise affected by prior felony convictions

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