Should It Be Illegal To Get Hacked?

from the might-be-a-bit-extreme dept

A few years back, we asked if it should be illegal to get hacked. In that case, we were referring to some fines that the FTC had handed out to companies that had leaked data to hackers. This raised some troubling questions -- as it's often difficult-to-impossible to stop your computer systems from getting hacked, and putting liability on the company could lead to some serious unintended consequences. Yet, at the same time, over the past few years, we've heard about large security breaches on a regular basis (thanks, in large part, to new disclosure laws) -- and often those breaches definitely seem to be due to negligence on the part of a corporate IT team that failed to lock down the data in any significant manner. That seems to be leading more people down the path of saying that companies should be liable for getting hacked.

For example, Slashdot points us to a blog post at InfoWorld, where it's suggested that companies should be criminally liable for leaking such data. I can certainly understand the sentiment, but it may go too far. Again, it's impossible to totally protect a system from getting hacked. Sooner or later there's always going to be some sort of leak. Increasing penalties could make companies take things more seriously -- especially in cases of gross negligence (which do seem all too common). But making the rules too strict can have serious negative unintended consequences as well, even to the point that some companies may stop accepting credit cards altogether, since the liability would just be too great. Would people be willing to give up the convenience of credit cards to protect their safety? From what we've seen, for most users the answer would be no. They know their credit cards are at risk, but they still use them because the benefit of the convenience still seems to outweigh the danger of the risk.

Filed Under: data leaks, hacked, legal, liabilitiy


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2008 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    not all hacking is due to a corporation's negligence. no matter how good your security is there is a hacker out there that is better.

    the only way to really keep things secure is to lock the computer in a sealed room with armed guards, require ID badges to approach, make sure the computer isn't connected to any network, and then search everyone who comes in for a camera, portable drive, cell phone, and just anything electronic at all, then search them on the way out to make sure they aren't taking anything with them.

    anything less than that and you are open to possible attacks. companies shouldn't be held responsible if they take reasonable precautions to safe-guard data.

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