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Using Worker’s Password Illegal, 9th Circuit Says

Using Worker’s Password Illegal, 9th Circuit Says

USING WORKER’S PASSWORD TO ACCESS INFO AT FORMER WORKPLACE IS ILLEGAL HACKING, 9TH CIRCUIT SAYS

From article by Debra Assens Weiss,
Posted Jul 06, 2016 02:54 PMCDT

ABA Journal Daily Newsletter

A federal appeals court has ruled that using a former assistant’s password to access information from a previous employer is hacking that is banned by the Computer Fraud
and Abuse Act.
The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Tues day that former Korn/Ferry employee David Nosal violated the law when he used the password to collect information for his new, competing company, The court was interpreting a section of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that imposes criminal penalties on anyone
who, with an intent to defraud, “accesses a protected computer without authorization.”

Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote the majority decision upholding Nosal’s 366-day sentence for violating the law. Once permission to access a computer is affirmatively
revoked, she said, a computer user “cannot sidestep the statute by going through the back door and accessing a computer through a third party.”

This decision applies to Nosal’s access to the Korn/Ferry computers using his former executive assistant’s password after his own credentials were revoked. “Nosal knowingly and with intent to defraud Korn/Ferry blatantly circumvented the revocation of his computer system access,” the majority opinion said. “This access falls squarely
within the CFAA’s prohibition on access ‘without authorization.’”