Ethics for Computer Forensics A Consensus Approach Thomas Schwarz, S.J. with help from Mark Ravizza, S.J. and the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
Theses • Systematic ethical reasoning is vital for any professional in a changing field. • No single system of ethical reasoning is accepted. • Codes of Conduct help, but are not sufficient in a changing field.
Observations • Most “ethical” questions are non-brainers (I should not throw a little dog in front of a car because its owner upset me.) • Most systems give the same outcome for most of the remaining problems. • Few “hard” questions remain: abortion, care for severely malformed newborns, etc.
Observations Ethical Complexity Pyramid Inherently Hard Difficult Problem results in a majority consensus Serious Problem results in a consensus by various schemes Checking Required No Brainers
Goal • Present a Scheme to Systematically Investigate Ethical Issues • Not Yet About Cases.
Procedure • Collect everybody’s favorite ethical system. • Derive a simple set of questions. • Answer systematically these questions. • Make a decision based on these answers.
Procedure Evaluation • Not quite as tedious as it seems. • No right answer. • But “forms conscience”. (According to Christian Theology, a well-formed conscience needs to be obeyed.)
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics A Framework for Ethical Decision Making • Recognize the Moral Issue • Get the Facts • Evaluate the Alternative Actions from Various Moral Perspectives • Make a Decision • Reflect on the Decision
Typical Example • Employee Conrad Clueless uses a “pornographic” screen-saver at his company provided workstation in a semipublic office. He is informed by management that this violates the company’s policy against sexual harassment. He signs a statement that he understands the policy and agrees to stop offending behavior. The screensaver is indeed removed. • Several months later, another employee objects again against C.C. using a pornographic screen-saver. He insists that he did not install it and alleges a trap. • When told that a forensics examination can determine when the screen-saver was installed and thus exonerate him he suddenly claims violation of privacy.
Medium Example • A law enforcement community develops the Ruminant, a program that monitors all electronic communication through a given internet site. Ruminant generates a listing of email for human consumption according to rather narrow search criteria as spelled out in a search warrant. Is deploying Ruminant ethical?
Hard Example Case A systems administrator discovers the vulnerability to a worm infecting machines running SQL-Runner from ABCSoft. This is being discussed at a hacker forum in which she participates. From past experiences, she expects no reaction from a bug report in time, as an administrator of a high-profile website she also expects distributed DoS attacks on her site. She has written an “inoculating worm” that discovers vulnerable websites and changes the default settings to prevent the malicious worm from spreading.
Recognize the Moral Issue • Is there something wrong, personally, interpersonally, socially. Is there conflict damaging to people, the environment, institutions, or society?
Get the Facts • What are the relevant facts in the case? • What individuals and groups have a direct or indirect important stake in the outcome? • What are the options for acting?
Evaluate the Alternatives from Different Perspectives • Consequences: Which option will produce the most good and do the least harm? • Rights: Which option respects the rights and dignities of all shareholders? Which treat everyone fairly? • Common Good: Which option promotes the common good and helps all participate more fully in the goods we share as a society, as a community, as a company or agency, as a family? • Virtue: Which option would enable the deepening or development of those virtues or traits that we value as individuals, as a profession, or as a society?
Consequences “Of any two actions, the most ethical one will produce the greatest balance of benefits over harms.”
Consequences • Known as Utilitarianism. • Assumes that benefits can be compared. • Does not address how benefits are distributed. (E.g. If I steal $1.- from you in order to make $10.- for me, that’s better.) • Does not explain whataccrues the benefits. (Rules vs. individual acts.)
Consequences • Offers a simple calculus for most cases.
Rights “Act in ways that respect the dignity of other persons by honoring and protecting their legitimate moral rights.” • Identifies certain fundamental civil, political, and economic rights that merit protection because they pertain to the dignity of the human person. • Each person has a right to be respected and treated as a free and equal rational person capable of making decisions. • Includes right to privacy, autonomy, subsistence, freedom of conscience, physical integrity, etc.
Rights • Takes the perspective of the stakeholders. • US legal system is right-based. • Enumerating all possible rights that might be infringed is hard. • Rights might conflict.
Common Good “What is ethical is what advances the common good.” • Presents a vision of a society as a community whose members are joined in a shared pursuit of values and goal that they hold in common. • The community consists of individuals whose own good is inextricably bound to the goods of the whole.
Common Good • Can a pluralistic society speak of common goods? And even if it would, how about the relative values? • Free-Rider Problem • Individualism • Unequal Burdens
Common Good • Decision making needs to identify the community, e.g. hackerdom vs. US vs. World population.
Virtue “What is ethical is what develops moral virtues in ourselves and our communities.” • Focuses on attitudes, dispositions, or character traits that enable us to be and to develop our human potential. • Includes: Honesty, courage, faithfulness, trustworthiness, integrity, compassion, etc.
Virtue • Can the notion of virtues be extended to corporate decision making? • On the positive side, discussing virtues of a corporation forces it to develop a corporate culture.
Virtue • Virtues are developed through learning and practice. They become a habit. • Virtues are not individual, but related to a community or to a succession of communities arranged in a shell.
Make a Decision • Considering the analysis, which option is the right thing to do? • If you were to die today, what would you like to have done?
Act and Reflect • How did it turn out? • What should we have done differently?
Shortcomings of the Method • Knowledge Fallacy: Plato: “If you know the good, you will do it” But, is that true? According to Aristotle only the already virtuous should study ethics. • Gives short thrift to the philosophical background. Every theory claims to have the answer, not one of many possible ones.
Positive Side Effects • Discussion of an ethical issue often leads to innovative solutions. • Solving a current problem helps avoid future problems (e.g. by putting policies in place, clarifying rights and expectations, ...)
Why do it if it does not work all the time? • A procedure is most needed for the “hard” cases. • The framework does not provide the decision. • But, • It clarifies the values at stake. • Forces co-operative reflection. • Framework provides a common language for discussion.
Proposed Outcome • Participants are sensitized to discern ethical issues. • Participants are capable of discussing ethical issues. • Participants can argue their decisions.