As technology advances at a rapid pace, the ethical considerations surrounding cyber security are becoming more prevalent. Due to the handling and protection of sensitive customer data, it’s important that organizations don’t overlook the ethical angle of cyber security.
This article explores ethics in cyber security, delving into the common ethical challenges and issues faced by cyber security professionals, the moral dilemmas posed by innovative technologies, and the collective responsibility we share in upholding a safe and ethical cyber space.
Why Are Ethics in Cyber Security Important?
Protection of Privacy and Data
An ethical cyber security program ensures that personal and sensitive data is handled responsibly and securely. Adhering to ethical principles can help to prevent security threats such as unauthorized access, data breaches of sensitive personal data, and identity theft, which can have severe consequences for both individuals and organizations.
Trust and Reputation
Having cyber security ethics as part of an organization’s culture helps build and maintain trust internally and externally. When companies demonstrate ethical practices in their processes, such as handling sensitive data and protecting systems, key stakeholders like customers and partners are more likely to trust them, resulting in increased stakeholder satisfaction and retention.
Implementing ethical cyber security practices helps to contribute to the long-term sustainability of digital systems, data and technologies. Prioritizing ethical considerations in cyber security can help to reduce the number of data breaches and increase the security of sensitive data, helping to improve the overall safeguarding of sensitive data worldwide and creating a strong ethical core.
What Are the Ethical Standards in Cyber Security?
Integrity is a fundamental standard in ethical cyber security because it ensures the trustworthiness, accuracy, and reliability of the systems and operations put in place to maintain data privacy and reduce the chances of a security breach. Maintaining integrity is crucial for ensuring that data remains accurate and unaltered throughout its lifecycle or if it needs to be altered, it is done by an authorized party.
Ensuring organizational integrity in cyber security involves taking the necessary steps to make sure data is safely stored, but also the implementation of policies on how they handle data so customers have full transparency on how their data will remain secure.
Another key aspect of ethical practice is professionalism, which includes transparency about the type of data an organization collects, why they need it and how it is being stored securely. Organizations need to ensure their customers understand exactly what information will be collected and how it will be used. Moreover, organizations should also implement internal policies and processes that ensure collected data is only used for the purposes stated.
Additionally, organizations should also administer a change policy for data collection. With the rapid advancement of digital technologies, a change to the ways data is collected, stored or shared, is inevitable. Because this will affect user privacy, customers should be informed ahead of time of any changes to how their data is being handled, so they can decide if they’d like to keep or withdraw their data from the organization.
The final standard in transforming ethics within your cyber security practices is credibility. If your organization has effectively upheld ethical standards of integrity and professionalism, credibility is likely to follow, as clients are likely to have increased confidence in your organization as a cyber security provider that has a proven track record of knowledge, skill, and integrity. As an organization that is perceived as credible, clients are more likely to trust recommendations and implement the security measures proposed.
To further build organizational credibility, it is important that all work carried out is accompanied by accountability and responsibility. This includes making sure a culture of accountability and taking responsibility for work carried out is engrained into the company. To help shape this culture, company executives should lead by example by adhering strictly to organizational policies related to cyber security processes and taking accountability when any errors or issues arise.
Additionally, a high level of accountability within an organization will lead to improved decision-making from employees, as this will create an increased sense of responsibility for their actions, increasing decision accuracy and attention to detail.
The implementation of these ethical standards will help to ensure optimal trust, transparency and expertise for customers, whilst keeping sensitive data secure.
Common Issues and Challenges to Ethical Cyber Security Practices
Rapid Technological Advancements
The pace of technological change can surpass the development of ethical guidelines and regulations, making it challenging to address and implement policies for current ethical issues and concerns due to the constant change in processes and methods used to store data securely.
Lack of Awareness and Education
Many individuals and organizations lack a comprehensive understanding of the ethical considerations within cyber security. This lack of awareness can lead to inadvertent security breaches, misuse of technology, or the violation of data handling policies between businesses and consumers, potentially tarnishing the perceived integrity and credibility of the organization.
Preventing an intentional or accidental data breach requires a delicate balance between trust and control, which can be effectively actioned through role-based training programs that are designed specifically for your organization and its needs.
Human Error and Behavior
Despite advanced technological solutions, human error remains a significant factor in cyber security breaches. Addressing the human element involves fostering a culture of security awareness, education, and accountability.
What Are the Risks of Poor Ethics in Cyber Security?
Unethical behavior can erode trust and tarnish the reputation of individuals, organizations, and even entire industries. A loss of reputation can lead to decreased customer trust, investor confidence, and business opportunities, which creates ethical issues for all parties involved.
Poor cyber security practices can infringe on individual privacy rights by allowing unauthorized access to sensitive information and other critical data. This can lead to identity theft, stalking, and other forms of privacy violation, severely damaging individuals’ personal and professional life.
Unethical misconduct can lead to legal action and regulatory penalties. In recent years, jurisdictions have introduced an increasing number of laws and regulations that mandate specific cyber security and data protection standards. Organizations that fail to meet these requirements may be subject to legal consequences.
How to Train Employees on Cyber Security Ethics
Assessment and Planning
It’s important to evaluate your organization’s existing assets, such as data, systems and policies in place, to understand the potential impact of cybersecurity incidents on your company’s assets and stakeholders.
This evaluation can then be used to perform a thorough risk assessment to understand areas within your cyber security where ethical considerations might be absent.
Establish Ethical Guidelines and Policies
Once you are aware of the ethical standards your business must meet, it is important to develop a comprehensive set of ethical guidelines and policies that outline the principles and standards for ethical behavior within your cyber security practices.
Additionally, it is important to define roles and responsibilities for existing cybersecurity professionals and other employees within your organization to ensure ethical standards are being upheld.
Education and Training
Developing and maintaining ethics in cyber security can be difficult, as it’s an additional factor that must be considered within an already fast-paced industry. New cyber-attacks develop monthly, if not daily, and establishing an ethical approach to guarding against them cannot be limited to annual cybersecurity ethics training.
You need to commit to a wide variety of approaches to cyber security training to build an organizational awareness of the latest cyber security practices and how these can be implemented. This also requires a shift in the organizational culture, so that internal errors such as sharing the wrong document for example, aren’t considered a point of failure and are instead, are recognized as an opportunity for security and training structure around that individual which has failed.
Measurement, Feedback and Rewards
To ensure successful onboarding of ethical practices, it is important to frequently assess employees’ understanding and behavior changes through engaging practices such as quizzes, assessments, or surveys. This feedback can not only help continuously improve training materials and methods but also create a workforce that is positively receptive to constructive feedback and improvement.
The Onboarding Process
Ethical cyber security practices should also be included in your company’s onboarding processes. When bringing on new hires, they should be educated on the ethical standards present in the organization and how these are represented within their role.
Since new employees will be more open to learning new things, it’s important to instill a culture of ethics and continuous improvement into them, as will support the overall organizational progression towards a workforce that understands and incorporates ethical values.
Creating Ethical Cyber Security Professionals with elev8
Elev8 specializes in many cyber security training modules to help organizations protect their data from cyber threats and ensure that their cyber security practices are ethical. We empower our clients with bespoke solutions that ensure the correct solutions for their organization are identified and effectively implemented.
If you’re interested in discovering how your organization can improve ethics within its cyber security practices, get in touch with a member of our expert team today.