Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues

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What are the ethical standards relating to cyber security?

In the s and s the volumes of data available were miniscule by comparison and the "processing" of that data was entirely manual. Had even a small portion of today's capabilities existed, the world as we now know it would probably be quite different. Should organizations' ability to collect and process data on exponentially increasing scales be limited in any way? Does the fact that information can be architected for a particular purpose mean it should be, even if by so doing individual privacy rights are potentially violated?

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If data meant for one use is diverted to another process which is socially redeeming and would result in a greater good or could result in a financial gain, does that mitigate the ethical dilemma, no matter how innocent and pure the motivation? This is an issue with both internal and external implications. All organizations collect personal data on employees, data that if not properly safeguarded can result in significant negative implications for individuals.

Information such as compensation and background data and personal identification information, such as social security number and account identifiers, all have to be maintained and accessed by authorized personnel. Systems that track this data can be secured, but at some point data must leave those systems and be used. Operational policies and procedures can address the proper handling of that data but if they're not followed or enforced, there's hardly any point in having them.

Organizations routinely share data with each other, merging databases containing all kinds of identifiers. What's the extent of the responsibility we should expect from the stewards of this data? Since there's no perfect solution, where's the tipping point beyond which efforts to ensure data can be accessed only by those who are authorized to do so can be considered reasonable and appropriate? Many people are required to sign NDAs nondisclosure agreements and noncompete clauses in employment contracts, legal documents that restrict their ability to share information with other future employers even to the point of disallowing them to join certain companies or continue to participate in a particular industry.

What about the rest of us, who have no such legal restrictions?

Ethical Issues in Cybersecurity Research - Exploring Ethics

In the course of our work for employer A, we are privy to trade secrets, internal documents, proprietary processes and technology, and other information creating competitive advantage. We can't do a brain dump when we leave to go to work for employer B; we carry that information with us. Is it ethical to use our special knowledge gained at one employer to the benefit of another?

How do you realistically restrict yourself from doing so? Information, knowledge, and skills we develop in the course of working on projects can be inextricably intertwined. You're the project manager for an effort to reengineer your company's marketing operations system.


You have access to confidential internal memoranda on key organization strategic and procedural information. To build the new system, you and your team have to go for some advanced technical training on the new technology products you'll be using. The new system you build is completely revolutionary in design and execution.

Although there are areas of patent law that cover many such situations, there's not much in the way of case law testing this just yet, and of course laws vary between countries. Clearly, you've built an asset owned by your company, but do you have a legitimate claim to any part of it? Can you take any part of this knowledge or even the design or code itself with you to another employer or for the purpose of starting your own company?

Suppose you do strike out on your own and sell your system to other companies. Is the ethical dilemma mitigated by the fact that your original company isn't in the software business? Or that you've sold your product only to noncompeting companies? What if we were talking about a database instead of a system? Organizations have the right to monitor what employees do management is measurement and how technology systems are used. It's common practice to notify employees that when they use organizational assets such as networks or Internet access, they should have no expectation of privacy.

Even without that disclaimer, they really don't need the warning to know this monitoring is, or could be, taking place. Do organizations have an obligation to notify employees as to the extent of that monitoring? Should an organization make it clear that in addition to monitoring how long employees are using the Internet, it's also watching which Web sites they visit?

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If the organization merely says there's no expectation of privacy when using the e-mail system, is it an ethical violation when employees later find out it was actually reading their e-mails? Many organizations have started adding a credit and background check to the standard reference check during the hiring process. Are those organizations obligated to tell us they're doing this and what results they've received? The justification for doing the credit check typically is that a person who can't manage his or her own finances probably can't be trusted with any fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the organization.

Does this pass the smell test or is this actually an infringement of privacy? Performing these checks is a relatively recent phenomenon, brought on in part by the desire of organizations to protect themselves in the wake of the numerous corporate scandals of the past few years but also because technology has enabled this data to be gathered, processed, and accessed quickly and inexpensively. Is technology responsible for enabling unethical behavior? Effective decision making is driven by accurate information, but quality control comes with a cost both in terms of dollars and productivity.

If you're checking, you can't also be doing. In a bygone era, there was less data to work with, and the only quality assurance that needed to be performed was on data…operations and procedures were manual, so it was the output of those functions that was most critical.

Fundamentals of Information Systems Security/Information Security and Risk Management

Technology has enabled vastly more complicated and interconnected processes, such that a problem far upstream in a process has a ripple effect on the rest of the process. Sarbanes Oxley requires the certification of all internal controls in large part for this reason.


Many professions are subject to comprehensive sets of ethical obligations which, if violated, may lead to sanctions. The State Bar of California has issued advisory opinions regarding the ethicality of hypothetical attorney conduct. The advisory opinions cover ethicality of attorney blogging, social networking, virtual law office, and other ethical matters. In the recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of organizations including cybersecurity obligations in their ethical codes.

Because of the evolving nature of technology and differences in security features that are available, the attorney must ensure the steps are sufficient for each form of technology being used and must continue to monitor the efficacy of such steps.

Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues

Considering the importance of modern technology, we can expect that the number of organizations imposing ethical cybersecurity obligations to their members will continue increasing. However, the inclusion of such ethical obligations raises some concerns. The purpose of this article is to examine these concerns in detail Section 2 and propose recommendations on how organizations can address them Section 3.

Finally, a conclusion is drawn Section 4. Below, we will examine three main concerns related to cybersecurity ethical obligations, namely, uncertainty caused by broad obligations Section 2. It is not clear whether the appropriate measures include steps such as strong passwords, up to date anti-virus software, regular information security awareness training, and incident response policies. Cybersecurity ethical obligations are often easy to circumvent.

Ethical & Security Issues in Information System

However, neither the journals nor the courses guarantee that the person is kept abreast with the benefits and risks associated with technology. The only way to check the compliance with such an ethical obligation is to require lawyers to pass information security tests. Many organizations have not adopted procedures for accurately assessing the compliance of their members with the applicable ethical cybersecurity obligations.

By adopting such procedures and publishing comprehensive information about them, organizations will facilitate the pre-assessment compliance with ethical cybersecurity obligations. The procedures may, for example, include a detailed list of criteria used for compliance assessment, questionnaires, and interviews. The three concerns mentioned in the preceding Section can be addressed by adopting specific obligations Section 3. Organizations can specify their cybersecurity obligations by listing the minimum measures which should be taken to ensure compliance.

Such measures may include confidentiality agreements, vulnerability scanning, security awareness training, secure disposal of equipment, disaster recovery planning, information backup, data classification, password security, lock-out of inactive computing devices, securing network infrastructure, incident response planning, and incident reporting. A good example of specific cybersecurity obligations can be found in a Massachusetts law M.

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By requiring persons collecting personal data to use encryption, the law ensures that the personal data collected by them will be protected from unauthorized access. Other measures which are suitable for protecting personal data include information hiding and password-protected lossless compression. Information hiding refers to a process of hiding information, e.

Lossless compression is a type of data compression which allows the original data to be completely reconstructed from the compressed data. Since lossy compression reduces files by permanently eliminating information, it may lead to loss of important personal information. Lossy compression may be suitable for compressing personal information only if i the information is in the form of video or images and ii the distortion of the compressed videos or images is imperceptible.

The best way to avoid circumvention of ethical obligations is to impose anti-circumvention mechanisms, such as information security audits by independent experts. Information security audits can take two forms, namely, manual audits and automatic audits. Manual audits may include security vulnerability scans, reviews of access controls, and conducting interviews with staff members. Automated audits may include software-generated audit reports, automatic monitoring of computer systems, and automatic reporting of incidents. Irrespective of its type, each audit should be based on audit guidelines which indicate the objectives, methodologies, and deliverables of the audit as well as the tools used for conducting the audit.

If the audit is performed manually, the guidelines should be in the form of a statement of work SOW provided in advance by the auditor. The tools used for conducting an audit can range from simple checklists of tasks that should be completed during the audit to advanced vulnerability assessment tools designed to identify flaws in computer systems. The procedures for monitoring compliance do not have to monitor all endpoints, networks, applications, infrastructure, systems, and processes. It is sufficient if the procedures monitor moderate and high impact segments.

For example, a public web server which contains publicly available information and does not collect personal data may be regarded as a low impact segment. In turn, a database containing sensitive personal data e. It should be noted that the monitored segments should also cover the cloud. Cloud monitoring can be a complex issue as information stored in the cloud is usually fragmented and dispersed in a large number of countries. After deciding what segments to monitor, it is necessary to determine the monitoring intervals.

Non-stop monitoring and reporting can be burdensome and require significant resources. The National Institute of Standards and Technology recommends the following monitoring intervals of analyzing collected log data:. The results of compliance audits can generally be categorized into three categories, namely, i compliance, ii further evaluation needed, and iii lack of compliance. The first category indicates that the audited systems comply with the applicable ethical cybersecurity obligations.

Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues
Information Security and Ethics: Social and Organizational Issues

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