Federal courts continue to shape the landscape for cyberfraud coverage. The recent spate of cases focus on the scope of coverage for “phishing” or “spoofing” attacks. Recent cases focus on these attacks for two reasons: they are slightly different than a classic system intrusion or hack, and these forms of invasion have grown to become the major threat that many companies face (see Matthews, Lee, “Homeland Security Chief Cites Phishing As Top Hacking Threat,” Forbes, Nov. 29, 2016). It is not surprising to see an increase in court decisions dealing with the topic given this reality.
Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by posing as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Similarly, spoofing is when a hacker uses a computer program to create a false email that appears to be from a trusted source such as a CEO or CFO. Typically, these scams will involve an insider, such as the CFO, receiving an email from another insider, such as the CEO, authorizing a wire transfer to specific bank account. The crooks then take the money out of the account after the wire transfer.
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