Wednesday 6th January 2021

BLOG: Ticketmaster To Pay $10 Million Fine Over Hacking Scandal

The recent news surrounding Ticketmaster has caused some controversy. Ticketmaster has agreed to pay a $10 million fine after being charged with illegally accessing computer systems of a rival company on many occasions, between 2013 and 2015 in order to “cut the company off at the knees.” This fine was set in place to avoid prosecution under the US Computer Fraud And Abuse Act.   

Ticketmaster used stolen information to gain an advantage over CrowdSurge by hiring a former employee to break into its tools and gain insight into the firm’s operations. The employees in question illegally and repeatedly accessed a competitor’s computers without authorisation using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence as a “business tactic.”  

These allegations were first made public knowledge by Variety in 2017 after CrowdSurge sued Live Nation for antitrust violations, accusing Ticketmaster of accessing confidential business plans, contracts, client lists, and credentials of CrowdSurge tools.  

According to court documents released on December 30, after being hired by Live Nation in 2013, Stephen Mead, who was previously employed by CrowdSurge as a general manager of U.S. operations, shared with Zeeshan Zaidi, the former head of Ticketmaster’s artist services division, and another Ticketmaster employee the passwords to Artist Toolbox, an app that provided real-time data about tickets sold through the victim company.  

Mead is accused of password theft and providing “internal and confidential financial documents” retained from his former employer, as well as URLs for draft ticketing web pages to learn which artists planned to use CrowdSurge to sell tickets and “dissuade” them from doing so.  

Both Individuals behind this scheme, Mead, and Zaidi are no longer employed by Ticketmaster. Ticketmaster previously settled a lawsuit brought by Songkick in 2018 by agreeing to pay the company’s owners $110 million and acquire its remaining intellectual property not sold to WMG for an undisclosed amount.  

It was alleged that Zaidi had encouraged Mead to use his knowledge of his former employee’s systems to hack into its servers to get confidential information about its products and in particular its work developing pre-sale and anti-touting ticketing services.  

The company will also be required to make an annual report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office over the next three years to ensure compliance.   

Adjacent to paying the fine, Ticketmaster has also allegedly agreed to introduce a “compliance and ethics programme designed to prevent and detect violations” of computer-hacking laws as well as to prohibit the “unauthorised and unlawful acquisition of confidential information belonging to competitors”.  

We discuss this topic further in our blog post ‘You’re hired!’ The rise of corporate hack-for-hire groups unpacking the threat from hack-for-hire groups operating on behalf of corporate clients.    

We reassure ourselves that corporate cyber-espionage is comparatively rare because, in well-regulated environments, the cost-benefit or risk-to-reward profile for engaging in such activity makes it largely unattractive. To read more, go to 

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