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LinkedIn Sues Hackers -- Whoever They Are

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By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on January 10, 2014 9:57 AM

LinkedIn, the popular website that essentially works like the Facebook for professionals, is suing hackers -- but doesn't know the identity of the hackers.

The hackers -- whoever they are -- created thousands of fake LinkedIn accounts, through the use of bots, in order to access member accounts. According to the LinkedIn complaint, once accessed, the hackers copied and extracted information from member profile pages. The "scraping" scheme occurred just below detectable limits, leading people to believe the hackers were aware of LinkedIn's security thresholds, reports Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Scraping Scheme

Beginning in May 2013, LinkedIn asserts that hackers began their scraping scheme, which LinkedIn claims "undermine[d] the integrity and effectiveness of LinkedIn's professional network by polluting it with thousands of fake member profiles." In addition, LinkedIn alleges that the hackers' actions "threaten[ed] to degrade the value of LinkedIn's Recruiter product," and caused "strain and disruption of its network servers and the expenditure of time and resources to investigate respond to this misconduct."

The Claims

On Monday, LinkedIn filed a complaint in federal court, in the Northern District of California, against 10 unknown "Does" alleging violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the California Penal Code § 502(c)(7), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Breach of Contract, Trespass and Misappropriation. LinkedIn is seeking injunctive relief, as well as restitution, damages and costs.

The Reality

You're probably wondering how LinkedIn intends to get relief if it doesn't even know who it's suing. Good question.

Here's the real deal: LinkedIn doesn't know the identity of the hackers, but knows that the hackers used "Amazon's cloud computing service to circumvent security measures," reports Ars Technica. By suing, LinkedIn is able to expedite discovery to try to find out the identity of the hackers -- a technique often used in cases like this by technology companies, reports Bloomberg. We'll have to wait and see if this strategy works.

Will this scraping scheme affect your decision to stay on LinkedIn? Let us know on FindLaw for Legal Professionals, or on the FindLaw LinkedIn page, since we're on the subject.

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