Tech News

It’s Illegal to Share Your Passwords, Beware of Pokemon GO Malware… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 12-07-2016

It’s technically illegal to share your passwords, Pokemon GO catches malware, the state of PC sales, Warner Bros feel the wrath of the FTC, and how Google predicted Pokemon GO.


Sharing Passwords Is a Federal Crime

Sharing your passwords is now technically a crime, and a federal one at that. This is thanks to judges of the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal issuing an opinion that sharing passwords without authorization is a crime prosecutable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This is a federal law dealing with computer-related fraud.

This opinion formed part of the decision to uphold the case against David Nosal [PDF link], a former employee at Korn/Ferry International. He left the firm after being denied a promotion, but continued to access company databases using the login credentials of his assistant. The case hinged on the clause stating that a defendant “knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization”.

By opining that this is the case, the appeals court judges have technically turned millions of Americans into federal criminals. For example, signing into someone else’s Netflix or HBO GO account is now technically speaking a federal crime. As is logging into a relative’s Facebook account without their express permission.

We have used the word “technically” throughout because such innocent activities are highly unlikely to get you into any real trouble. For starters, the service in question would have to actively prosecute its users. Then, a judge and/or jury would have to convict you of this clearly terrible crime. So, it’s not going to happen, it’s just that it could if the letter of the law was followed without question.

Pokemon GO Malware Rears Its Ugly Head

As we discovered yesterday, Pokemon GO is a phenomenon at this juncture. It’s gained a foothold in the cultural psyche like no mobile game has since Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga. And yet the news stories surrounding Pokemon GO aren’t all positive. As with this one, all about Pokemon GO malware.


According to TechCrunch, security researchers at Proofpoint discovered the malicious Pokemon GO app uploaded as an APK file to an online storage locker. This malicious version of Pokemon GO mirrors the legitimate version in every way, except it also contains a remote access tool called Droidjack. If installed, this would give the malware authors control over a victim’s smartphone.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Pokemon GO malware has been found in the wild, because anything popular is almost immediately latched on by cybercriminals. However, the speed with which this has been developed and released online is both impressive and scary.

It should be noted that this hasn’t been uploaded to the Google Play Store, which is where most people would look for Pokemon GO. However, Nintendo hasn’t yet released Pokemon GO in Europe or Asia, so lots of people are looking for ways to get hold of the game through less official channels, hence the danger.

PC Sales Stabilize In the U.S.

The latest PC sales figures for Q2 2016 show a mix of good and bad news. Overall, in terms of worldwide shipments, the PC market has experienced another decline, with Gartner estimating a 5.2% drop, and IDC estimating a 4.5% drop. However, shipments in the U.S. have actually increased for the first time in over a year; by 1.4% or 4.9%, depending on who you believe.


Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, stated:

“The second and third quarter are typically PC buying season for the US public sectors. Positive second-quarter results could suggest healthy PC sales activities among the public sectors. There is an opportunity for a Windows 10 refresh among businesses, which we expect to see more toward the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2017.”

In terms of individual vendors, Lenovo retains the top spot, with HP in second and Dell in third. However, there’s a change in fourth place, with ASUS beating out Apple thanks to an impressive increase in sales. Apple is now in fifth place according to both Gartner and IDC. A new and improved MacBook Pro 5 Ways to Save Money When Buying a MacBook Looking to get a MacBook for cheap? Here are some useful tips for saving the most money when you buy a Mac laptop. Read More clearly cannot come soon enough for Apple and its fans.

Warner Bros Paid for Positive Reviews

The Federal Trade Commission has hauled Warner Bros. over the coals after finding that the publisher failed to disclose paid promotions. The publisher stands accused of paying prominent YouTubers to give Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor positive coverage without disclosing the nature of these deals.

Sponsored content Why Buzzfeed's Business Model is Doomed to Fail BuzzFeed's really popular now, but their business model ensures no one will trust or like them in the long term. Read More is pretty standard across the web these days, but it must always be labeled as such. The FTC found that Warner Bros. failed to properly advertise these paid promotions, which is tantamount to deceiving customers. Warner Bros. has been warned not to pull similar stunts in the future, and the FTC will be watching.


Jessica Rich, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said:

“Consumers have the right to know if reviewers are providing their own opinions or paid sales pitches. Companies like Warner Brothers need to be straight with consumers in their online ad campaigns.”

Among those prominent YouTube celebrities caught up in this mess is PewDiePie, who has millions of subscribers and therefore the power to generate colossal interest in particular titles. No wonder he’s one of the lucky YouTubers earning millions of dollars These YouTubers Are Earning Millions: What's Their Secret? Here is a list of the biggest channels on YouTube and how they got to be so popular. Who know, perhaps you'll learn the secret to making it big on YouTube. Read More every year.

Google Predicted Pokemon GO In 2014

And finally, on April 1 every year the internet is awash with April Fools’ Day jokes, some good, many bad. Google is the absolute master of April Fools’ Day, putting more effort into some of its jokes than other companies put into real press releases. And one particular Google April Fool has now been shown to be nothing less than genius.

One of Google’s April Fools’ Day jokes in 2014 April Fools Roundup, Apple Attacks Samsung, Mozilla CEO Controversy [Tech News Digest] April Fools, Apple versus Samsung, Mozilla CEO speaks out, Amazon adds Metacritic scores, Zuckerberg takes pay cut, Coursera on Android, and Kaspersky maps the Cyberwar. Read More was the Google Maps Pokemon Challenge. This challenged gamers to locate and capture Pokemon located around the world, which sounds an awful lot like Pokemon GO, which Nintendo launched two years later HummingBad Infects Android Smartphones, Nintendo Releases Pokemon GO... [Tech News Digest] New malware infects 10 million Android devices, Pokemon GO arrives on Android and iOS, Skype Meetings is aimed at small businesses, PlanetSide ends with a meteor shower, and the computer genius who sucks at Tetris. Read More .


OK, so Pokemon GO isn’t quite as ambitious as Google’s effort, but the core idea is pretty much identical. So, does Nintendo owe Google a massive debt of gratitude? Or even some cold, hard cash? Please give your verdict in the comments below.

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

Do you share your passwords with anyone? If so, to what end? Have you downloaded Pokemon GO yet? Have you bought a new PC in the past 12 months? If so, which brand did you choose and why? How do you feel about sponsored content? Did Google give Nintendo the idea for Pokemon GO?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credit: Christiaan Colen via Flickr

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  1. Anonymous
    July 13, 2016 at 2:55 am

    I am f*cking done with the CFAA, DRM and all those sh*t government agencies trying to restrict computer use. Those DVDs, that I PAID MONEY FOR, are illegal to watch on Linux or any other system that isn't mainstream. Imagine every flash drive you bought was permanently encrypted, and only Windows or Mac knew the password but they wouldn't tell you. Now you can understand my frustration. And the CFAA is so f*cked up because they don't prevent fraud and abuse, they make it a pain in the a** to use computers. What are these judges thinking?!?! They obviously know nothing, because they made brute forcing DVDs we OWN illegal, rooting OUR DEVICES illegal, and sharing OUR PASSWORDS FOR ACCOUNTS WE OWN illegal.

    • Anonymous
      July 13, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Your tax dollars at work. :P

  2. Anonymous
    July 12, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    "Sharing Passwords Is a Federal Crime"
    That is misleading. It is the Sharing of Passwords with intent to defraud that s a Federal Crime and that is what David Nosal did.

    "Without authorization" from whom? The password owner or the site being accessed with the borrowed password?

    Whose 'express permission? The password owner or the site being accessed with the borrowed password?

    What exactly constitutes "express permission"? The password owner telling someone that they can use the password? Or does the password owner have to provide a sworn, notarized affidavit?

  3. LaC
    July 12, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Pokemon Go is made by Niantic with Property owned by Nintendo with The Pokemon Company (GameFreak/Creatures Inc./Nintendo) permission.
    Niantic is the one that launched it, not nintendo. Just as well, Niantic USED to be owned by Google, so the Idea very well could have stemmed from this.