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Dark Reading Radio: Security Pros At Risk Of Being Criminalized

ICYMI: Check out Dark Reading Radio's recent broadcast and discussion about the pitfalls of new government efforts to fight bad hackers that could ultimately hurt the good guys.

The good news: the federal government is finally doing something about cybercrime. The bad news: the federal government is doing something about cybercrime.

Talk about unintended consequences: the Obama administration has embraced the need to tackle cyber security threats as well as online privacy concerns--a welcome and well-intentioned effort--but newly proposed legislation aimed at tightening the screws on black hat hackers could actually backfire, security experts say, and instead put white-hat hackers and security professionals in legal hot water.

Security researchers are concerned about proposed changes to the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act as well as to existing racketeering laws that could end up making the good guys' jobs illegal. For example, proposed language about authorized access that includes access "for purpose that the accesser knows is not authorized by the computer owner," could be misinterpreted in court to criminalize white-hat hacking operations.

Not only could vulnerability research be at risk of breaking the law in some cases, but everyday security practices such as penetration testing also could suffer under the tougher mandates. And a racketeering law crackdown could hurt good guys hanging out in an IRC chat room, for instance, and some security tools could be considered illegal under proposed changes to the law about electronic-intercepting devices.

The recent episode of Dark Reading Radio -- aired Wednesday, March 18  -- looks at these issues facing security pros. Our guests include Jeremiah Grossman, founder and interim CEO at WhiteHat Security, and Harley Geiger, advocacy director and senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology. Grossman and Geiger will explore whether the administration's legislative proposals can actually stop the bad guys and protect victim organizations as intended, and how they could inadvertently render penetration testing, vulnerability reporting, and other activity illegal.

Register now and to listen to the broadcast. Have questions for the guests? Let us know in the comments below.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio
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GonzSTL
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GonzSTL,
User Rank: Ninja
3/17/2015 | 4:02:38 PM
Re: Awesome guests & topic
"The good news: the federal government is finally doing something about cybercrime. The bad news: the federal government is doing something about cybercrime." That about sums it up! I have very little faith in government officials because too many of them operate in a vacuum, especially at the federal level. Many of them believe that simply because they are elected or appointed to their positions, they are instantly infallible in their decisions, and are "doing the right thing", and that they know pretty much all there is to know about any given subject. Sometimes it is because they believe their advisors, whom they themselves choose, are experts in the subject and beyond criticism. Take this particular legislation – clearly they did not consult with the real experts in the field, as we can see by the outcry. My question is who did they consult with when they crafted the proposed language? Was there even a solicitation of opinion? It is likely that crickets will answer those questions.
Kelly Jackson Higgins
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Kelly Jackson Higgins,
User Rank: Strategist
3/17/2015 | 11:44:27 AM
Re: Awesome guests & topic
This topic has a lot of security pros nervous, angry and confused about why they apparently weren't consulted in this policy-making process. I don't think all is lost by any means, though: there's still time to lobby and shape this thing. I look forward to hearding Jeremiah's thoughts here, and to see what's really happening on the Hill from Harley.
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Strategist
3/17/2015 | 11:40:32 AM
Awesome guests & topic
This is a fabulous lineup with Jeremiah Grossman (founder and interim CEO at WhiteHat Security) and Harley Geiger (advocacy director and senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology). Can't wait to hear what they have to say.  
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