Ethics and Computer Security Essay
The world we live in today is very different compared to the one our fore fathers lived many years ago. It is clear that tremendous change has taken place over the last ten decades, and whose impacts has been felt in all the facets of human existence such as social, political and economic.
Over time, man has been trying to employee various means in order to improve his living standards through innovation and inventions of new machines and equipments with the aim of enhancing production in the society.
The involvement of machines in the process of production has made it possible for many nations in the globe to produce enough food, treat disease, eradicate the menace of poverty and facilitate capacity building of the people through education, to mention but a few.
The introduction of computers and the internet in the 1970s marked the end and the beginning of a new era where human labour was no longer required in the production of goods and services.
Workers were replaced with machines and in the process rendered jobless. But today computers are used to perform a large volume of workforce in organizations, such as storage and processing of data, coordination and planning of duties, controlling and regulating of operations and retrieval of information if need arises.
At this point in time we can despite the fact that information revolution has altered to a larger extends various components of human existence such as employment, education, production, religion, human relations, family structure and democracy. In order to counteract the impacts of information communication technology (ICT) in the society, researchers developed computer and information ethics body that is essentially an applied scientific body (Weckert & Adeney 1997).
It can be defined as the scientific approach that is mandated with the obligation of laying down the frame work of operations of professionals using technology at the work place. The involved state holders have devised moral codes and regulations that affirm how professionals should safeguard the welfare of the organization using computers by explicating good practices within the workplace.
Milestone in the establishment of computer and information ethics
It was during the beginning of 1940s when efforts geared towards innovations and advancement in science and technology kicked-off. More resources in terms of finance and human resource were mobilized towards the creation of new machines and computers that were going to be of great importance in alleviating the living conditions of the people.
With regard to this, there was the need to establish a new body that constituted the knowledge in science and philosophy that aimed at impacting good moral practices of professionals at the workplace.
Norbert Weiner is regarded as the founder of the new philosophical field in the 21st century. He was an American scholar, as well as a professor specialized in mathematics and engineering at Liz University. His effort was realized during the World War II when he made electronic computers and other new technologies that were of great help during this moment in time.
Together with his colleges from other parts of the world, such as Great Britain and Europe, Weiner brought to board a new scientific body referred to as ‘’cybernetic’’ that was going to address the impacts of technology after the World War.
In his opinion, he predicted that the world was going to undergo a second revolution that was to be initiated as a result of advancement in science and technology. According to him, creation of cybernetic body was the only effective way to minimize the challenges obscured opportunities that laid a head after the World War II.
After critically evaluating the social economic impacts that emerged after the World War, he decided to publish books and other literature materials that were going to inculcate knowledge and skills on the people regarding the concept of information ethics.
However, Weiner in his early publications never coined the term computer ethics because he felt that it was not a new vocabulary in the world of technology. It was until a decade later when the term information ethics and cybernetic was coined in the subsequent literature materials and become popular among the scholars.
In laying down the foundation for this new body of knowledge, Weiner used analytical methods to illustrate the relationship between human nature and society at large and how the two interact simultaneously. He was in a position to highlight various human principles that are useful in shading more light on topic of ethics and computer security.
They include: Principle of freedom that accords that each individual should fully explore the potential embodied in him or herself; Principle of equality that ascertains that equal chances to be given to two or more people without biasness and principle of benevolence that states that good will should exists between man and man beyond the venture of humanity (Wiener, 1948).
Criticism of ethical relativism
Society is heterogeneous in nature in the sense that it consists of many people with varied cultures, traditions, norms and values. As a result of this, there are always confrontations and conflicts among the people on which principle of justice should be followed by all the communities.
According to Weiner, he affirms that ethical relativism can still exists in the society despite the variance in peoples’ culture, traditions, norms, values and religion, if only they can adhere to the principle of justice that act as the supreme law.
The bottom line of Weiner’s argument is the fact that principle of justice should not restrict people from fully exploring their potentials in terms of choice and decision making process that makes people to be responsible for their own actions.
Theories of information and computer ethics
Many researchers have placed forth different approaches in addressing the concept of ethics and computer security. This has been a contentious issue since 1985, after John Moore published an article “What is computer ethics” in 1988.
Moore was more critical because he was in opposition to describe and elaborate the reasons why computer raised a heated a debate among the people compared to any other kind of technology.
In his account, he argues that due to the existence of logical malleability in computers, there are many options that a computer user employs to execute different tasks. The availability of these options creates what is termed as ‘’policy vacuum’’ that provides avenues for manipulation of security codes through hacking and installation of back door programmes.
In addition, the existence of policy vacuums also predisposes more challenges to professionals in the sense that it creates conceptual muddle about the reliability and validity of the computers. In trying to shade more light on this concept, Moore related the core values of the society such as knowledge, health, life, opportunities and resources with the concept of privacy and security in computers.
If these fundamental elements cease to exist in a developing society, there would be disintegration, conflicts and instability of the community that, in turn, causes wars and havoc among the concerned parties (Moore, 1999). He affirms that the same approach is applicable to computers and other forms of technologies if not well handled.
Computer at the workplace
The introduction of computers in organizations has elicited varied reactions from the public and the international community’s. This is according to a recent report released by international journal of cybernetic ethics on 4th September, 2008. The main issue of controversy is to determine the extent to which technology should be involved in the process of production and what impacts it has on the welfare of the workers (Beycioglu, 2011).
Most organizations have employed computers to perform almost all the operations in a firm with a minimal assistance from few workers. This, in turn, has replaced many of the workers rendering them unemployed. Furthermore, due to the monotonous effect of using computers, workers have been reduced to machine like creatures in the sense that they cannot exploit their potentials fully. One is required to press a button or initiate a logical command to the computer and the rest of the work is done by the machine.
Managers should take into account the impacts of technology on the welfare of their employees, since it interferes with the normal operations of the organization (Margaret & Henry, 1996). Health and safety matters of the workers should be taken into account because they may influence the rate of production.
Privacy and Computer crime
Computer crime is one of the challenges facing the entire world today. There are many forms of computer crimes, but in most cases, involves the use of back door programmes to access database of an organization and dissemination of virus through the internet (Himma, 2003).
Firms have devised mechanisms that are effective in protecting their database from being accessed by unauthorized persons through the use of passwords and security codes. However, in some instance cases of violation of information ethics prevail because other workers fail to honour the obligation of adhering to rules and regulations that govern moral contact by reliving security codes to outsiders.
The topic of ethics and computer security is one of the current challenges that the world is facing today. Violations of information ethics among professionals have led to embezzlement of public funds, manipulation of important data for personal interest and incurrence of huge expenses in repairing the system, to mention but a few. Use of back door programmes, hacking and access of passwords are the most commonly methods used by hackers to access and retrieve data without the consent of the owner.
Beycioglu, K. (2011). International Journal of Cyber Ethics in Education (IJCEE). doi:10.4018/IJCEE.
Himma, K. (2003). The relationship between the uniqueness of computer ethics and its Independence as a discipline in applied ethics. Ethics and Information Technology, 5(4), 225-237.
Margaret, A, & Henry, J. W. (1996). Computer ethics: The role of personal, informal, and formal codes. Journal of business ethics, 15(4), 425-437. DOI: 10.1007/BF00380363.
Moore, J. H. (1999). Just Consequentialism and Computing. Ethics and Information Technology, 1(1), 65-69. DOI: 10.1023/A:1010078828842.
Weckert, J. & Adeney, D. (1997). Computer and information ethics. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Wiener, N. (1948). Cybernetics: or control and communication in the animal and the machine. New York: Technology Press/John Wiley & Sons.
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