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Technology & Innovation

Should Companies Fight Back Against Hackers?

Retaliation is illegal in the US, but businesses and organizations tired of being vulnerable to cyberattacks are reviewing what counterattack options they do have.

What’s the Latest Development?

When it comes to cyberattacks that shut down business servers and steal valuable data, some companies want to take “an eye for an eye” approach, launching counterattacks that could involve malware or covert shutdowns of hackers’ computers. Such activity is illegal in the US, even if it’s for self-defense, but various sectors are discussing ways to fight back that remain within the law. In addition to protecting data in-house, security experts say that the best weapon continues to be criminal prosecution, although some believe the government could do more to enable companies to go after hackers.

What’s the Big Idea?

According to a survey, the average company of 1,000 workers or more will spend almost $9 million annually on cybersecurity efforts ranging from detection to cleanup. Large companies like Microsoft have the cash to go after criminals, but smaller companies are all but defenseless. Some analysts point to a provision in the Constitution, formerly meant for pirate attacks of merchant ships, that could be used to give private companies the authorization to counterattack. One expert, Patrick Lin, says, “[I]t would have to be a desperate situation [to authorize an attack], but we may be in that situation now.”

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