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Disgruntled Employees: The New Wave of Intellectual Property Offenders?

The technology renaissance has given private individuals and corporations alike the opportunity to use sophisticated technology in their everyday, personal and business lives. The amount of incredible ways that this technology may be utilized daily has made it an incredible resource, as well as a terrifying enemy depending, on who is manipulating the equipment. The rise of internal employees committing federal white collar crimes by hacking into their companies’ database has been thrust in the limelight after the incident with Edward Snowden.

Internal Hackers Have Cost Corporations $40 billion in Losses

According to an article published in Bloomberg’s Businessweek, within the last year, U.S. companies and organizations have suffered almost $40 billion in losses due to internal hackers – many being disgruntled ex-employees who originally had access to sensitive data and information and later retrieved the sensitive information after being fired. These internal hackers are even more potent than external hackers because they are more likely to know where the sensitive information lies within the system and how it may be encrypted. Many ex-employees turned hackers will often take advantage of a company’s entire network, accessing it either from their own personal email accounts or transferring data that they had stored in cloud-storage.

Federal Prosecution of Computer Crimes

There are, however, different laws, depending on whether one is being prosecuted locally or federally. According to the federal law, intent is the most important aspect of a prosecutor’s case. For there to be a conviction under federal law, the prosecutor must prove that the employee caused damage to the computer intentionally and not just negligently. This distinction may be extremely difficult to prove and generally the evidence will be mostly circumstantial. Also, to be prosecuted under federal law, it must be proven that a worker acted beyond the scope of his/her employment and he/she did not have the proper authorization to access the data. This is further complicated with the increased use of cloud storage service providers which are helpful in hiding computer crimes instigated by these disgruntled employees.

Florida’s Computer Crime Legislation

Florida’s computer crime legislation has recently been expanded upon to help incorporate the trends in new technology and any offenses relating to the abuse of these new trends. A summary of the extensive legislation attempts to prosecute any person who, without prior authorization, knowingly, and with full intent, sends a virus into or illegally accesses a computer system, network, software, or other programs with the intent to modify, destroy, or transfer (among other activities) data found within the system or network.

One of the most recent amendments to the legislation outlines the offense of audio or video surveillance whereby someone may manipulate a computer or other electronic device remotely. The amendment was created in response to new technology whereby hackers may remotely activate and turn on video cameras and microphones connected to laptops and other electronic devices for the purpose of surveillance.

Another amendment of the law seeks to protect those companies whose data has been hacked by ensuring that the information about the data is not revealed in the public record. The purpose is to protect trade secrets that have been hacked by both internal and external hackers and maintain their confidential nature throughout the investigation by law enforcement officers.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

Computer crime prosecutors must prove that an internal hacker acted beyond the scope of his/her crime and he/she acted with intent, rather than negligence. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney, like Kevin J. Kulik, will help you understand computer crime legislation and the legal procedure behind your case. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation.

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