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.