In 2015, stories about corporate data breaches where customers’ personal information were lost or stolen dominated headlines. As we turn to 2016, it appears that data hacks may continue despite business’ best efforts.
While many hacks are perpetrated by cyber-criminals, they could also be a form of corporate espionage. An example of this could be found with the ongoing legal action between ride service rivals Uber and Lyft.
According to a businessinsurance.com article, Uber filed suit in February 2015 seeking to unmask the perpetrator in a hack that led to the unauthorized download of 50,000 of its drivers and their licenses. Essentially, the hack was traced to an unidentified person with a Comcast IP address. After several months of investigation, it has been learned that the IP address was assigned to the chief technology officer of Lyft, Uber’s rival in the ride service industry.
A Lyft spokesperson said that there is no evidence indicating that the company’s technology chief, or any other Lyft employee was responsible for downloading Uber’s proprietary information.
Nevertheless, the story exemplifies the need for experienced legal counsel when accusations are lodged regarding corporate espionage or violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Lawsuits over electronic data can be very expensive and disruptive to a business. Considering that Uber is worth $51 billion and Lyft is worth (only) $2 billion, both companies can presumably afford to litigate the matter to a conclusion.
However, not all businesses that are accused of cyber violations can afford protracted court battles. So taking the proper steps to investigate and resolve these allegations before they become full-blown lawsuits is critical.