Computer Security and Ethics


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The study of ethics entails the subject of study, which deals with differentiating what is wrong and what is right. The proponents of ethic will try to legitimize their moral decisions based on the moral standards of hypotheses, which that try to encompass our instincts concerning the right or wrong. In fact, there are hypothetical methodologies, which are popular in the aspects of moral, including deontology and consequentialism. The approach under consequentialism indicates that the events are not adequate or good to the point of having bad consequences. On the other hand, the approach unders deontology anticipates that individuals should exhibit the moral obligations, which should be autonomous regardless of the outcome of their actions whether good or bad. Therefore, the moral standards may determine legislation. However, the perception is that in the concept of morals, the legislation cannot substitute the morality. In fact, people and organizations are regularly required to not only consider whether their actions are allowed by the law, but also to consider the morality of their actions (Brey 21).

Computer security relates to the steps taken in a bid to ensure the required level of integrity, confidentiality, and typical protection against the misuse and malfunction of both the computer system and the data it may contain. Computer security may be divided into two systems, including data, or and information security. The information security entails the software as well as hardware protection of components. In the software aspect, they are protected from the sabotage and malicious programs. On the other hand, the information security entails data protection, which is stored in the computer system to ensure three basic components, including availability, confidentiality, as well as integrity (Brey 22).

Computer Security and Ethics

In computer, one security feature often represents an advantage and a disadvantage at the same time often leaving one in a dilemma. One example is when security features are enabled to protect personal privacy. In fact, the security feature implemented, in this case, can deny access to any information deemed personal to a person who has the right to access that information. These antagonistic characteristics of computer security show the ability to be either constructive or destructive (Neumann 209).

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Compromises of computer security may bring grave damages to the system and the individuals or organization involved. This may happen in purported critical safety systems that are computational frameworks with a constant control, which can have a devastating effect. The illustrations are computational frameworks in nuclear reactor control, flying machines, and aviation authority, and restorative treatment frameworks. The corruption of different sorts of frameworks may likewise have life-debilitating outcomes in a less direct way. Indeed, these may incorporate frameworks, which are utilized for decision-making and for monitoring purposes. In fact, a good example is when there is the utilization of medical diagnosis or scaffolding configuration systems (Brey 23).

Breaches in information confidentiality may result in additional harm and lead to a violation of rights. Outsiders may breach the confidentiality of data by accessing it, duplicating, and spreading it. Such activities may exploit property and intellectual property rights based on the rights to claim and utilize scholarly works; for example, aesthetic or artistic works and industrial plans. Somebody who has the privilege to determine who can get to and utilize the data should only possess the data and this privilege can be abused. A breach of the confidentiality of information may as well violate the rights to privacy. Indeed, this happens when data obtained incorporates private information of individuals, which should be confidential. Notwithstanding, the infringement of privacy, property rights, and confidentiality might likewise bring an assortment of different damages because of the spread and utilization of private data. For instance, a scattering of firm’s internal memos harms the image the company. The privacy of the online credit card is also compromised, a situation that undermine confidence of the security, damages e-commerce as well as e-banking operations regarding online money related transactions (Brey 23).

Compromising the availability of data can disregard freedom rights, especially when they are deliberate, particularly the rights to free speech and information. Hoven has contended that the aspect of accessing data has turned into an ethical right of individuals in the information age since data is becoming an essential social good as well as a noteworthy asset vital for individuals to be fruitful in the public eye (Brey 24). Closing down fundamental informational administrations could damage this privilege to data. Under the same premises, the computer network systems have become vital as far as expression is concerned. The, e-mails, social networks, Websites, and different administrations are used to share information with others. At the point when access to such information is obstructed, or in the occasion through the denial of service hijackings or breaches of sites, such actions are legitimately considered as an infringement of free speech. The security initiatives to inaugurate safety regularly avert harm and protect rights towards the computer, but they can work against the expectations (Brey 24).

Hacking and Ethics

An elaborate piece of computer security is usually concerned with the insurance of computer assets and data against cautious break-ins and unapproved disturbances. Therefore, these deliberate activities characterize the concept of hacking. In addition, the aspect of using computer skills to access information that is not authorized would amount to hacking. It is worth noting that computer hackers are profoundly gifted users of computer applications and can utilize their skills to acquire access as well as form systems or systems, which would facilitate data and knowledge sharing with other hackers. In essence, hacking also entails taking advantage and using unapproved admittance for malicious purposes, which would include disturbing system operations, taking information and software, as well as degenerating the available data. Self-distinguished hackers, in any case, make a distinction amid non-malicious break-ins that they refer as hacking, and vindictive system entries regarded as cracking (Brey 23). The self-recognized programmers regularly legitimize hacking by trying to justify that no genuine harm is carried out and rather have a positive effect. Some of the arguments put forward are discussed below.

The Idle System Argument

One argument presented by computer hackers is that they are just utilizing idle computers. This statement is based on the argument that since some computers are not utilized to their maximum potential, this gives them (hackers) the right to use them. This argument, however, does not stand. First, the systems are not usually set up to offer the standard computer services. On the contrary, they are in fact the set up to be used in specific industries like medicine, public safety, business, research, and government institutions. The underutilized capacity is usually provided to create room for future expansions or developments due to certain forces like advancements in technology or spikes in their activity and not for supporting outsiders. If underutilized processor memory was made available to the public, the system would be so overloaded that it would hardly accomplish its primary purpose. Besides, it is hard to find a logical reason that would justify why an individual would purchase and maintain a system only for others be granted the right to use the system when it is idle (Spafford 235). The purported assumptions that unutilized computing capacity of one individual’s system is a shared resource and privately developed and owned software belongs to everybody is unethical.

The Student Hacker Argument

Some hackers defend themselves by saying that by carrying out their hacking activities, they do not intend to do any harm, but are simply trying to learn and understand how computer systems work. They contend that it is expensive to buy computers, and they are therefore furthering their studies in a cheaper way. Some computer virus creators have gone ahead to claim that their viruses do not cause any malicious harm, but they rather just try to learn how to create complex computer programs.

Again, this argument has many shortcomings. Developing viruses or hacking into other people’s computer systems does not concern education in any way. Rightful education in computer science, and similar courses involves exposure to critical aspects of theory, and design techniques of which hacking and malware creation does not contribute to. In addition, somebody who is trying to learn how a computer system works would not have the knowledge nor ability to understand how the system operates or the effects that would result from their actions. Computer systems have been known to collapse accidentally due to actions from ignorant intruders. Another discredit to this argument is connected to the knowledge of the extent of the intrusion. A person responsible for the security of a system would not take an intruder for his word. A malicious party would still say they were just looking and trying to learn. To ensure the security of the system, there would have to be an examination of the system. If this argument was permitted, computer security enforcers would still have to spend a lot of time verifying systems as nobody would take a chance on the word of an intruder (Spafford 236).

The Social Protector Argument

Another argument more prevalent in Europe more than in the United States is when hackers try to justify their intrusions by claiming that they were looking for instances of data abuse. This context places hackers as protectors and not intruders. This argument assumes that hackers are capable of doing good. True to their word, governments and other large corporations have been known to misuse data. The evolving use of computerized record systems and networks provides room for more abuse. However, it is not certain that breaking into the concerned systems will help in only correcting the wrongs. In fact, the agencies will use this as an incentive to become more secretive and employ access that is more restricted. Another issue is that it is not certain that hackers are the people the public would want to “protect.” Trained computer professionals would be a better placed for such a role due to their professional awareness of the rights and expected behavior regarding security and sensitivity of computer systems (Spafford 237).

Cybercrime and Ethics

Hacking and cracking are both against the law and, as such, they qualify to be referred to as cybercrime. It is worth noting that not all computer crimes that would compromise the security of the computer. In fact, two main cybercrimes jeopardize the security of the computer. Firstly, there is the cybertrespass, which entails the unlawful admittance to the systems of computers, or accessing websites that are protected using the knowledge of information technology (Brey 28). Secondly, there is the cyber vandalism, a kind of access that applies the knowledge of information technology to release malicious programs, which would affect the computer operations, including the computer system or otherwise corrupt data. Although not common in the context of cybercrime, cyber piracy is another form of cybercrime that may breach computer security. Cyber piracy or software piracy is the illegal reproduction of copyrighted material or information with the aim of sharing it across computer networks. In fact, the cyber piracy may not require sophisticated skills in computer, a situation that makes the vice to be more widespread. The computer fraud applies the concepts of information technology to deceive intentionally for personal gain is also a form of cybercrime. Computer fraud may manifest itself in the form of cybertrespass to gain illegal access as well as cyber vandalism in order to manipulate data.

Information security professionals have a professional and moral obligation to ensure the security of computer and information systems. Their moral obligations are usually well outlined in the company’s code of ethics. The company code of ethics does not, however, go into detail on what to do in specific situations unless for large technology-based organizations like Google. It is worth noting that the ISSA is an universal organization for the practitioners of information security and its code of ethics clearly states that all members should carry their duties and activities in accordance with the provision of law and with the highest ethical principles (Brey 29).

Information’s Privacy and Ethics

Mostly in Western societies, there exists a wide knowledge of the existence of the right to personal privacy. Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis were among the first justices to defend privacy in America and defined privacy as “the right to be left alone” (Brey 30). Another concept of looking at the advancement of the rights to privacy is that it has taken after the advancement of humanist conventions. Everybody is said to have a “characteristic worth,” which means that every person is significant in his way, which is the premise of human rights. This advancement has made a tapestry of privacy where the individual and the society one resides in has woven together social qualities with innovation and strategy. This tapestry of privacy does not give a specific definition of privacy to the public. It provides a pattern, which covers certain privacy issues in the public at large (Mason 12). The concept of privacy as an embroidered artwork, identifies with Warren and Brandeis investigation, by saying that, in any case, people are reliant of society, whether they need to or not. Society has expectations of its members and consequently the individual has rights and benefits of participation.

The right to privacy is not absolute because there is a limit to the right to privacy. Therefore, it requires a balance between other existing rights, including the preservation command and the maintenance of national security. Indeed, the privacy rights also fluctuate depending on the situation; for instance, the level of privacy is lesser in public places or in the workplace environment compared to the home environment. One crucial principle of privacy used in most countries is informed consent, which ascertains that individuals have the rights to be told how organizations intend to handle personal information, and that they should be asked for approval before obtaining it (Brey 32).

The Internet Privacy and Ethics

The widespread use of the internet in modern days has brought about many privacy concerns. The internet brings about two main types of privacy issues. To start with, the posting as well as and conglomeration of personal data on the sites occasionally disregard privacy. The internet sites comprise a massive individual data, which can be openly accessible, and without the carrier’s express permission. Therefore, their information may contain private information, including addresses, telephone number, board messages usually in filled announcement from the past, and data concerning individual membership in associations. In addition, the online daily papers and magazines where an individual is specified, the databases in the online platform with videos, open records, and pictures, including oneself may all expose individual data without their consent. The aspect of web utilization tools can be utilized to create intricate combined records about persons. This brings about the ethical dilemmas, which states, should there be a limit to this? At what point does the consent of an individual be sought, especially when his or her data is shared on the on platform in the web, or at what point, should the data be utilized for particular purposes? (Brey 33).

The second issue is the web surveillance of web clients. In fact, the outsiders may the users of the internet linked with the web to assist in data collection about them in undetectable approaches. The online privacy dangers integrate cookies, which are petite information parcels established by servers on an individual computer for the purpose of client verification, maintaining specific data for the client, tracking, and spyware. In fact, spywares are computer programs, which can maliciously gather client’s data from a computer framework. In addition, the colected data may be sent to the third party using the same web platform. Additionally, employers, internet service suppliers, and government institutions might intercept private email and information activity at different stations. This also begs the question of when such actions constitute a privacy violation and what should be done to prevent this? (Brey 33).

Microsoft and Google are two modern day technology powerhouses that are in a constant state of competition. On 19 October 2012, Microsoft made an amendment to its policies that gave it more control over how they collect and utilize personal information from its customers that use free web-based products like Bing search and e-mail. It is worth noting that only a few individuals realized that Microsoft’s strategy changes were much the same as those that Google had made to its privacy laws earlier the same year. Google’s extended forces drew intense disapproval from protection advocates, leading to inquiries from controllers and broadside assaults from the opponents. Those included Microsoft, which purchased full-page daily paper promotions telling Google clients that Google did not think about their privacy, an allegation it immediately denied. The distinction in the two occasions shows the perplexity encompassing Internet user privacy. No single power administers the gathering of individual data from Web clients from Internet organizations. Despite the fact that most organizations have composed privacy policies, they are frequently expressed in such ambiguity that they appear to permit any utilization of clients’ personal data (Wyatt  and Wingfield 1).


Computer security is a wide scope of study that entails the protection of computer hardware and software systems and the information contained therein. As such, computer security can be further divided into system security, which covers the protection of software components of the computer system as well as information security, and the hardware, which covers the data, stored in the computer hardware and software system. In fact, the information security preserves data integrity, confidentiality, and availability. In fact, the three properties present great harm when breached in various ways.

Hacking, on the other hand, represents the unauthorized access of computer resources. Notably, hackers often try to justify their unlawful actions with the ethical argument that their actions are motivated by doing good since all information should be shared publicly, a justification that is controversial but has been refuted by many. The right to privacy is another major ethical issue related to computer security in which the extent of access to and utilization of personal information has not been clearly articulated by well-defined policies, especially because no organizational body has been set up specifically to deal with these issues.

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