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Due to the ever-changing nature of computer sciences and information technology (IT), it is difficult to set specific moral codes that regulate the discipline. This area creates a new set of problems that are unique. However, it is important to follow the necessary ethics when making important decisions. With the current popularization of the internet, there is growing interest in computer crime, ethics, and privacy. Information systems are vulnerable, and this goes beyond personal losses to larger territories. Computer information systems are essential parts of most organizations. They present an equal measure of opportunities and risks to information systems. Individuals commit computer crimes with high intellectual ability. It is grouped among white-collar crimes as individuals use computer systems to manipulate information. It is difficult to deter or punish criminals because there are no legal prohibitions against the perpetrators. In most cases, criminals are fired from their original workplaces only to be hired by competitors. With the ever-changing field of computer sciences and information technology, it is essential to evaluate computer crime and privacy and the cultural influences related to it.
There are various ways in which people commit computer crimes and privacy. One of them is through the use of unauthorized computer entry. Perpetrators target the company’s trade secrets and data. It is both an invasion of property and privacy as it leads to the leakage of private information (Berzai, 2012). This crime is categorized as hacking where individuals access information that is not sanctioned or approved by the system owner. The ethical dilemma presented here is a case of who owns information and who should have access to such information. The other area of computer ethics is about issues related to privacy.
The most basic functions of a computer are storage, organization, and exchange of records. Perpetrators of these crimes can access personal information from the victim’s computer hence committing identity theft. When individuals get such information at their disposal, they can easily manipulate it hence causing system errors (Duah & Asirifi, 2015). For example, in cases where a celebrities’ personal information is leaked to the public, people’s perceptions of the individual will change. Such people lose control over their lives and the amount of information about them that is available to the public. Computerized records provide both good and bad consequences in organizations. The positive results include providing access to relevant information, which fosters decision-making hence providing better services (Berzai, 2012). The negative consequences come into existence when faulty information is made available to the public. In this case, people’s perceptions will be based on inaccurate content. Organizations are also liable to make decisions basing their facts on irrelevant information.
Taylor et al. (2011) observed that computer professionals could only act in two ways; the first is by assuming information when there is no evidence in the public domain. The second is through assuming that information is private unless there is evidence that it is not. Professionals are advised to adopt the second rule as they can protect themselves from ethical discretions (Berzai, 2012). The first method poses a greater chance of breach of ethical standards. Computer professionals have an obligation of using the information they have in the right way. However, some of them chose it in immoral ways that affect other people. The power of computer professionals is a threat due to the centralization aspect. Computers store large chunks of information, which is usually private. In any society, there are conflicts between the government and the subjects. The government is always looking for ways to control and manage its citizens hence making their input less effective. However, people fear that if the government had too much control over them, their private rights would be infringed (Gercke, 2012).
Centralization of power leads to feelings of alienation as people continue losing control in the world they live in. There is a massive increase in technological advancements leading to unemployment. An example is the issue of artificial intelligence whereby computer experts are working to include human intelligence in machines. This poses an ethical dilemma of whether it is a possible or proper goal (Longe et al. 2011). The fact that the method degrades human intelligence with machines leaves experts wondering whether it is necessary. Computer technology has greatly changed how people make ethical decisions.
Cultural influences on computer crime and privacy
Computer technology which is rampant in today’s world is related to various problems. It makes life easier and speedy but the background haunts people with the threat of cybercrime. Government operations and business entities would be difficult to function without computers. (Das &Tapaswini, 2013) argued that computers are cheap, powerful, and user-friendly hence more people are relying on them when performing their daily activities. Criminals are not left out in this as they utilize any chance they can get to manipulate people’s personal information. Although there is increasing awareness of the threats posed by cyber crimes and global enforcement acts to arrest the situation, perpetrators are making high illegal profits out of business. Society bears the whole burden which renders it unsustainable due to the current global economic crisis (Infosec Institute, 2013). Cybercrime defines criminal activities where computers or computer networks are a tool or target for criminal activity. It also covers traditional crimes where computers and networks facilitate or are used to facilitate criminal activity (Das & Tapaswini, 2013).
Crime is relative to different backgrounds, and each society has its definition of criminal behavior, which is punishable by the existing laws and regulations. In the case of cybercrimes, business enterprises lose millions of dollars. When the effects of cybercrime are extended to the government, public sector, and the whole population, the amount of loss can reach a hundred billion dollars (Gercke, 2012). However, the figures can be misleading because so many companies fail to quantify the losses incurred due to cybercrime. About 80 percent of cybercrime acts reported are a product of some organized activity. The new model of fraud- as- service and the increasing underground market is giving rise to a new breed of criminals with expert skills. Cybercrime is currently a business opportunity that is open to all and is driven by greed for profits. Experts at RSA Security observed that cybercriminals are continuously improving their tactics to be in line with the changing business world.
The RSA Anti-Fraud Center came up with a list of the trends that cybercrimes are expected to follow (Infosec Institute, 2013). They include; Cybercriminals will change tactics as the world changes, increased incidences of hacking, cybercriminals will target big data principles to increase their effectiveness, and there will be increased manual cyber attacks. Cybercrimes occupy about one-third of all computer-related fraud cases in the world. Another aspect of cybercrime acts relates to the availability of computer content such as pornography, acts of terrorism, and piracy. Other acts related to cybercrime include those that are against confidentiality, integrity, and access to computer systems. This accounts for one-third of all cybercrime acts (Yung- Shun, Kevin & Wilson, 2011). The national laws and the efficiency of law enforcement agencies affect cybercrimes.
Impacts of cybercrime
Crime is evil to the society
From time immemorial, society has been fighting crime among its members. However, despite the prevalence of these efforts, crime is part of social existence. It is embedded in the most basic parts of human existence. Crime is evident in all societies and is among the most basic human instincts. Crime victims may end up losing their valuables, peace, finances, safety, and property.
The impact of cybercrimes on socio-eco-political factors
Crime changes to fit the available socio-political and economic changes in society. Crime is dynamic. It goes in line with the existing social, economic and political factors. While societies experience low social morality, economic crimes are on the increase. Crime is dependent on other social phenomena, economic systems, and political factors (Das & Tapaswini, 2013). Societies with high population densities are prone to experience high crime rates. Other factors influencing crime rates are situational, urbanization, migration, unemployment, and income inequalities. The economic structure of a particular society also affects the rates of economic crimes. Crime rates are influenced by the political system, which dictates the rules and regulations to be followed in a particular place.
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Effect of cybercrime on teenagers
The concept of cyberbullying which mainly affects teenagers has become rampant in society. The victim suffers from threats and negative comments, which lead to low self-esteem and self-confidence. Cyberbullying is usually done through social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. At the worst levels, cyberbullying can lead to depression, humiliation, and self-harm.
Effect of cyber crimes on the private industry
The consequences of cybercrime in the private industry can be detrimental as most companies realize fraud after a long time. It is not easy to retrieve such events as the period between the crime, and its discovery gives an advantage to the perpetrators. This factor makes it hard to arrest and persecute the criminals (Das & Tapaswini, 2013). The situation is even worse in companies that do not realize there was the threat of cybercrime hence destroying it from within. Organizations experience different degrees of cybercrime leading to differing economic impacts. Businesses dealing in energy, defense, and financial services have higher rates of cybercrime than those in retail and hospitality.
Impacts of cybercrime on consumer behavior
The increasing rates of computer innovation have brought important information to society. People have knowledge about cyber crimes and cyber terrorists in business organizations. E-Commerce has opened a new level of shopping online. Organizations should be extra vigilant to prevent potential cyber threats as this might affect the future of businesses. Through the implementation of proper measures, organizations will restore customers’ confidence in the internet as an alternative form of shopping. Cybersecurity is designed to ensure the safety of consumer privacy and information.
Emotional impacts of cybercrime
Despite the emotional turmoil people go through after cybercrime incidents, they are still stuck to the traditional behaviors (Longe et al. 2011). People who have experienced cybercrime will have feelings of hopelessness because they are caught unawares. They are not emotionally or financially prepared for the devastating experience and will feel violated.
Impacts of cybercrimes on business
In the U.S, the incidents of cybercrime are rising by the day and are costing the owners dearly. The range of criminal activities involved is a breach of the company’s regulations.
Cost of protection
It is costly to prevent cyber crimes from occurring in different organizations. The costs range from identifying risks, building safer operating procedures, and purchasing protective software and hardware materials. In big and complex businesses, the managers may hire cyber security consultants who can consult on issues related to cyber security (Duah & Asirifi, 2015). The maintenance cost can be expensive as it would involve teasing and monitoring computers in case of any potential threat. The organizations will in turn charge customers more to compensate for the added costs.
Impact of cyber crimes on friendships and the youth
With the increasing use of internet services, youths can access real and online friends. Some of them are very active, true, and confident in these sites more than they are in real life. This improves both intra-relationships and interrelationships between young people.
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There are various ethical problems in the field of computer sciences and information technology. Knowledge enlightens an individual’s mental, spiritual, and emotional states. Education is important as it helps individuals in performing their professional jobs. Ethical challenges that face the computer science and IT areas include privacy, security, ownership, accuracy, and control. Laws that relate to information security, intellectual property, and financial transactions guide some of the ethical issues. I have been working for company X as the IT manager for the last four years. The secretary is one hard-working lady who is usually the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave in the evening. Due to her exemplary performance, she has received a salary increase severally. However, for the last three months, she has been careless in her work. She also delivers the company reports late without any explanation. I have had several meetings with her, but she does not open up. Last Friday I served her with a termination letter that detailed the cause of my actions. She was shocked and explained her disappointment with my actions. Her problem is that she is assigned extra work and so she is always fatigued at the workplace. She complained about her office chair and the computer screen which affected her eyes. I realized that the reason she was avoiding closure is that she feared being dismissed from the organization. She booked an appointment with an optician and obtained new spectacles. She also got a new chair which is more comfortable and will help her perform duties with ease. I also ensured that she had her weekly off days and annual leave as per the job agreement.
While dealing with the secretary, I was faced with an ergonomics/health issues dilemma. There are many issues related to ethical health issues in computer sciences and IT. Workers need to take adequate breaks and ensure that they are comfortable in their place of work. Without this ethical awareness, employees are prone to suffer from health problems related to the field such as back problems, eyestrains, and infections. In the coming weeks, the secretary was back to her normal working schedule. The provision of a better working environment motivated her to work even harder. Managers need to have close personal relationships with their employees so that they can have an easier time handling conflicts. In my case, the issue escalated because I treat her just as a worker, not as a friend. That is the same reason that led to her dwindling performance and near dismissal.
People tend to blame computers when they are in trouble, but in reality, they are the ones to be blamed because they came up with the technology. Some people have committed heinous crimes using computers as they fail to take responsibility. Society needs to be educated on the power and potential abuses related to computer technology. Through this knowledge, people will be aware of computer ethics and therefore handle moral dilemmas ethically. However, with the rapid change in technology, it is not easy to come up with strict moral codes of conduct.
- Berzai, L. (2012). Ethical Problems in Computing. Available at: https://www.aitp.org/news/98451/.
- Das, S., and Tapaswini, N. (2013). Impact of Cyber Crime: Issues and Challenges. International Journal of Engineering Sciences 7 Emerging Technologies, 6(2): 142- 153.
- Duah, F., and Asirifi, M. (2015). The Impact of Cyber Crime on the Development of Electronic Business in Ghana. European Journal of Social Sciences, 4(1): 22- 34.
- Gercke, M. (2012). Understanding Cybercrime: Phenomena, Challenges, and Legal Response. Geneva: ITU Publications.
- Infosec Institute, (2013). 2013 – The Impact of Cyber Crime. Available at; http://resources.infosecinstitute.com/2013-impact-cybercrime/.
- Longe, O., Oneurine, N., Friday, W. Victor, M., and Lynette, K. (2011). Criminal Uses of Information 7 Communication Technologies in Sub Saharan Africa: Trends, Concerns, and Perspectives, 9(3): 155- 172.
- Taylor, R., Caeti, D., Loper, E., and Liederbach, J. (2011). Digital Crime and Digital Terrorism. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education INC.
- Yung- Shun, Kevin, W., and Wilson, H. (2011). The Evolution View of the Types of Identity Thefts and Online Frauds in the Era of the Internet. Internet Journal of Criminology. Available at: http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/wang_huang_the_evolutional_view_of_the_types_of_identity_thefts_and_online_frauds_in_the_era_of_internet_ijc_oct_2011.pdf.