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What Is the Relationship Between Computer Security and Ethics?

Ethics codes are often breached when people invade the privacy of others by gaining unauthorized access to personal information stored on computers.
Some hackers hire themselves out for ethical services such as testing a company's cyber security.
The unethical release of malicious viruses can lead to problems with computer security and crashes.
Ethical problems enter the computer world when a computer user's privacy is invaded or personal information misused.
Article Details
  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2014
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Computer security and ethics are related in the sense that the observation of established computer ethics will lead to increased computer security. Computer security refers to the security, or lack of security, of both personal and commercial computers. Ethics for computers is used to describe the philosophical principles of right and wrong in relation to the use of computers.

A link between computer security and ethics can be seen in the ethical principle that prohibits people from invading the privacy of others through gaining unauthorized access to their personal files and other personal information. The growth of technology has led to advances in technology. This has translated to an increase in the kind of actions that may be done with the computer and other related gadgets. Unfortunately, this growth has also increased the ways in which unscrupulous people may gain access to the personal files and information of others. Such an ethical violation is a compromise of computer security. Practicing good computer ethics means that such unauthorized access would stop, protecting the personal information of others.

Another correlation between computer security and ethics involves the unethical release of malicious computer viruses and malware through infected emails, Web sites, links and other means. These malicious programs compromise the security of computers by affecting the normal functioning of the computer. They may either cause the computer system to crash, or they may carry out other functions with which they were preprogrammed.

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Sometimes, computer security and ethics are intertwined in unintended ways. An example of this relationship can be seen when a computer user goes to download a file from a Web site that entices people with promises of free downloads of the works of others. These downloads may include music downloads, software downloads, ringtones, videos and pictures. Ethically and legally, it is wrong to download the intellectual and creative work of others without paying for them. The person downloading the material may be aware of this violation of computer ethics, yet such a person may still persist with the violation. More often than not, the free downloads come with unwanted attachments in the form of malicious programs or tracking programs and may sometimes cause the computer to crash. In this case, the violation of computer ethics has led to the compromise of the computer security.

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Discuss this Article

literally45
Post 3

Ethics isn't always black and white. There are some issues that are dubious and it's difficult to know if it's entirely ethical or unethical. Although downloading music might be illegal, I personally don't think it's entirely unethical. On the other hand, a computer virus harms people's computer and prevents them from using it. It can destroy files or give strangers access to the computer. They may steal their personal information and use it.

So we have to realize that ethics is a scale and every unethical action doesn't weigh the same on the scale.

candyquilt
Post 2

@fBoyle-- I agree with you that developing viruses is unethical. But I also think that people who use the internet as they ought to will not usually be threatened by a virus. Usually computer users that download illegal music and films deal with these viruses. And piracy is illegal and unethical too. So there isn't much of a difference between a virus developer and a user who steals other people's creative work.

fBoyle
Post 1

Computer viruses are awful and must be the biggest ethical issue for computer security. What's worse is that there are rumors that anti-virus programmers make these viruses so that people have to buy their products.

I don't know if this is true but if it is, it is definitely unethical. Developing something harmful and then selling its remedy is nothing but taking advantage of people and ignoring their rights. Not everyone can afford to purchase every new anti-virus program out there and they're quite expensive. And there is no dearth of new computer viruses either.

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