Unethical Computer Issues

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Unethical Computer Issues
Computer Ethics
Professor
December 11, 2011
Computers have made our lives easier, and as technology rapidly advances, people are using computers, mobile devices and the internet to do everything from work related projects to managing financial transactions and accounts online. While technology has made our lives more convenient than ever before, cyber crime, in various forms, has become one of our biggest concerns. It is a crime to misuse another person's whether personal or financial information, without their consent, for fraudulent activities. Information such as social security numbers, credit history, and PIN numbers is often acquired through the unlawful access to information from government and financial entities, lost or stolen mail, wallets and purses, and credit or debit cards. The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. (Federal Trade Commission, 2011) Identity theft is a serious crime. It is a difficult crime for victims to recover from. It takes a huge effort, lots of time and money to resolve. It can damage reputation and credit rating which in turn can cause the victim to be denied for various types of loans and job opportunities. Some victims have also been arrested for crimes they did not commit. While identity theft is a crime, it is often ineffective because it’s difficult to detect and prosecute successfully. The best responses to identity theft are focused on prevention and remedying the adverse effects once the identity theft has occurred. Identity theft prevention generally aims to educate individuals about how to minimize the risk of identity theft. Prevention methods include shredding and destroying documents that contain personal information, reporting lost or stolen credit cards, and monitoring consumer credit reports regularly, keeping social security cards and birth certificates in a safe place and monitoring financial statements to ensure all charges are valid. [ (Identity Theft Tips, 2008) ]  Hacking is the act of gaining access without legal authorization to a computer or computer network. A hacker first attacks an easy target, and then uses it to hide his or her traces for launching attacks at more secure sites. The goal of an attack is to gain complete control of the system to edit, delete, install, or execute any file in any user’s directory, often by gaining access to a "super-user" account. This will allow both maximum access and the ability to hide your presence. (Campus Activism, 2011) Advances in technology have led to key-logging software, which is capable of tracking and recording every key stroke by the user, thereby stealing passwords and account details. Another serious effect of computer hacking is the denial of service attack. The DOS attack is the attempt of making computer resources unavailable to authorized users. Often, websites fall prey to denial-of-service attacks, whereby they are made unavailable for long periods of time, causing inconvenience to users while also hampering website business. Computer hacking can lead to theft of critical business information. Important information about business clients and customers can be lost or manipulated through computer hacking. Hacking can expose email addresses to hackers, which they might use for spamming and hampering email privacy. Information critical to national security, confidential government data, information related to national defense, security and crime, if exposed by means of hacking, critical consequences on the nation. Hacking of highly sensitive data puts national security and the overall well-being of the country's citizens. (Oak, 2011) Most, if not all states have criminal statutes which make it illegal to participate in hacking. Hacking usually runs in conjunction of other statutes which prohibit theft by deception.  The punishment for such crimes varies by state. However, just as in the case of identity theft,...
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