Academic journal article Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal

From Internet Trolls to Seasoned Hackers: Protecting Our Financial Interests from Distributed-Denial-of-Service Attacks

Academic journal article Rutgers Computer & Technology Law Journal

From Internet Trolls to Seasoned Hackers: Protecting Our Financial Interests from Distributed-Denial-of-Service Attacks

Article excerpt

  I. INTRODUCTION                                                    300  II. BACKGROUND                                                      302      A. What is a DDoS attack?                                       302      B. Why is this important to consumers and businesses?           302      C. What is the difference between a virus or worm and a DDoS    303         attack? What do hackers aim to accomplish? III. THE COMPUTER FRAUD AND ABUSE ACT                                306      A. What is the CFAA?                                            306      B. Why is the current CFAA insufficient for DDoS Attacks?       307      C. How does the DOJ prosecute a DDoS attack under the CFAA?     308         1. What is Transmission or Access?                           308         2. How is damage proven?                                     309         3. What Harms are required for a violation to occur?         309            a. $5,000 loss                                            310            b. Medical Care                                           311            c. Physical Injury                                        311            d. Threat to Public Health and Safety                     311            e. Justice, National Defense, or National Security        312            f. Damage to ten or more protected computers              312      D. Who can prosecute a DDoS attack?                             312      E. What are the Current Penalties?                              313         1. What is considered a Misdemeanor?                         313         2. What is considered a felony?                              313         3. What happens when death or serious bodily injury occur?   314      F. How are juvenile offenders prosecuted?                       314         1. Definition of a Juvenile                                  314         2. Federal Jurisdiction                                      314      G. What is the current statute of limitations on the CFAA?      315  IV. BACKLASH AGAINST THE COMPUTER FRAUD AND ABUSE ACT               316      A. The Aaron Swartz Controversy                                 316      B. Addressing the Criticism                                     319   V. PROPOSING A NEW STATUTE TO AMEND THE CFAA: THE FEDERAL          320      INTERNET PROTECTION ACT ("FIPA" OR "ACT")  VI. CONCLUSION                                                      329 

I. INTRODUCTION

Imagine that you are about to pay the mortgage or electric bill, but first you need to access your bank account either electronically or in person. However, you have until the end of the day to pay the bills so you try to access your money early in the day, and then again in the afternoon. You are having issues accessing the money because the bank, where your money is deposited, is having issues with their system. Now the deadline has come and gone, and you did not pay your bills and expect to be assessed late fees. Unbeknownst to you, the reason you could not access your bank account is that a hacker somewhere in a different state or country decided to take down the bank's servers throughout the day.

This hacker did not even have to breach the bank's security system as all he had to do was flood the servers with an endless wave of fake access requests to a server--also known as a distributed denial of service--and overload the servers until the bank was unable to function. Now, you have been harmed because you were unable to access your money and face the unwelcome potential of being assessed late fees on your bills. Looking at the bigger picture, small and large businesses were not able to transact through the bank, while the bank had suffered economic harm and harm to its reputation. Thus, the flow of interstate and foreign commerce was halted.

The Internet is plagued with cyber-attacks that target financial institutions, small businesses, large conglomerates, and the average consumer. …

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