The Danger of Exposure to the Internet

By Cherry, Michael; Imwinkelried, Edward | Judicature, September/October 2007 | Go to article overview

The Danger of Exposure to the Internet

Cherry, Michael, Imwinkelried, Edward, Judicature

The lack of Internet security means that judges need to be more skeptical of computer data proffered in court.

We are entering an era of rampant error in Internet data. It may soon become next to impossible for the courts to determine the truth based on digital information. In the long term, America should implement a strategy of isolating key computer systems with sensitive data from the Internet. In the short term, the judiciary needs to adopt a more skeptical attitude toward computer data proffered in court and in particular permit extensive discovery concerning the possibility that the data has been compromised by alteration.

The hard reality is that if you want to keep computerized information safe and secure, the computer system should not be exposed to the Internet. Unfortunately, in practice that reality has been almost universally disregarded. Instead, public and private sector computer systems rely on Internet Surfware such as virus scanners, firewalls, spyware detectors, penetration detectors, and filters to minimize the risks associated with an Internet connection. Those security measures are helpful, but they are far from foolproof. Internet hacking is so pervasive and effective that in many cases it can defeat these measures. In the United States alone, despite the widespread use of such security measures, millions of false identifications are created every year. As a consequence, there are grave and growing doubts about the reliability of even the most critical data maintained in law enforcement and regulatory computer systems. Better solutions are available, but they will come at a cost.

Virtually every sector of American society has decided to rely increasingly on computer data. The very future of our society is tied to the accuracy and security of that data. For example, a steadily increasing number of statutes and regulations prescribe requirements for the accuracy and confidentiality of such data:

* The Sarbanes-Oxley Act mandates such requirements for certain financial data.

* Under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation, financial institutions must take steps to secure customer data from unauthorized access.

* The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) imposes security measures for the information that doctors, nurses, and other health care providers insert in patients' medical files.

* Under the FBI/INS/Homeland security program, fingerprint repositories used to identify criminals and terrorists must be secured from tampering.

* In medical trials, the accuracy of test results throughout product development has to be protected.

Like the average citizen, the typical participant in the legal system tends to have naïve faith in the effectiveness of the popular safeguards against Internet alteration. During both pretrial discovery and at trial, the focus is on the question of whether the evidence proffered correctly reflects the data on the computer. The texts and articles on e-discovery address such problems as acquiring diskettes printed out from the computer, learning the passwords to the electronic files, and gaining access to the hard drive. Today the "hot button" discovery issue is obtaining the metadata, the embedded information that reflects the deliberate changes to the electronic file. At trial, when the proponent lays a foundation to "authenticate" computer data under Federal Rule of Evidence 901, the understanding is that the proponent's obligation is to show that the exhibit accurately reflects the data in the computer. In the typical trial, there is little, if any, attention to the risk that Internet alteration may have rendered the data substantively inaccurate.

Today that is a huge risk. Every year computer thieves create 10 million false identifications1 in the United States. Those thefts are only the tip of the iceberg of alteration. The problem is mounting precisely because of the inadequacy of current strategies relying on Internet Surfware. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

The Danger of Exposure to the Internet


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.