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What Legal Rights Does The Host of a Server Have For Prosecution of Users Crashing It?

Plymouth, IN |

If someone owns and/or hosts a private server for an online game (that is user-hosted server based), what legal rights does the server owner have for prosecution if a user on that server intentionally causes the server to crash (whether by third party, hacking, or ingame overflow)?

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Attorney answers 3


Probably none: federal law often controls interstate commerce.
See, website,

"Most cybercrimes tried in the United States have dealt with violation of purely federal statutory law; and therefore, they have been conducted in federal courts"

I stand ready to be corrected by more-learned colleagues, but in opine your only remedy, if any, liesvin civil law.


A number of the federal laws that make it a crime to engage in a denial of service attack also provide the owner of the hacked computer with the right to sue under civil law to recover its monetary damages. An interesting manual to read that explains the criminal computer hacking laws is here: .

Specifically, to prevail in a civil claim against a hacker under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act ("CFAA") you must prove (1) the knowing "transmission" of a "program, information, code, or command;" (2) the transmission is "to a protected computer;" and (3) the transmission causes intentional "damage without authorization." See18 U.S.C. §1030(a)(5)(A). If you prove these elements then you may "obtain compensatory damages and injunctive relief or other equitable relief." See 18 U.S.C. § 1030(g).

Obviously your own attorney with experience in cyberlaw must evaluate your particular situation if you intend to sue the hacker. Your other option is to simply report the incident to the FBI and let them handle it [though they may not and, in any event, you will very likely not recover any monetary damages (though sometimes the court orders the bad guy to pay some amount in "restitution")].

Also, your own attorney will explain to you that many states recognize that the tort of "trespass to chattels" occurs in the computer hacking context when (1) a person intentionally and without authorization interferes with a computer owner's possessory interest in its computer system and (2) the unauthorized use results in damage to the computer owner.

In short, "yes," the owner of a computer that has been hacked has the right to seek recovery from the hacker. But it's complicated and only an experienced cyberlawyer has the skills to help you. Which may be far more expensive than addressing the situation demands.

The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.


In addition to rights under the Federal Act, Indiana has several state laws that may give you a remedy, including computer tampering (Indiana Code 35-43-1-4) and computer trespass (Indiana Code 35-43-2-3). In addition, there may be claims for conversion, negligence, gross negligence, and trespass to chattels, but all these theories depend on the specific facts. Feel free to call if you'd like to discuss further.
Paul B. Overhauser
317 891-1500
Overhauser Law Offices

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