|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Information technologies Cyber security Ethical dilemma|
Imagine waking up one morning to the tv news that some information you held as private has been published online. What is more interesting, you had secretly stored the information on your personal computer. Undoubtedly, the first thing to linger on your mind is that someone must have had access to your computer. At that point, you recall that neither your computer nor your home WIFI is password protected. Furthermore, no antivirus software was installed in the computer. Indeed, this incidence mirrors cases of infringing in other people data privacy that surface almost on a daily basis; however, it is unique since it presents an ethical problem that is worth being discussed. In this case, the most important consideration is to understand whether the person who hacked the computer and stole the information broke the law if the victim did not take any initiative to protect your information? Although such cases present a big dilemma, I believe the hacker did not break the law since the victim should have taken steps to protect his computer and the network. Put it in another way, the victim knew the damages associated with the "voluntarily risk."
Historical and Cultural Contexts
Computer technologies have profoundly transformed the way people interact. The internet has enabled people to communicate instantly despite being located many miles apart (Fulda, 2000). Whilst these technological advancements have brought numerous benefits in contemporary society, they have also seeded myriads of ethical issues that even up-to-date remain contentious (Gotterbarn, 2017). Right from the moment that computers were invented, there were concerns that they would be used inaptly to the detriment of society. Consequently, this led to the development of computer ethics, a branch of applied ethics regulates the use of computer technologies (Gotterbarn, 2017). Computer ethics deals with moral principles that guide and regulate the use of computers.
The issue of computer hacking is a perfect example that exemplifies how the topic of computer ethics comes into play. Typically, many people consider hackers as criminals that use their technical skills to access computers systems with an ill intention such as stealing money, information, or customer data (Baloch, 2017; Fulda, 2000). Despite the fact that most cases of hacking involve committing crimes, there are moments when it is ethical.
Some IT experts have specialized in hacking, albeit to the benefit of companies. Ethical hacking is typically performed by "white hat hackers." They attempt to bypass security in an endeavor to look for vulnerable areas that can be exploited by malicious hackers (Baloch, 2017). Any area that is identified is reported to the hardware and software vendors so that it can be addressed (Holzer & Lerums, 2016).
Certain rules must be followed for hacking to be considered ethical. The regulations include obtaining permission from the organization to intrude their network to identify possible risks., observing good security practices, and respecting the privacy of the firm (Holzer & Lerums, 2016). Finally, the findings must be documented and be notified to the software vendor. Therefore, ethical hacking is conducted by "white hat hackers," and the core purpose is to evaluate the vulnerabilities in the networks or system. They determine whether it is possible to gain unauthorized access to the systems.
Over and above, the latest computer technological advancements have brought a whole new field of ethical dilemmas. Alluding to the case presented in the introductory part, it is evident that there is an ethical dilemma concern of "how much protection is enough." Unquestionably, data privacy is an important aspect that cannot be overlooked, especially in today's digital world (Fulda, 2000). However, when people fail to put up any measure to secure their data, computer, and network, who should be blamed in the case the information stored in such a computer get hacked? While it may not be a case of ethical hacking, the target person must also be blamed for not protecting their data. The argument to support this stance is that by not putting any effort your data, then you are voluntarily assuming any risks that would arise; in this case, the risk of being hacked.
Legal Considerations to Determine who is at Fault Alluding to the case, there are three key things that the target person failed to do to protect his data from being stolen. First, the computer was not password protected. Secondly, there was no anti-virus to protect the computer from malicious attacks from hackers and virus. Thirdly, the network that was being used at home was open, and thus, anyone within its range could have accessed it.
Thus, in such a case, is the person that stole the information breaking the law if the target did not take steps to preserve their information? Although hacking someone's else data is a breach of law according to the Data Protection Act, it should also be noted that in this case, the individual knew the risks that could arise if the computer, as well as the home network, were not password protected. Thus, the risk of being hacked was very high. While such incidences are still under investigation on who could be at fault, at a personal level, I blame the victim (owner of the computer).
Markedly, under the law of torts, voluntarily assumption of risk is an affirmative defense that a defendant can raise in case there is evidence of a negligence action from the plaintiff (Bohlen, 2017). Assumption of risks occurs when the litigant is prohibited from recovering the incurred damages for any injury sustained if the individual knowingly exposed himself to danger. Thus, the assumption of risk bars the claimant from seeking compensation on the basis that the accuser knew the risks associated and willingly presented themselves to it (Bohlen, 2017). Regarding the computer ethical dilemma question under discussion, it is apparent that the computer owner voluntarily failed to put measures to protect his computer and network, and thus knew the risks but went ahead and took the chance of being hacked.
To wrap up, this discussion has delved on a computer ethical dilemma case. As evidenced, the computer was hacked since it was not password protected. Therefore, it is advisable to always ensure that the computer and the network is password protected. Besides, it is important that one update the antivirus regularly to avoid being attacked by virus. Indeed, this case exemplifies the fact that technological advancements have brought a new field of ethical dilemma. However, despite these challenges, ethics must be considered when making any pertinent decision in the field. Apparently, this shows that there are many gray areas that need to be addressed. Thus, it is critical to educate the public about the potential abuses of computer technology. It is only through this way that society will have a clear understanding of computer ethics and how to properly deal with moral dilemmas that arise in the computing field.
Baloch, R. (2017). Ethical hacking and penetration testing guide. Auerbach Publications.Bohlen, F. H. (2017). Voluntary Assumption of Risk. Harv. L. Rev., 20, 91.
Chen, D., & Zhao, H. (2012). Data security and privacy protection issues in cloud computing. In 2012 International Conference on Computer Science and Electronics Engineering (Vol. 1, pp. 647-651). IEEE.
Floridi, L. (2010). The Cambridge handbook of information and computer ethics. Cambridge University Press.
Fulda, J. S. (2000). A Gift of Fire: Social, Legal, and Ethical Issues in Computing, Sara Baase. Ethics and Information Technology, retrieved from http://docshare03.docshare.tips/files/24807/248072508.pdfGotterbarn, D. (2017). The use and abuse of computer ethics. In Computer Ethics (pp. 57-62). Routledge.
Holzer, C. T., & Lerums, J. E. (2016). The ethics of hacking back. In 2016 IEEE Symposium on Technologies for Homeland Security (HST) (pp. 1-6). IEEE.
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