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Hacking Crimes Lead To Personal Injury


The Russian hacking scandal has dominated the news for the past several months; doesn’t it make you wonder just how vulnerable you are to computer hacking? The FBI is entrusted with protecting our nation’s infrastructure, which includes both public and private sector computer networks. Companies in this country are at risk of losing passwords and data that is sensitive to their operations; universities are in jeopardy of research secrets being revealed; everyday citizens are targets of financial fraud schemes and identity theft; and online predators stalk children every day. Ransomware is the latest threat of entities large and small. If you have experienced harm due to the hacking ventures of a known crook, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to help.

Penalties in Cyber Crimes

Hacking a computer is a serious offense, and can land offenders in prison. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement advises you immediately report computer crimes to local police or sheriff agencies, as well as to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Ultimately, your case may be forwarded to the federal level. Having a local personal injury attorney at your side can be helpful on this journey. 


Ransomware has reared its ugly head of late. Generally, it can be defined as a type of malware that attacks a computer in order to lock up the data contained there. Access is gained when unsuspecting victims open emails with attachments or website links that are infected. The malware encrypts folders and files that are present on the computer, as well as other computers that share the network. More sophisticated attacks are on the rise too, with cyber criminals using spear phishing emails and by seeding malicious codes into legitimate websites. Computers with unpatched software updates are in peril. By the time victims realize they’ve been attacked it is generally too late. The criminal is now demanding a ransom payment, with the threat of complete data loss fueling the victim’s decision making.

Identity Theft

Crooks are stealing identities with more sophistication than ever before. In fact, this type of crime doubled between 2010 and 2015. There are two federal laws dealing with this issue:

  • The Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act criminalizes the act of using, or even transferring a means of identification with the intent to engage in criminal activity;
  • The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act assigns penalties for aggravated identity theft, which relates to identity theft involving felonies, such as accessing Social Security benefits, immigration violations, and domestic terrorism.

Computer Fraud

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) declares that the intentional unauthorized access of a protected computer—any computer connected to the Internet– to obtain information is punishable by law if the conduct involves an interstate or foreign communication. A 1996 amendment to the Act allows for civil actions as well.

Making a Claim in a Civil Suit

When pursuing a civil action, the allegations must include damages, causes, violations of the Act and conduct described above. A guilty verdict could result in compensatory damages, and other relief. Examples of loss may include:

  • Lost advertising and sales from a website;
  • Damage assessment and restoration costs;
  • Employee wages associated with restoration;
  • Negative impacts to reputation.

Protecting Your Rights

If you have been the victim of a cybercrime, quick reporting is your best chance of resolving the issue. Additionally, the experienced personal injury team at the Law Offices of Robert W. Elton in Daytona Beach can ensure that your rights are protected. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.