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Computer Ethics And Impact Of Society Information Technology Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 5342 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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This report is a study of computer ethics and its relevance to today’s society .We live in the age of super computers where everything comes to us in our finger tips. Children get exposure to Internet much before they start their formal education. Computers are electronics devices invented by humans for the convenience and welfare of themselves which does not have any kind of thought process internally about the ethical behaviours. The dos and don’ts in the information technology and Internet are unknown to many computer users. As new evolving technologies come in and these technologies pays way to create challenges in the areas of privacy and security of people around the world. Ethics refers to code of principles by which people live .Computer Ethics is the branch of information technology which deals with the nature and computer technology and the end users and their varying characters. It sets a certain standards or rules for the will be smooth sailing. Some common computer ethics are intellectual property rights copyrighted electronic content, privacy concerns, by which how computers affect society. It involves social issues, such as access rights, working place monitoring, censorship and junk mail; professional issues such as professional responsibility and code of conduct; legal issues such as legal obligations, data protection, and computer misuse and software piracy. The computer ethics field consists of the problems with computer software and hardware malfunctions by the misuse by humans. Our society depends on the computer and its network to leverage the business and social life, hence both social and personal ethicals issues exists . Without computers and its networks most of the industries will not survive in today’s work and will come to a halt. Most of the electronic communications do not guarantee any security and privacy. This report is a journey through the history of computer ethics the pioneers and their perceptions and slants on computer ethics. Later on walks through the influence of computer ethics at work and the various factors that affects to determine the ethical behaviours. (Bynum, 2008)



As the technology evolves, the studies related to this field evolved as well. The introduction of computer ethics as a study came in the year 1940. Norbert Weiner was known as the father of computer ethics. In 1940s, Norbert Weiner who was an American mathematician and professor of Massachusetts Institute of Technology created the “Cybernetics” during Second World War.


In 1950 Weiner publishes his second book “The Human Use of Human Beings “

[Page 16 of second edition of 1954]

When I communicate with a person, I impart a message to him and when he communicates back with me he returns a related message which contains information primarily accessible to him and not to me. When I control the action of another person I communicate a message to him and although this message is in the imperative mood, the technique of communication does not differ from that of a message of fact

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It is the thesis of this book that society can only be understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities which belong to it; and that in the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine, are destined to play an ever increasing part.


Later in 1960 Don B. Parker, an Information Security Researcher and Consultant -associated with the ACM(Association of computer machinery) started watching the unethical usage of computer and information technology by computer professionals (Parker, 1999) (Bowling Green State University., 2001)

In 1966 a professor from MIT Joseph Weizenbaum wrote ELIZA – A Computer Program for the Study of Natural Language Communication between Man and Machine. The first computer crime was in the year 1966 in the United States, a computer engineer manipulated the programs of a bank’s computer system to prevent the banking account being used flag as overdrawn. In 1966 the Freedom of information Act (FOIA) was the first computer law legal right to access the government’s information


1970s were the time period where the computers revolutionized and

Walter Manner who is a Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Artificial Intelligence Project at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio introduced the term “Computer Ethics “. Manner offered the university students a course on an experimental

Course on the subject at Old Dominion University. During the late 1970s through the mid of 1980’s, being a lecturer Mr,Maner was much interest in university-level

Computer ethics courses. He offered a variety of workshops and lectures at Computer science conferences and philosophy conferences across America. In 1978 he also self-published and disseminated his Starter Kit in Computer Ethics, Which contained curriculum materials and pedagogical advice for university? Teachers to develop computer ethics courses.

In 1976 Joseph Weizenbaum published a 300 page book, “Computer Power and Human Reason” which set the benchmark in computer ethics as a field and is still considered as the classic in computer ethics

In 1976: Abbe Mowshowitz published an article, titled: “On approaches to the study of social issues in computing”. It identifies and analyzes technical and non-technical biases in research on social issues in computing. Five positions-technicism, progressive individualism, elitism, pluralism, and radical criticism-which reflect major streams of contemporary social thought are examined—- The ACM digital library, volume 24, issues 3, March 1981

In 1979 Terrell Ward Bynum s Professor of Philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University


In 1985 James H Moor who is a professor of Dartmouth College in Intellectual and Moral Philosophy published an influential article entitled “What is computer ethics”. In the same year followed by moor, Deborah Johnson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute published Computer Ethics

This is referred as the first textbook on computer ethics.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act ECPA of 1986 which prohibits the lawful access and disclosure of the law prevents government entities from requiring disclosure of electronic communications from a provider without proper procedure. (AOL Legal Department, 2003)


Donald William gotterbarn in 1991 his paper work “Computer Ethics: Responsibility Regained.” explained computer ethics as a branch of professional ethics concerned with standards of good practice (Gotterbarn) (computerethics.org, 2000)

In October 1992 the executive council of Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) voted to adopt the revised the “ACM Code”. It is also called “Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice”

ACM code of Ethics and Professional Conduct consisting of 24 imperatives formulated as statements of personal responsibility, identifies the elements of such a commitment


In 1995, Dr,Simon Rogerson professor of computing at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK created the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility (CCSR) to organize the first computer ethics conference in Europe, which was named as “ETHICOMP95”.lateron Rogerson added computer ethics to the curriculum of De Montfort.

In 1995 Gordian Kocikowska, predicted on computer ethics giving a statement “computer ethics eventually will evolve into global ethics” in her article “The computer revolution and the problem of global ethics”

In 1999 Deborah Johnson stood opposite to the statements of Gorniak and told computer ethics will not revolution rather than ethical thinking and analysis, computer ethics is the same ethics with a twist in the flavour. (Comphist, 2004) (Bynum, 2008)


Norbert Wiener

Norbert Weiner in his book “Cybernetics or control and communication in the animal and the machine” in 1948, Cybernetics is formally defined as the science of control and communication in animals, men and machines. It extracts, from whatever context, that which is concerned with information processing and control. His essential goal of cybernetics is to understand and define the functions and processes of systems that have goals. Weiner said that the human nervous system can be compared to ” It is enough to say here that when we desire a motion to follow a given pattern the difference between this pattern and the actually performed motion is used as a new input to cause the part regulated in such a way to bring its in a state of what is known as ataxia.An ataxia of this type is familiar in the form of syphilis of the central nervous system known ad tabes dorsalis where the kinetic sense conveyed by the spinal nerves is more or less destroyed [page 7 and 8]. Amount of information in a system is the measure of its degree of organization, so entropy of s system is a measure of its degree of disorganization. And one is simply negative the other…….study of Maxwell demon [Page 11].

Donn B Parker

In an interview with Donn told that he has interviewed more than 200 cyber criminals to understand the motive to get into computer crimes which shows the evidences of common behavioural psychological patterns. Computer criminals universally fear unpredictable circumstances, environments and events that could cause their crime to fail. Unpredictable systems would create an atmosphere of uncertainty (Bowling Green State University., 2001)

Parker describes the scenario methodology in computer ethics, a need to identify the participant in the scenario. Sorting the act and non-act classifying as ethical or non-ethical or not in the category

Deborah Johnson

Deborah has a different view on computer ethics. She said “pose new versions of standard moral problems and moral dilemmas, exacerbating the old problems, and forcing us to apply ordinary moral norms in uncharted realms”, even though she do not agree with computer creating new moral problems

James H Moor

As per Moor in his article “What is computer ethics ?” defined ethics due to policy vacuum and conceptual muddles with regards to social and ethical use of computers and technology. Computers provide new capabilities and new choices for action. His advices to analyse the framework which results in policy for that action. He also added that computers are logically malleable which can be moulded to do any kind of activities

Donald Gotterbarn

According to Gotterbarn computer ethics should be considered as branch of professional ethics with focus on standards of good practices for computer professionals whom all are engaged in the design and development of in the everyday activities will add value to their professional value. Co-ordinating with ACM he released code of ethics for computer professionals. (Gotterbarn) (Bynum, 2008)


Computers and human life are inter-related , we relish it in many areas of our day to day life in traffic signals, banking system, tax, and police. People blame on computers for cash machine crashes traffic signal failures where human designed these softwares and networks. the dilemma are the blunders associated with computers like ozone layer remained undetected due to programming error Y2K problem was not detected till we approached 2000.If we dig into the actual history of the computer ethics it started with the use of first computer. Computer and information technology is not limited as it is spreads with branches like a banyan tree; information technology has its branches in all the fields of Industry medical, automotive like that the list is not closed. Internet which is a by-product of ICT is revolutionary link to all these branches. We connect officially as corporate, be in touch with our loved ones, search engines, mail, instant messengers. As a medium of storage of critical to personal data, everything are on fingertip irrespective of the physical location as we can say the information technology moves with us and is available in the same or expected form on the web. (Herold, 2006) (Bynum, 2008)


Most of the cyber criminals are anti-social element who gets motivated by the prior worst personal experience resulting in the crimes. Computer crimes can result in financial loss, information loss. Some major computer crimes in info space and as listed below which affects both work and personal life. (Herold, 2006)




Identity theft

Denial Of Services – DoS

Child pornography

IRC crime

Software piracy


Computer hacking has become a status among many youngster.. Hackers are tend to have better understanding of coding and break into computers and are aware of bypassing the security or can remain undiscovered in the network for a certain time without leaving footprints for the forensics by wiping out the log files. When we talk about the evil we should see the other side of the coin the virtuous which is ethical hacking .Ethical hacking is meant for attacking the computer system or network with the full permission of the sole. The most common ethical hacking technique is penetration test by inducing the code to the system and to be aware of the vulnerabilities by negligence as the hackers look for loop holes and create back door. Many corporate create their own IT security policies to secure their network.


Computer viruses are in the top most list of threat faced by the Information world. Computer program created to do nasty works inside which enters into a computer by mean of downloading softwares or mp3 files which calls them as “Free softwares”. Worm is much similar to the virus which gets replicated by human intervention; until and unless provoked remain quiet in the corner of the system. Trojan horses are interested in creating a back-door for the intruders in a compromised machine. Deploying a powerful anti-virus with the latest released virus definitions can help us in leading a peaceful life (Williams, 2003)

Identity theft

Financial identity theft is the widely asserted crime happening in the Internet. These intruders get into the system pretending the account holder of the bank by inputting false identity. A criminal identity thief uses the personal information including the national insurance number and social security number to do crime and leave it as the proof of identity. Medical identity theft is done by using another person’s identity to obtain medical care or drugs where law restricts to purchase drugs. Computer security is the ultimate solution for identity theft by sanitizing the obsolete data in system and spam mails by installing anti-virus software which has powerful tools to protect online transactions. Most of the nations have law in place against these kind of identity thefts which includes heavy financial fine and imprisonment

Denial of Services-DoS

Denial of service won’t affect neither the system security or destruct information loss any files make financial theft but can affect the targeted business by putting on fire ranging from second to days by making unavailability of a critical server, email or website which provides service as business . A buffer overflow with a prior assumption that of the weakness of programming or architecture of the applications used are the famous denial of service attacks that bench marked the history so far. Disabling the ICMP traffic in the firewall can prevent the ping of death. Implementing strong encryption techniques and deploying domain naming service. To overcome DoS attacks are by knowing the infrastructure and regular testing for complexity, keeping spam filters will limit mailbox getting flooded, if the business demands buying a space in the cloud or by keeping dramatically huge processor power and server volume will help to prevent such kind of issues.


Pornography refers to any kind of image displaying a person who is being engaged in explicit sexual activity. In countries like Spain child pornography is a criminal offense if conventional pornography was in the paper based hard copy or video tape as technology advanced the Internet based pornography is image files or video files and on-line buffering. Severely punishing these criminals and these punishments to be brought to the notice of general public for their awareness that it will their experience if they do so. Association of sites advocating child protection ASACP was found in 1996 is meant for reporting child abuses in the society anonymously aiming to catch hold of the pornographers, they have a fully functional hot line and website asacp.org where people are report the crime . The RTA certificate helps children from accessing pornographic websites which is available Internet wide free of cost. (Barron’s Educational Series, Inc, 1999)

IRC Crimes

Many people lose their privacy when then enter the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) rooms. The chat rooms become the playground of cyber criminals, hackers and terrorists. Verbal IRC crimes are where people get abused verbally in the chat rooms. The second category is clone attack where randomly synchronized codes are generated on behalf of usernames by robots to generate a random character which gets multiplied by the per-written code result in flooding and the chat server gets freezes due to Denial of service. Criminals use Cyber stalking to harass women and celebrities. IRC crimes can be stopped by simply ignoring or banning the user id which almost all chat sites allow.

Salami Attack

All these times we were talking about a crime which is relevant only to single attack , now lets talk about a series of tiny attacks which is categorized as salami slicing in computer cyber terms. The attacker steals a comparatively small amount of money from the account and the actual account holder will assume that it might be a service charge of any bank transactions or transaction which they might have done during shopping and won’t be bothered to scrutinise the actual fact. such attacks will be done will multiple users which is like an atomic reaction.


A bot is defined as zombie army which is an interconnected network of computers on the Internet with malicious infected software robots. The zombies army can be controlled only by the owner of the respective program. Botnet which is a malware can result in Denial of service attack. Criminals use this technique to utilize the shared processing power and memory Gradually the users system will face slow down .The solution to overcome the botnet is to install antivirus which can detect the malwares .(Parker, 1999)

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Intellectual property commonly referred as IP in short is associated with creativity of an artistic work, or invention of technologies. Computer professionals and students are committed not to copy other works to part of their work without their consent. Taking the credit of innovative work might not be technically a crime under law but it is unethical. According to Richard stallman the founder and pioneer of Free software , software it should not lie with certain limited people . His version is no one has the monopoly to own, it should be open to all it being claimed as information. The statement of Deborah Johnson is that softwares and applications are the outcomes of a group of professionals effort leveraged by their skill set. I would stand aside Johnson as this an industry which is the bread giving one, but outdated softwares can be release for public use and for students and financially backward people where the light of information world dint fall. Intellectual property is categorized into two by world intellectual property society as copyright and patent

4.2.1 Piracy

Software piracy is the most controversial talk in the information space, if we never pay for free-ware used, the sharewares has to be payed depending on the usage entitled by the owner. Piracy lies somewhere in the middle where the customer need to be pay relatively small amount which is common in Asian countries. Piracy has spread to video industry as well by where the storage discs of newly released albums and movies are available in market for cheaper price .(Williams, 2003)

4.2.2 Open-source Vs Closed-source.

Open-source applications are those applications available free of cost Closed-source applications are available in the market like windows operating system. Open-source softwares can be downloaded free of cost and can be manipulated using the source code. As the word refers closed source softwares are closed in many ways, so we can expect more security from them. It will not be easier for a hacker to create a threat in closed source. For an open source application the source is readily available to the end user, he can experiment the possible vulnerabilities and can create a threat from that.

4.2.3 Plagiarism

Students are liable to stick on to plagiarism. Copying a colleague’s crucial information is equivalent to theft. Plagiarism is a kind of cheating, school going kids do it by literally downloading and later amend it by changing the overall look by adding font colours. Arranging the referred website and book in a systematic way will help the student falling into plagiarism. Consolidating this data into bibliography will help the student in the safer side. (Bynum, 2008) (Williams, 2003)



Spoofing is the process of doing any kind of on-line data transfer where the origin of the data will be IP- spoofing and email spoofing the subcategories of spoofing . IP-Spoofing is the technique used to hide ones ip address and leverage other person’s ip address to do some malpractices. In email spoofing the usually terrorists use this to send threatening email to home affairs department. Man in the middle attack is the by-product of spoofing where a person does the crime pretending the online transaction is done by the poor chap who owns the on-line account by network address translation on a cloud computing . Many corporate have security policies implemented to defend against these attacks


Phishing is the tactics of sending fake emails giving an impression to the end user who receives the email mentioning he is receiving it on behalf of a well reputed organization most of the times from the billing or financial department claiming asking for the credit card details .Phishing sets either an upsetting message or an offer message which enables a psychological reaction in human

Phishing scams are dramatically increasing now a day. To overcome in case of any discrepancies the link needs to be avoided and intimating the concerned person may be a good approach.

Password protection

Passwords are the keys to get into our privacy .Every individual have a bunch of passwords and most of them are identical for our own convenience. .If we are in a business critical position of a corporate or reputed brand. We should adhere to not sharing the passwords even with our friends; need to keep the passwords changed in a time interval of three months .need to make sure we are using complex passwords which contains alphanumeric characters as well. (Bynum, 2008)


Social networking in a spanning innovation of the present world. It is one among the innovations of the decade which if used in a supposed manner common population can make use of it .The advantage of social networking is wherever we go around the world we can be in touch with our loved ones and friends. Social networking can let a business man know the response of his products instantly from the blogs. As mentioned early when new invention is born with twin brother which is a crime . He looks identical twin until being as a crime. Social networking is an unavoidable part of our social life. We are kept updated by the blogs and status updates which is advantageous in many ways for a person who don’t look at newspaper , improving his vocabulary, culture and will let him know what is happening around and most of them comes free of cost. An individual can upload a fake profile which can misguide many youngsters. Most of the social networking websites are privately owned and they don’t really look into the verification of the information provided in the user profile which might result in the misuse of profile for anti-social activities which can a celebrity or a religiously known influential person. (Barron’s Educational Series, Inc, 1999)


Computer professionals work on many technologies in different domains. They work on different programming languages and evolving technology platforms. They are spread around the world contributing their inventions. The computer professionals are not limited to computer scientists or software engineers. The chain will be incomplete without system analysts, warehouse professionals hardware designers, networking professionals, database administrators and IT managers. The basics of ethics should start from each computer professional .there would not be no one to monitor at work. Computer ethics should be self driven. The computer professionals should voluntary test and validate the errors without leaving any loopholes when the applications are build. There is a saying “Engineers build the world “where the same engineers destruct the world too. This is complementary as the engineers invented concrete mixing machines and cranes whereas the same engineers invented the bulldozer. It is the same case of computer industry where the softwares engineers develop softwares and the same software engineers create viruses. Usage of computer or network without the owner’s permission physically or virtually and damaging data is unethical and is certainly a crime. This crime can be monitored upto an extend by intrusion detection systems IDS. IDS is capable of monitoring the computers and its network in an organization. The IDSs are configured in such a way that whenever a deviation from standard policies it will trigger an alert to the system administrator. The computer professionals are obliged to certain responsibility, a software developer who develops is responsible to point out the drawbacks to the society during the primitive stage of the development. The professional should we educated towards the legal responsibilities of the applications as it could become a harm to the evolving technologies . According to me the legal and moral responsibility is mutual and the professional should look into the future inflictions. This lies on the shoulder of every member in the team. The members should report any kind of issues to their supervisors.

Few disasters in the past which reminds us about the importance of ethics ;

1985 Therac- 25 radiation machine fail

1983 World war 3 – Due to bug the soviet intelligence applications

1987 Wall street crash known as Black Monday

1990 AT&T network collapse

1995 Airane explosion

1999 Siemens passport bug

2000 “I love you” virus,

2004 UK child support agency bug

These events in the past reminds us the importance of the software testers were morally liable to the fix could have away because of negligence. Assuming the context of software development for a medical

ACM Code

The association for computing machinery ACM released the code of ethics and professional conduct which is set as a benchmark for computer ethics so far. It is a 24 which talks about the contributing to the society without harming giving credit to intellectual property with respect to privacy and honours confidentiality. Professional responsibilities striving to achieve quality and dignity in work and product. Maintaining competence with respect to the law pertaining professional work. Providing professional review and comprehensive evaluation. We should honour the contract and responsibilities assigned to us. Should improve public understanding. One should access the computer resource when they are supposed to do so.

In 1992 Dr.Ramon C Barquin discussed the role of computer ethics through Computer ethics institute and is being used by reputed institutions and organisation which is quoted as below:

5.1 Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics












Most of the crimes are happening due to underlying vulnerabilities in the system which remains undetected due to ignorance. All the computer relevant evils cannot be sanitized. By applying hot fixes and patches these security concerns could be covered .Privacy can be recalled by adhering by not sharing passwords with friends .A sophisticated intrusion prevention system in place will hinder many intruders and safeguards the system and network. A frequent auditing in the IT infrastructure and review can help in planning and implementing security systems. According to me the best thing is to be in touch with computer professionals and joining their communities and having an eye on the blogs can help us to get rid of the computer. Individuals are the basic building blocks of the society. So the decision making factor should start from the soul of each and every computer user. A focus on the information system failure and research on them could lime light on the computer ethics. Computer ethics need to be a part of the curriculum for students as they get exposure to information world and might get misleaded without guidance. If the communities are doing good it will for sure make a good impact in the progress of a good nation and in turn a good world. To attain this we should respect others privacy, the use of any software should not harm anyone else and end-users should be willing to pay closed source applications and contribute for sharewares .If we come across any discrepancies use our internal sense to relish need to keep the legal people informed about the issue. Employees should adhere to the organizations policies. Honesty and Integrity can strive to ethics. (Tom Forester, 2001) (Stamatellos)


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