October 2, 2012
Case Study 2: Hacking into Harvard
Summary of Events:
This case involves students who have applied to MBA programs, who stumbled across an opportunity to learn of their results early, information that had been obtained via message board. Anyone who has ever applied for admission to a prestigious college, or who has been interview for a desired job knows the feeling of playing the “wait game”. However in this case, applicants waiting for the results of application and interviews into MBA programs offered at –Harvard, Dartmouth, Duke, Carnegie Mellon, MIT and Stanford were able to take a glimpse of whether their destiny has been fulfilled or not. While visiting a Business Week Online message board, thy found instructions, posted by an anonymous hacker explaining the “how to” find out what admission decision the business schools has made on their behalf, of being accepted or rejected. (pp 86-87) Doing so wasn’t hard because all the schools use the same application software known as, “ Apply Yourself, Inc.”, all one had to do was change the very end of the application specific URL to get to the supposedly restricted page containing the outcome on one’s application. It too all of nine hours for “Apply Yourself” programmers to figure out what went wrong, before they were able to patch the security flaw within their system, after the message was posted. But curiosity got the better of about two hundred applicants, who couldn’t resist the temptation to discover whether they had been admitted or not. Ethical Issues:
In order to develop leaders in this world, these leaders need to have principles that they oblige by in order to achieve such goals, to include the highest standards of integrity, sound judgment and a strong moral compass. An intuitive sense of what is morally right vs. wrong, in this case the applicants who hacked into the website failed to pass such test, lack of judgment, versus lack of integrity. The result of applicants finding out the verdict to their applications, were not taken lightly by the schools A general principle that should be followed by such potential leaders is to take responsibility for your actions. Ethics and morals may appear to be the same to some degree, but if one were to analyze, there is definitely some difference. This implies that ethics define the code that a society or group of people adhere to while morality delves into right and wrong at a much deeper level. The ethics that a person adheres too are impacted upon by perception like the nation, society, peer group, religions, and profession, and could change with a change in any of these influencing factors. In the case presented, it is really hard to determine if this is an unethical act. This was an act of “Curious George” to say the least, many applicants were nervous and they allowed their curious mind to wonder. Is it ethical or unethical, to be “curious” that should be the question. Even though the schools, involved stated this was not an accident, but it took some effort to find out the verdicts to said applications. Discussion Questions:
1. Suppose that you had been one of the MBA applicants who stumble across an opportunity to learn your result early? What would you have done, and why? Would you have considered it a moral decision? If so, on what bases would you have made it? I would have read the message, that would have been the norm for me, going into the instructions and following them, would have felt right. The reason I say that because a weekly Business message board, that I frequently visit on a day to day basis, must be legit to say the least. It was posted for hundreds of applicants to see, having it displayed on that particular online site that I visited would have let me know, or made me believe that this is what the school wanted me to do in order for me to learn of my results. Yes, to me this decision would...