Ticket sales platform Ticketmaster has been fined ten million dollars in the US because employees logged into competitor networks with stolen passwords. Ticketmaster is guilty of computer hacking, prosecutors say.
The fine is part of a settlement that Ticketmaster has reached with prosecutors in the country. Ticketmaster employees used stolen passwords to penetrate competitor Songkick’s systems. That company offers artists the possibility to sell concert tickets at an early stage prior to the official sale, and it creates an app that can track the progress of ticket sales.
A Songkick employee left the company in 2012 and joined Ticketmaster a year later. He also took passwords for the Songkick system with him. According to the indictment, Ticketmaster employees were said to have used them specifically to take large clients from Songkick, and to ‘squeeze’ the company. The employee used the credentials he still had during live demonstrations for managers, and actively advised them to “quickly create screen grabs of the system.”
In addition to login details, the employee also had access to web pages on which Songkick sold tickets. Those pages were not password protected, but could only be found by those who knew the url. The employee knew how its urls were generated. The employee had to explain that information to Ticketmaster employees. In this way, they kept an eye on the competitor for almost a year.
The fine is part of a settlement, and applies only to the violation of hacking into the competitor’s computer network. The fine amounts to a total of ten million dollars or 8.18 million euros. Ticketmaster must also set up a compliance and ethics program to prevent it from committing more computer trespasses in the future. If it does that again, it could still be prosecuted for more offenses, including fraud and computer crime for financial gain.