Computer Ethics and Ethical Hacking: Analytical Essay
Computers are electronics devices invented by humans for the convenience and welfare of themselves but does not involve any thought process internally on ethical behaviours. With Computer science and technology playing such a central role in every aspect of modern life, the question of appropriate ethical principles and standards for computer professionals has become increasingly vital (Henderson, 2017). This report discusses the understandings, concerns and examples of Computer ethics. It further illustrates a structured view of ethical implications on ethical hacking.
Computer ethics is a study of concepts, principles, and reasoning, applied in an environment which involves computers in essential ways. The introduction of Computer ethics as a study came in the year of 1940 by Norbert Weiner, the father of computer ethics, but Walter Manner was the one who introduced the term “Computer Ethics” in 1970 (Himma and Tavani, 2008).
In a broader sense, computer ethics can be understood as a branch of ethics which studies and analyzes such social and ethical impacts of ICT (Bynum, 2018). However, Computer ethics is a profound and prolific understanding and misunderstanding of today’s generation.
Professional organizations adopted Code of Ethics in an effort to help computer professionals from the issues in Computing. These codes of ethics can be used as the guidelines to remain ethical when using computers. Some of the code of ethics that exists are:
Figure: 2.1.1 Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics
Software licensing and certain other intellectual properties are protected under copyright law. Further, proper citations and referencing are some of the tools that are used in computer ethics to ensure protection against plagiarism. Ethical hacking, also used as a methodology for testing cybersecurity in organizations, which recognizes the security, privacy risks and vulnerabilities within a network in order to prevent malicious intrusions (Hajjar, 2021).
Therefore, Computer ethics are so called professional ethics where computer professionals apply codes of ethics and other standards of good practice within their profession to be more ethical.
Ethical hacking also known as penetration testing or white-hat hacking is a methodology for assisting computer professionals and administrators in their efforts to secure networks (Beaver,2018). It is also considered as an important factor for organizations due to the rising cybercrime rates (see figure 2.2.1) (Insurance Information Institute,2019) and the high growth of cyber criminals.
A competent penetration tester works closely to follow hacking trends, study new exploits, read hacker forums, and gets to the edges of the criminal hacker’s circle to stay competent on his job all while maintaining their integrity (Hajjar, 2021).
Figure: 2.2.1 Number of Data Breaches and Records Exposed
Every penetration test comprises a rule of engagement, which basically defines how a penetration test would be laid out, what methodology would be used, the start and end dates, milestones, goals, liabilities and responsibilities (Baloch, 2017). However ethical hackers adopt a strict code of conduct that prevents them not to take any personal advantages and protects their relationship with their clients and their client’s interests.
A penetration tester will use the same tools and tactics as a malicious attacker, but in a controlled and secure way (Regalado et al., 2018). However, ethical hackers do not limit themselves to penetration tests, they use other tools like social engineering skills to evaluate their client’s security (See Figure 2.2.2) (Christen, Gordijn and Loi, 2017). Ethical hackers always perform their job defensively to minimize compromising the client’s system or network which emphasizes prevention and extra caution in ethical hacking.
Figure 2.2.2 Ethical Hackers
However, ethical hackers work in transparency with their clients to ensure the reliability which protects confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the computer systems (Trabelsi and Ibrahim, 2013). Finally, conveying an executive summary and a technical report makes their work more ethical (Weidman, 2014). Further, The International Council of E-Commerce certifies and licenses penetration testers to keep ethical hacking ethical (Beaver,2018). Therefore, ethical hacking as part of a good security strategy, is evident that it will strengthen the cyber security against the ever-growing cybercrimes (Georg, 2018).
Technological development has raised many questions on ethics and most have not even been evaluated yet. Computer ethics is a distinct field of study, concerned with questions and issues like privacy, accessibility, computer security and much more. Ethical questions rise due to lack of policies which often leads to a catastrophic failure. Using computer ethics and defining relevant ethics can be found as unethical in some concerns. However, lack of policies often leads to an ethical approach, where computer ethics can be easily considered as the best standard for computing.
In general, the word ‘hacking’ always denotes misuse and corruption. Ethical hacking is one of the tools that are used to evaluate security programs of organizations, but when implementing an ethical hack, issues like breaking security policies, procedures and violating the code of conduct may arise questions like, is ethical hacking actually ethical? Unethical acts will cause disclosure of confidential data, losses in firm and breaks professionalism of ethical hackers and lead ways to critical dilemmas.
Even though there are issues in certain aspects of ethical hacking, in general most of the ethical hackers always make sure they work ethically.
Ethics are important in all aspects of life. Both ethical and unethical practices exist in this digital world but choosing the right one for the betterment of the society relies on everyone. Overall, this report highlighted the importance of appropriate professionalism, ethical behaviour, concerns and implications which are considered in both computer ethics and ethical hacking. Unlike many other long-established fields, computer ethics and ethical hacking are relatively new fields. However, due to prevailing issues and dilemmas in cyber space, computer ethics and ethical hacking have turned into important aspects of this age of technology.
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