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Web Security and Commerce by Gene Spafford, Simson Garfinkel

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Criminal Hazards That May Await You

Operating an Internet service provider or web site, or merely having networked computers on your premises, may also place you at risk for criminal prosecution if those machines are misused. This section is designed to acquaint you with some of the risks.

If You or One of Your Employees Is a Target of an Investigation . . .

If law enforcement officials believe that your computer system has been used by an employee to break into other computer systems, to transmit or store controlled information (trade secrets, child pornography, etc.), or to otherwise participate in some computer crime, you may find your computers impounded by a search warrant (criminal cases) or writ of seizure (civil cases). If you can document that your employee has had limited access to your systems, and if you present that information during the search, it may help limit the scope of the confiscation. However, you may still be in a position in which some of your equipment is confiscated as part of a legal search.

Local police or federal authorities can present a judge with a petition to grant a search warrant if they believe there is evidence to be found concerning a violation of a law. If the warrant is in order, the judge will almost always grant the search warrant. In the recent past, a few federal investigators and law enforcement personnel in some states have developed a poor reputation for heavy-handed and excessively broad searches. In part, this is because of the ...

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