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Understanding the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Florida businesses are increasingly reliant on computers and the internet. There is no doubt that this technology can make businesses much more efficient and more dynamic. However, there are also potential downsides. Businesses face the threat of having their electronic information hacked or misused. This type of fraud has the potential to cause major damage to a company. In fact, a recent study from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that hacking and cybercrime cost American businesses over $100 billion each year. Fortunately, victimized businesses do have legal options. If your business has been the victim of hacking or computer fraud, an experienced Florida business fraud attorney can help.

What is Prohibited under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) was enacted in 1986 to protect against electronic fraud. The law provides both criminal and civil penalties for the perpetrators of computer fraud. If your business has been damaged by electronic fraud, you may be able to take civil action under the act. Often, the nature of computer based fraud makes it so that CFAA claims are filed concurrently with other types of legal action. For example, you may have a CFAA claim and you may also have a misappropriation of trade secrets claim or a Stored Communications Act claim. This is because the CFAA prohibits a wide variety of fraudulent or abusive actions. Specifically, prohibited actions include:

  • Compromising confidentiality through a computer;
  • Accessing electronic information in order to defraud;
  • Damaging computer hardware or software; and
  • Accessing information without authorization.

Pursuing a Civil CFAA Claim

In order to prevail in a civil CFAA claim, you must be able to prove that the defendant accessed information without permission. A key aspect of this requirement is that the defendant must have actually known, or should have known, that they were getting information without the required authorization. Further, once you establish that intentional and unauthorized access occurred, you must also be able to establish that your Florida business sustained real damage. As was mentioned previously, this damage can come in a number of forms. For example, your business may have been damaged by the unauthorized access of information which then lead to the misappreciation of a trade secret. If your company’s computers were fraudulently accessed by another party, whether an employee, former employee or a hacker, you need to act quickly. Your attorney can help you work to retain all of the relevant electronic evidence, so that you can effectively pursue a civil claim. Bad acting parties must be held accountable for their fraudulent or abusive actions. Further, your business deserve to be compensated for any damage that occurred.

Contact Our Business Fraud Attorneys Today

If your business is involved in any type of fraud lawsuit, you need to seek qualified legal protection as soon as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys today to set up a free review of your case. At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our team represents businesses throughout the West Palm Beach area, including in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

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