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Is It "Hacking" When You Guess Someone's Computer Password?

On Behalf of The Foley Law Firm | May 1, 2021
Colorado Springs Medical Malpractice Attorneys | T: 719-757-1182

People are constantly advised to pick unique passwords for their digital tools and online accounts that are nearly impossible to guess. However, doing so also makes it harder to remember those passwords. As a result, assuming they’ll never have an issue, people often pick passwords that are predictable (and easier to remember).

You know that computer hacking is illegal, but you imagine that it’s a complex activity requiring high-level technology and software systems. Not just anyone can do it. But does it count as hacking if you guess someone else’s password and use it to log into their computer or an online account?

A good guess doesn't make your action any less illegal

Any unauthorized access to a computer, smartphone or online account is illegal, even if you did nothing more sophisticated than make a few guesses. It is definitely the simplest form of "hacking," but it still counts -- even though it looks nothing like what you may see in the movies.

Additionally, courts have ruled that using passwords to access online accounts that are not your own may be illegal in almost all cases -- even when the other person told you that password. The only person allowed to use that password to access their account is the person who set it up.

Taking computer crimes seriously

One interesting thing about computer crimes is that people often do not take them seriously while committing them. Simply look at the widespread use of illegally downloaded media. You may not think you’re doing anything wrong by guessing someone’s password, but things could get very serious if the authorities get involved. That’s when you need to know what legal options you have for your defense.

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