Zendesk Hacker Faces Federal Charges for Computer Fraud (18 United States Code 1030)

25-year-old Massachusetts man (name withheld in order to protect the privacy of the accused), is the hacker who managed to gain access to Twitter’s help desk company, Zendesk.  He was able to access Twitter clients’ ‘trouble tickets,’ obtain clients’ protected information, and to then take advantage of all this to reset passwords for at least 2 major companies, Jeep and “Company A” (an alias for an unnamed company involved in the case).  After that, he was able to post anything he wanted to on these companies Twitter accounts, including one post that “Company A” had been sold to their competition.  It’s not hard to imagine the ruckus his actions created; he’s also been in trouble for changing his own grades (and the grades of others), stealing credit card information, and hacking into the computer system of local police stations for which he has already been federally charged.  In the case involving Zendesk, he has been charged with violations of the “Computer Fraud and Abuse Act,” otherwise known as the CFAA (18 United States Code 1030): “damaging a computer for information.”

What he did, according to the feds, is to purposefully attempt to damage a ‘protected computer.’  The CFAA, passed in 1984, defines a ‘protected computer’ as any computer used for a financial institution or by the United States Government.  However, computers used for “interstate communication” are also covered under this Act.  He could face up to 10 years (or more) in federal prison and hefty fines.