Nick Akerman

Prior to private practice Nick served as a federal prosecutor. He was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he prosecuted a wide array of white collar criminal matters, including bank frauds, bankruptcy frauds, stock frauds, complex financial frauds, environmental and tax crimes. Nick was also an Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor with the Watergate Special Prosecution Force under Archibald Cox and Leon Jaworski.Nick has over 30 years of experience in helping clients respond to government investigations and prosecutions and assisting corporate clients prevent and respond to internal thefts and outside hackers. He is a nationally recognized expert on computer crime and the protection of competitively sensitive information and computer data. Nick regularly obtains injunctions for his clients under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in various federal courts around the country requiring computer thieves to return stolen computer data and prohibiting the dissemination of the data to competitors. He also guides clients in developing systems, policies and protocols to protect computer data.Nick speaks and writes regularly on protecting computer data, including in his regular computer data column for the National Law Journal. He has been a featured quoted expert on computer fraud and computer security issues in the New York Times, USA Today, the San Jose Mercury News, the Boston Globe, the St. Louis Dispatch, the Sacramento Bee, Forbes, ComputerWorld, CFO Magazine, CNET, CNET Japan, ZDNet, MSN, Internet Week and the Weekly Homeland Security Newsletter. His blog can be found at http://computerfraud.us.

GUEST BLOG: Phishing Scam, BYOD and Other Cybersecurity Tips

Guest Blogger Peter S. Vogel is a trial partner at Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP where he is Chair of the eDiscovery Group and the Internet, eCommerce, & Technology Team, and before practicing law he worked as a systems programmer, received a Masters in Computer Science, and taught graduate courses in information systems.   In addition to… Read More

New Tools for Companies Against Cybercrime

On January 2015, the Obama administration announced a series of proposals to strength­en the country’s response to cyberattacks­ including, most notably, specific amendments to the federal computer crime statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). These changes are not only significant to the cyber­ crime-fighting efforts of federal prosecutors, but also to private companies. This is because the CFAA allows compa­nies victimized by violations of the statute to bring civil actions against the perpetrators. 18 U.S.C. 1030(g). The CFAA, among other things, makes it a crime when an individual “accesses” a computer “without authorization or exceeds authorized access” to steal data.

To Catch an E-Thief — Under Federal Property Law

The fundamental shift for busi­nesses in the past 15 years from paper documents to computer data has forced the courts to decide whether intan­gible electronic data should enjoy the same legal protections as physical property.

Because of this shift, it is important to review the judicial response to the electronic-data issue in the context of a feder­al criminal statute, the National Stolen Property Act (NSPA), and common law conversion.

The NSPA makes it a felony for one who “transports, transmits, or transfers in interstate or foreign commerce any goods, wares, mer­chandise … of the value of $5,000 or more, knowing the same to have been stolen, converted or taken by fraud.” Conversion is the state civil cause of action for the theft of property.

SEC Playing  Bigger Role in Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity threats have reached a point where they cannot go ignored by any government agency,even the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Although an agency that is tasked with protecting investors is not one that typically comes to mind in the battle against cyberthreats,the SEC does maintain jurisdiction over cybersecurity issues for public companies, broker dealers and investment advisers, due to its responsibilities for ensuring the disclosure of material information, integrity of market systems and customer data protection.

Common Flaws in Computer Fraud Class Actions: Lawsuits claiming unauthorized use of smartphone tracking technology are lacking key elements.

A number of class actions have recently been filed in federal district courts, predicated, in part, on alleged violations of the federal computer crime statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, complaining of tracking software placed on iPhone and Android devices and unwanted text messages. Decisions in these cases have implications for filing a valid CFAA civil action.

A Weapon Against Hackers on the Home Front

Although headlines have focused on foreign cyberattacks, plenty are U.S.-based—and can be remedied. Over the past year the national press has repeatedly reported on the vulner­ability of our  intellectual property to nation-state hackers like China, which have reportedly accessed and stolen highly con­fidential data by entering computer systems through public websites. Lost in the headlines… Read More

The Conflicting Rulings on Employee Data Theft

In all jurisdictions the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. 1030, the federal computer crime statute, applies to former employees who steal data from the company computer, but in two federal circuits it does not apply when the theft occurs during employment. The difference in jurisdictions is significant to employers because the CFAA provides a civil remedy for damages and injunctive relief for a company that “suffers damage or loss” by reason of a violation of the CFAA. 18 U.S.C. 1030(g).
Last year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in U.S. v. Nosal, 676 F.3d 854 (9th Cir. 2012), disagreed with certain of its sister circuits and narrowly interpret-ed what it means to access the company computer “without authorization,” effec-tively eliminating a company’s ability in that jurisdiction to use the CFAA against current employees. This column will review the conflicting interpretations of the CFAA that distinguishes between current and former employees and the strategies and options companies can employ to navigate this conflict.

High Court May Rule on Computer Law Question

At issue is whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act applies to data theft by employees; the circuits are split. BY Nick Akerman On July 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit became the first circuit to adopt the Ninth Circuit’s holding in U.S. v. Nosal, 676 F.3d 854 (9th Cir. 2012),… Read More

No Password for You: California Enacts Social Media Privacy Laws Affecting Employers and Postsecondary Educational Institutions

By: Gary Gansle, Jessica Linehan, and Kurt Whitman Addressing a recent hot topic regarding the forced disclosure of social media passwords and/or content as part of the employment application process, California has promptly resolved the issue legislatively. Effective January 1, 2013, employers in California are generally prohibited from requiring applicants and employees to disclose or… Read More

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