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.

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

The 9th Circuit: Employees Are Free to Steal from the Company Computers

Yesterday the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion holding that limiting an employee’s access to the company computers solely for business purposes, i.e. not stealing the data for a competitor, cannot be the predicate for a violation of the federal computer crime statute, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), Title 18, U.S. C. § 1030. U.S. v. Nosal, 2012 WL 1176119 (9th Cir. April 10, 2012). The CFAA makes it a crime in various instances to access a computer “without authorization” or to have “exceeded authorized access” to obtain information from the computer and permits those, including companies, who are victims of violations of the statute to bring a civil action against the perpetrators. Acknowledging that its decision conflicts with the 5th, 7th and 11th Circuits, there is a good chance the Supreme Court will have the final say on this issue if the Department of Justice decides to appeal. As the dissent pointed out, this decision is counter to the common sense notion that a “bank teller is entitled to access a bank’s money for legitimate purposes, but not to take the bank’s money for himself.”

Company computer policies risk becoming obsolete — Policies must reflect new laws and court decisions on data theft, social networking and cloud computing.

Have your client companies’ policies kept
pace with changes in the law affecting
computer technology? New statutes and court
decisions relating to computer technology
affect every business. Many companies
overlook opportunities to respond to these
new laws by adopting robust policies to
take advantage of the protections they
afford and to minimize the risks they pose.
This article will review three critical areas
of computer technology that should be
addressed by company policies: theft of data,
social networking and cloud computing.

Hacking, Malware, and Social Engineering—Definitions of and Statistics about Cyber Threats Contributing to Breaches

This article was first published on IRMI.com and is reproduced with permission. Copyright 2012, International Risk Management Institute, Inc As breaches continue to occur and affected organizations determine whether and how to disclose these breaches, breaches and disclosure continue to be the subject of reports as well as media, legislative, and regulatory attention. See, for… Read More

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