What is Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is a law passed by the U.S. Congress in 1986 to reduce the hacking and cracking of government or other sensitive institutional computer systems. The law states that anyone engaged in any of the following ranges from fines to imprisonment. Accessing information without permission to obtain information related to national defense, foreign relations, or other restricted data. Unauthorized access to a computer and obtain information contained in financial records or from a financial institution. Accesses a US government computer without authorization. Accesses a federal computer without authorization and with the intent to cheat.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act prohibits the use of federal and certain financial institution computers beyond the limits of the authorization given to the person. The main purpose of this is to eliminate or at least reduce cases of fraud and abuse when it comes to federally protected computers. Some believe that the CAFA's powers are too far-reaching. In particular, there is discussion about what constitutes 'authorized' access as there are precedents that have defined this very broadly. Protected computers include computers that are used only by the US government or a financial institution, and computers that are used for (or affect) foreign trade or interstate communications or trade. This includes computers in locations outside of the United States.