Business Research Methods. Computer Hacking

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In the computer industry, and even among those who are familiar with computers, hacking is a common word that often connotes something negative. It can even take on an esoteric air because not many people can do something as complicated as breaching other systems, networks, or computers. When people hear of hacking, the first thing that usually comes to mind is security breaches and malicious people destroying systems or compromising the integrity of networks and data contained within them.

This activity is not something that anyone can just do. It requires skills, critical thinking and analysis to be able to get past security measures put in place by intelligent individuals to keep outsiders from accessing non-public systems. This means that the people who are successful in breaching other networks or computers are smart and even brilliant. Due to the negative connotation associated with hacking, this may be the reason why people who have these capabilities often do not advertise themselves. This gives hackers an air of mystery coupled with negativity (Taylor, 59).

Since hacking is often thought of as something negative, this paper will put the concept in perspective and determine if ethics can be associated with this kind of activity. Meaning, this paper will try to determine if hacking can be ethical. Doing so will begin by defining the concept as it is without bias or prejudice. Its history and place in computer development will also be discussed to further understand why some computer professionals engage in hacking. An analysis of hacking’s positive and negative uses and applications will be described to be able to make inferences concerning its ethical implications. It may be possible that hacking is just a misunderstood activity in the computer world. Any activity can have its good and bad sides depending on the person who practices or uses it.

Research problem

Identity theft is another serious disadvantage of computers and internet in which offenders steal the identities of other people for economic gains mostly. Identity theft done through computers includes credit card fraud, stealing passwords to access sensitive personal information and committing crimes under other’s identities. Hacking, another similar crime committed through computers includes “infringement on the privacy of others or damage to computer-based property such as files, web pages or software” (Stone, 1).

Literature Review

Hacking Defined

The traditional definition of hacking is an action that means cutting something in pieces using repeated and irregular blows. The term’s meaning evolved when computers came to age as groups of electronic computer enthusiasts and the media began to look for a term to describe the process of modifying computer systems without the aid or consent of the server or mainframe manufacturers. Since the process usually involves going through the security walls and finding weak spots, the media coined the term hacking to describe this activity. The person who carries out an act or who makes a career of hacking is known as a hacker. It requires commitment, passion and an expert level of skills in programming, electronic technology concepts, and reverse engineering. Hacking can be used for intellectual purposes or other positive reasons (Taylor, 23).

Forms of Hacking

Network Hacking

This exploits security holes or vulnerabilities in a network in order to gain access, gather vital information about the target domain or IP address, such as the firewall type the ports that are used, and open computers or servers connected to that network and the operating system used (Gunkel, 10).

Website Hacking

As the term implies, the hacker tries to find security flaws or weaknesses in the applications used to publish the Website in order to gain access and possibly plant applications that would benefit the intruder. Most intrusions come from the common gateway interface vulnerabilities, programs used to create the site like PHP, Perl, or Python, and others coding or programming languages. Visually, a Website owner is able to tell if there is a breach of security when the appearance of the site changes or some applications are removed or added.

Computer Hacking

In this instance, the intrusion occurs right into the individual computers. The hacking occurs through vulnerabilities on the physical computer system and its operating system. Hackers can modify the computer’s BIOS and its main operating systems, like Windows or Linux. This can be done even if the computer is located far from the hacker.

Software Hacking

This is a different form of hacking because the intrusion does not occur on a system or a computer. Instead, the hacker will try to break or crack copyrighted software’s registration and security codes. This kind of hacking carries many legal and ethical implications not only for the hacker but also for people who use software crack codes to use copyrighted material without paying for its cost.

History of Hacking

It was in the 1960s when hacking of computers first emerged among MIT students who transferred their knowledge from modifying systems found in trains, switches and tracks in order to make them work faster. They used this knowledge to rig the new mainframe computing systems that were developed on the campus. This was partly out of curiosity and a challenge for many bright MIT students who wanted to test how easy or difficult it would be to breach the machine without making the developer aware of what was happening (Taylor, 23).

The next decade saw the rise of phone hackers, who were called phreaks. Having successfully infiltrated mainframe computer systems and other mechanical systems, this new breed of hackers wanted to break into the secure telephone lines to be able to make free calls all throughout the country and even on international numbers. The phreaks, John Drape, in particular, discovered how to generate the hertz signal that would allow them to break into AT&T’s switching system without being known. This became a national problem as more and more college students began making their own blue boxes, which enabled phreaks to make unauthorized connections. Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, Apple Computer’s founders, were among the phone hackers in the 1970s (Smith, 1-2).

The 1980s became the era when computer hackers started to gain their own identities. By this time, phone hacking was becoming a problem for them, which means that they needed another avenue for their skills. Computers became the most attractive venue since it presents many challenges that hackers find interesting and appealing. Computer hack groups began to form and emerge creating electronic bulletin board systems for sharing ideas, trade tips, and even stolen credit card information and passwords. Just like in phone hacking, computers gave hackers various incentives that would promote intellectual growth or obtain financial gains through fraudulent means. Among the first groups of hackers were the Legion of Doom and the Chaos Computer Club. At this point, hackers were mainly known in the computer world while the rest remained unaware of their activities and the dangers that could come from the misuse of programmers’ skills and capabilities in breaking and entering systems.

The film war games made the public aware of hacking and its effects on the society. In the film a hacker had to break into a military simulator for nuclear combat to assist in getting the video game he was hacking. The result of this mistake made the military raise defense alert because the play request is interpreted as an enemy missile launch. What this film showed the public were the possibilities that hacking can do. It wanted to raise awareness of this activity so that people would be more careful with their security systems. Coincidentally, the same year that the movie was shown, there were six teenagers who managed to hack numerous computers, including the Los Alamos National. This was just the beginning of why hacking became associated with negative activities.

In 1984, the first hacking-related magazine called 2600 began its publication. These magazines gave hackers information and tips on how to intrude on phone systems and computer networks, two alarming things that would not sit well with the public. Over time, computer hacking cases grew to an alarming degree, prompting the federal government to pass the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 1986. This law was the government’s first attempt to curb the rising fraudulent cases due to computer hacking (Gunkel, 2).

The first real threat of hacking came in the wake of the Morris worm, a self-replicating worm placed on the government’s network to test the UNIX operating system. Unfortunately, it got out of hand and infected thousands of computers. This incident made authorities realize the extent of damage that hacking can do to unprotected systems. Worms or other forms of viruses can be placed on a hacked network to accomplish things that its developer wanted to obtain. This increased vigilance uncovered the first espionage case in 1989 that involved the use of computers. Hackers from West Germany were able to break into U.S. computers and stole sensitive information, which they sold to the KGB (Perseus, 10).

Hackers would sell other hackers in order to escape the hands of the law. In the mid-1990s, hacking takes on a new level as Internet connectivity changed the landscape for businesses. Hackers transferred their knowledge and applied this to the new medium. As expected, fraud from malicious hackers resurrected resulting in the loss of millions of dollars from various entities due to intrusion into their systems by people who knew how (Gunkel, 2). There are even hackers who managed to infiltrate a bank’s system and siphoned funds from the bank into private accounts in different parts of the world. Other forms of malicious hacking activities involved spamming AOL’s network and sending its subscribers thousands of emails. In the late 1990s, the first Trojan horse was released. This hacking tool would enable remote access. This means that a machine can be remotely controlled even if the person is not physically present. As a result of all these attacks, computer security became a mainstream concern, resulting in the creation and establishment of different programs for detecting and preventing fraud (Focus Editors, 1-2).


Common classifications of research purpose include exploratory, explanatory and descriptive. Exploratory research is sometimes considered a prelude to social research and may be used for doing casual investigations (Hopper, 59). It is important to be flexible when performing this research because it is possible to come across findings, which may unexpectedly change the direction of the research (Bryman, 492). Therefore, exploratory research often starts with a very broad focus that progressively changes through the course of the research. Descriptive research on the other hand, requires that a descriptive theory be developed before commencing the research (Hopper, 59). Descriptive research includes identifying and mapping by signifying, registering and documenting based on the researcher’s choice of perspectives, level of depth and definitions.

It can be inferred that in order to progress onto exploratory research, the descriptive research needs to be executed well. Lastly, explanatory research aims to make an analysis of cause and effect relationships, which is similar to that of the descriptive stage (Hopper, 58). In other words, the analysis should be based on various predetermined conditions.

This research paper takes the approach of descriptive research as information is collected in order to describe what COMPUTER security techniques are available to reduce hacking. Nevertheless, the research is also exploratory and explanatory due to cause and effect relationships are sought out as well.

Research Approach

There are mainly two approaches to conducting research; a quantitative and a qualitative approach. These methods are used to generate, arrange and analyze the information and data that have been collected. The difference between the two ways of conducting research is that quantitative research relies on mathematical and statistical treatment in the evaluation of results, whereas qualitative research relies on description in the evaluation of results. Common quantitative data gathering techniques involve the use of questionnaires and interviews where responses are given a numerical value. Qualitative data gathering techniques on the other hand involve the use of interviews, observations, diaries and even case studies and action research.

This will utilize qualitative research method. Those Researchers who support this approach argue that no two situations are the same and every phenomenon is unique. Furthermore, the research state three central aspects in qualitative research, the first aspect is the researcher’s possibility to see and interpret the reality from the respondent’s perspective. The second aspect focuses on studying the relationship between theory and research with the qualitative tradition and finally, the last aspect is to decide on how much of the qualitative research results can be generalized. In other words, the non-standardized and complex data that is collected has to be classified into categories before it can be analyzed in a meaningful way.

Therefore, the qualitative approach to research is much more suitable for this study as rich and extensive data is gathered to understand the computer hacking. Additionally, the qualitative approach to research is appropriate for this study because it is inductive in nature, which means that the researcher gains insight and understanding from the patterns in the data collected.

Comparison and Analysis of the Research Methods

There are different levels of resources that shall be taken into account when choosing a research method to use. This goes along with the time frame needed to complete the research. This section will briefly compare some of the basic similarities and differences among the quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods in research.

It is a must to discuss the basic and brief comparison on how settings of the quantitative, qualitative and mixed research methods are being carried out. The quantitative research method is carried out in a controlled setting to reduce or eliminate outlier variables within the study. This results in data that can be evaluated and standardized (Yeung, 6). The positivistic paradigm view is from the perspective that the world is objective and can be represented numerically (Creswell and Tashakkori,108). In comparison, the qualitative research method is carried out in the natural environment of the participants, without any direct modification of the environmental setting (Crewell, 213; Yeung, 5). The worldview of qualitative research is that human beings construct their own reality. Lastly, the mixed research method is not restricted to a set of perspectives, unlike those of quantitative and qualitative methods. It employs the pragmatic paradigm belief of employing the approach, which will best assist the researcher in understanding the research study (Creswell, 211).

The cost and timeframe of research execution per method also have obvious differences. The quantitative research method is the least costly and the least time-consuming to conduct (Creswell, 123). This is considering the type of research design, the type of sampling method, and the time to gather data from the participants. On the other hand, qualitative research requires longer timeframe. This is considering the research design and data collection. Comparing the data gathering process between qualitative and quantitative methods, the qualitative is obviously time-consuming. Quantitative research’s design, sampling, and collecting process requires less time.

The inflation of cost and time in qualitative research is because of the need for the researchers to allow the natural progression of the research design to emerge. However, despite the cost and extended period of conducting qualitative research, mixed methods are by far the most expensive and most time-consuming among the three research methods. With mixed methods research, the researcher needs an extended level of expertise, and must be proficient with both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

Furthermore, the researcher must understand the intricacies of collecting both quantitative and qualitative data. The procedures must be very clear and transparent so that the research data will be categorized and sorted properly. In addition, the surmounting cost of conducting such multiple studies proficiently is certainly no small feat. Despite the number of resources and time associated with this mixed methods research, the wealth of multiple perspectives and value it bring to the scientific community far outweighs the challenges and difficulties that arise while conducting mixed methods research. The next section will analyze quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods research.

Analysis of the Quantitative, Qualitative and Mix Methods

The qualitative researcher is open to the existence of multiple realities. The researcher utilizes inferred knowledge in carrying out the research study. With regards to data collection, the sampling method used to gather data in qualitative study is for the most part very purposive and not random. The quantitative research method utilizes the random method in its research designs, with the exception of quasi-experimental designs. Quasi-experimental design utilizes a readily available group (Creswell, 213). What is unique about the qualitative research is where the theory of the study stems from. In qualitative research the theory utilized by the study seems to be grounded in the information collected versus that of any predetermined assumptions.

This is known in scientific research as inductive theory. Whereas, in quantitative research, the theory is predetermined and not discovered; or it evolves as the research progresses. This is known in scientific research as deductive the deductive theory. Mixed methods research can either make use of the deductive or inductive theory. The use of the theory is based on the most dominant approach in the study. If the dominant approach is quantitative, then the theory most likely utilized will be deductive. However, if the dominant approach is qualitative, then the theory most likely to be used is inductive. Mixed method is the only research method with the ability to unreservedly employ both methods to find the best solution (Creswell, 215).

Delving deeper, the study design in qualitative research is not chosen prior to the process; unlike in quantitative research. The designs are rather allowed to materialize as the research study moves forward. Thus, there is a strong possibility that there could be further changes to the study; such as development of questions that can either expand or contract the type of data being collected within the boundaries of the research topic.

Another area to examine in analyzing the research methods is the process of drawing a conclusion or summation. Quantitative research methods draw conclusions objectively and statistically from the data collected and analyzed from the research participants. The result is a conclusion that is a generalization of the whole study.

On the other hand, the conclusions in qualitative research are drawn from the interpretation of the research participants. The conclusion is a summary of the unique findings and the categorical examination of the similarities and differences of experiences of the respondents.

Meanwhile, an essential and unique component of the mixed methods research is its transformative design, which is beginning to gain popularity. This transformative design consists of various traditions or processes that are not limited to one research method (Creswell, 212). The use of the multiple methods “provides research, provides strengths that offset the weaknesses of both quantitative and qualitative research” (as cited in Creswell and Tashakkori,108). The conclusion of mixed methods research is drawn from the data collected both statistically and interpretively. This is the process of finding the course of action to take in order to come up with the best solution (Creswell, 214).

Research Strategy

The previous section discussed the research approach taken to conduct this research and this section focuses on the technique taken to gather the data. A multiple case study approach will be used to conduct to reach the purpose of the research. Case studies are not a single qualitative technique since a number of methods are used. Case studies are very popular and are especially good in situations that are complex and involve a number of different issues.

Case studies can be typical, atypical, precursor or multiple. This research takes a multiple case study approach, which allows for comparative treatment and as a result helps build and confirm the accepted theory. With case study research, it is important to set the scene for the reader because this gives the research more credibility and makes it academically more valid.

Case studies are an excellent vehicle for a research paper because they are more suited to small-scale research. A case study will always generate empirical data and information, so it is not solely dependent on already published work, and while the data may not be present in vast amounts, it will always be interesting and specific to the example under scrutiny. There are four states to carry out an appropriate case study (Creswell, 213);

  1. Design the case study – determine required skills, develop and review the protocol.
  2. Conduct the case study – prepare for data collection, conduct interviews.
  3. Analyze the case study evidence – analytical strategy.
  4. Develop the conclusions, recommendations and implications.

These steps follow closely in line with the topics discussed in this section of the dissertation. For example, the research strategy section resembles the design of the case study step recommended by Yin, the data collection and sample collection sections resemble the conduct of the case study step and the data analysis section resembles the analyze the case study evidence step.

In the design of the case study step, the researcher should possess or acquires the ability to ask good questions and to interpret the responses. The researcher should also be a good listener, have a firm grasp of issues being studied, and be unbiased by preconceived notions.

Data Collection

Data collection can provide, when properly executed, a rich source of material. The following section presents the data collection methods used to carry out the research needed for the research

Primary & Secondary Data

Information can be classified into primary data and secondary data (Creswell, 213). Secondary data includes material, which has been published before, such as a textbook. This type of material is less specialized and not up to date, although it tends to provide general background and theory. Conversely, primary data is new and original and tends to be very specialized, such as theses and trade literature. Simply, primary material represents data that has been collected for the purpose of actual research.

As secondary data, this research makes use of the Internet, published books, online journals and databases. Primary data was collected in the form of phone interviews with the chosen respondents presented in the sample selection. A pilot study, presented in another section of this paper, was also conducted as well as the companies’ policies and procedures concerning hacking. There are six primary sources of evidence for case study research, namely, documentation, archival records, interviews, direct observation, participant observation and physical artifacts (Creswell, 203). The table below presents the reader with the sources used in this research and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Sources of Primary & Secondary Data

Source of Evidence Strengths Weaknesses
  • Stable – repeated review
  • Unobtrusive – exist prior to case study
  • Exact – names etc.
  • Broad coverage – extended time span
  • Retrievability – difficult
  • Biased selectivity
  • Reporting bias – reelects author bias
  • Access – may be blocked
Archival Records
(ex. Company records)
  • Same as above
  • Precise and quantitative
  • Same as above
  • Privacy might inhibit access


Telephone interviews were used as a way of collecting data. Interviews in general can be used in a variety of contexts and situations and in conjunction with other research methods (Creswell, 213). Creswell (214) recommends that an open-ended interview is best when the research wants to know the informant’s opinion on events or facts. He further goes on to mention that a structured interview is shorter and more useful if a formal survey is going to take place.

For the purpose of this research, a semi-structured phone interview with each company was conducted to encourage respondents to speak freely and elaborate on the topic of hacking policies. This type of interview allows the researcher control of the interview to some extent while also allowing for the provision of a great deal of information, but not so much information that can potentially cloud the interpretation of the material collected. Focal to interviews is the fact that they are very time-consuming, and the researcher needs to take into account the length of the interview, the transcription of tapes, and so on (Creswell,215).

Due to these disadvantages, only a small sample was chosen, which realistically speaking, is not representative of the population. In addition, the researcher was aware that face-to-face interviews may have been preferable, but unfortunately, the distance, financial issues and time aspects had an impact and therefore deemed the interview more feasible through telephone.

Interview Questions Formulation & Interview Structure

The interview questions were designed in a way to represent a semi-structured interview, which means that some questions were close-ended while others were open-ended. Open-ended questions were used to probe areas that are more sensitive and to gain more insight. Because the research approach is qualitative, Table above was used as a guideline to determine the types of questions that should be included in the interview. Mainly, the interview questions were essential questions. Essential questions are concerned with the topic of study (Creswell, 214). In this case is the hacking and information security. Every attempt was made not to include complicated or wordy questions for the respondents in order to avoid confusion and ambiguous answers.

Moreover, the researcher informed the respondents of the intent of the study, how the study will be conducted, and asked for permission to tape the interview. This was followed by asking the main body of the questions, which are those questions that concern the specific management of company information. Finally, in the closing phase of the interview, the respondents were thanked and asked if they wish to be presented with the findings of this study and if they can be contacted further if the need should arise.

Data Analysis

It is recommended that the interpreting and analyzing process follows immediately after the data collection process has been conducted, thereby limiting the risk of missing vital information that may not be documented by interview notes or tape notes (Creswell,213). Moreover, Creswell (215) recommends pattern matching and explanation building as the most desirable strategies for analysis. The results and reasons for the choicest opinions are recorded and compared thereby following the pattern matching strategy.

This data analysis procedure is a simpler version of content analysis and by analyzing the data in such a way, the researcher is able to sort through all of the data, divide it into representative ideas or categories, and finally identify how they can be linked to form larger and more general themes; this really is a process of conceptualization (Crotty, 77)

In light of the above process, the analysis of data consists of three flows of activity; data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification. This theoretical proposition follows the steps recommended by Crotty (78) and by conducting a within-case analysis of the two caste studies, the researcher was able to thoroughly analyze each particular case. Finally, a cross-case analysis of the two companies was also conducted.

Reliability, Validity & Pilot Testing

Since the research design is the blueprint for the research and dissertation, it would be amiss not to mention the concepts of validity and reliability in the design as well.


According to Creswell and Tashakkori (110), reliability is about consistency and research, and whether or not another researcher could use the design and obtain similar findings. Even so, this does not imply that another researcher would come up with the same interpretations or conclusions as researchers before. The interview used in this research is reliable in the sense that the results will be replicable when the research would be conducted again with a similar sample, assuming of course that all other factors remain the same.

The Validity of the Effectiveness of the Research Methods

Regarding the effectiveness of each research method as a valid approach to measure leadership qualities, quantitative research has been the dominant centralized research method by default. Consequently, this does not mean that the qualitative and mixed methods research are not valid methods to measure hacking policies. The validity of the effectiveness of qualitative and mixed methods will be further discussed later in this section.

Quantitative research method has been a central theme in the progression and development of information protection research (Bryman, 495). Quantitative research is a valid method to measure customer data, not just by historical default. It is also due to the tools within the method that leads to the quick and economical gathering of information, especially that the current organizational structures of diverse policies are continuously changing. It is important to know and understand the knowledge and qualities of the information in the organization.

The use of quantitative research methods provides quick objective data and data analysis in the measurement of hacking policies in a modern environment. The results that quantitative methods research produce represent an epic center of knowledge aiding the alignment of organizational objectives and goals.

Pilot Testing

Pilot testing involves implementing a small section of project or research to determine whether it will be successful (Yeung, 7). The pilot study is a critical activity for the successful development of our survey and will be conducted to test weaknesses in the design and instrumentation while providing data for a probability sample that is relevant to our study.

Pilot testing is done to discover participant’s reactions to the questions; is repetitiveness or redundancy going to be bothersome are some topics not covered, are there some groups of questions perceived to be sensitive or threatening. Borrowed questions from another survey will be assessed to see if they are timely or relevant and do they need context from questions that are adjacent. Newly constructed questions are also checked for meaningfulness and if they evoke the exact meaning intended by the researcher.

Due to the success of the pilot testing, the researcher was able to determine if the right questions were asked and clarifies any misconceptions and misunderstandings, the interviewees had. The pilot testing was also a success because the researcher was not fraught with unanticipated problems that are likely to emerge in some pilot tests. It is important to note that completing a pilot study successfully is not a guarantee of the success of the full-scale study mainly because unexpected problems or issues that did not emerge in the pilot study can in fact emerge in the actual study.


There is a great need to measure the hacking policies used by companies because of the continuous structural, cultural, demographical, and geographical changes in an organization. There are currently three ways to conduct a study on this matter; such research methods are the quantitative, qualitative, and mixed research methods. The intent of this paper is to define, compare, analyze, and evaluate the effectiveness and validity of each research method in measuring the hacking policies in storage information.

As the discussion goes, the mixed research method is the most efficient way of analyzing the hacking policies. All of the sources used in this paper show how every research method helps in studying the hacking and its policies. It can be concluded that all of the methods are valid and effective depending on the purpose. It is unjust to dictate which research method is more effective to use as this limits the researcher from gathering the information that is needed to come up with the best results of the study. Imposing what research method to use for this matter hinders a researcher from meeting and enhancing the strengths in using various research methods and designs.

The sources reveal that every type of research method is independent of another but they all embody the whole research process. Quantitative and qualitative research methods are complimenting each other, strengthening the results of a study. The union of quantitative and qualitative research in the mixed research method is a realistic and holistic way to measure hacking and its effect. It is the balanced process in deductively and inductively understanding the changing world.

Findings and Discussion

The computer industry was partially founded by hackers, like the founders of Apple Computers. Hackers are people whose curiosities are important in pushing innovation forward. In the early years of the computer industry, traditional companies like IBM and HP, whose idea of growth followed business processes that were not as innovative when compared to the emerging industry leaders, dominated the business. They followed research and development protocols, which hackers would not dream of doing.

Hackers are people who have a passion for knowledge and outsmarting other smart people. They are non-conformist who finds a thrill by not following rules. Computer manufacturers, programmers and systems administrators should be able to think fast and outsmart hackers. As a whole, there is an ongoing battle between computer security developers and hackers. Each is always trying to outdo one another (Smith, 2).

Without the hackers, the computer industry and the Internet would have been a very safe marketplace to trade information and do business. But the reality of hacking provided the Internet a touch of danger. This means that when computer professionals put up their systems, they have to take into account the possibility of other people wanting to break in. The hackers, in essence, keep computer professionals thinking on their feet. The computer industry will continue to evolve because hackers are still around. When new technologies are introduced hackers would try to discover its limit, which can sometimes result in the discovery of new software programs or hardware equipment (Wall, 5).

The computer industry has also made use of hacking as a way to test the reliability and safety of their systems. Hackers too are employed to ensure quality and to steer research and development in new directions. The importance of hackers in the computer industry is proven by how many of the more brilliant ones get employment rather than imprisonment after committing cybercrimes.

Ethics and Hacking

As highlighted in the history of hacking, the practice’s negative connotation is well-founded considering how hackers from previous decades have used their knowledge to harm others while enriching themselves in the process. Looking and focusing solely on hacking’s negative results could provide bias on how people would regard the activity (Harvey, 2).

In order to think of hacking in a positive aspect, its positive uses should be expounded to give people a different perspective concerning hacking. Focusing on its positive uses can provide hacking and ethical aspect. Ethics, as widely defined, is about the rightness or wrongness of an action. Hacking can be either ethical or unethical (Wall, 59). It becomes ethical when its purpose is for the good of the organization or society. Hackers could be tempted to exploit the vulnerabilities of others through the use of their skills. There are other means; however, of making them use their talents in the right way so that they avoid committing crimes and using hacking for the wrong reasons. The following uses are the reasons why hacking is an ethical concept when used in the right context:

Quality Assurance. Hacker communities are the best and unbiased ways to learn more about the positive and negative sides of technologies and products introduced in the market. Hackers independently test new gadgets and technologies to check whether the manufacturers’ claims are reliable. They are not afraid to disassemble any equipment, regardless of the warnings put under the products and packages. On top of that they try to checkout and test any flaws they detect. In turn, hackers provide information on the measures needed to fix it, enabling the product to be more robust and efficient (Taylor, 18).

On-going Quest for Knowledge. Hackers are thirsty for knowledge. They would not be happy with knowing only one thing. A hacker passes time by surfing for information that he could use some time in the future. With this incessant quest for learning new things, the world is assured that the computer industry is not going to be stagnant. As long as people seek to discover new things, innovations would always happen.

Change the Learning Process. Hacking has changed some of the ways people learn. Rather than taking the traditional approach of learning in classrooms while the instructors explain the theories, hacking communities have helped people learn about technologies in a proactive and interactive manner. Hackers, particularly those who like to share knowledge, help students and professionals obtain solutions for very difficult problems without having to waste time figuring them out.

Improve Security. Hackers can destroy computer security but other hackers can prevent the damage by working with computer security developers and other companies who use computer networks. In effect, this can become a game of who becomes smarter. As a result, software and network security personnel could be provided with a wealth of evaluated information on the system’s lapses. The hackers can even find provide the ways on how to fix them so that malicious attacks can be prevented. Normally, as people get older, they become more responsible. This is also the case with many hackers who turned out to be among the most brilliant developers and security personnel in many organizations (Hahn and Layne-Farrar, 283).

Improve System Manageabilities. Not too many people know that hacking is not just about breaking and entering secure gateways. Hacking is also about creating shortcuts and automation to make most computer tasks more effective and efficient. Hacking can also be used to eliminate cumbersome and repetitive tasks. In other words, hackers find ways of making the tasks easier for themselves and for everyone as well.

Use for Crime Prevention. Instead of using hacking as a means to perpetrate crime, it can be used instead of preventing crime. Hackers can help authorities find ways to access records of known criminals to obtain information about their activities. More importantly, authorities can use hacking to track terror groups. One of the biggest threats to national security in the U.S. and other democratic states are the terror groups coming from extremist countries that are vocal in their commitment to bring chaos and destruction. It is a fact that even terror groups use technology in order to communicate with one another. Phone hacking and computer hacking can be used positively to avoid the loss of lives and the destruction of property when terrorists would attack. Hackers can also help the government secure systems, particularly those that contain confidential information. They can also, anticipate the next moves to be done by malicious hackers employed by the enemies of the state (Sands A01).

Promote Freeware. There is also an advantage to the community when hackers develop their own versions of copyrighted materials. They can make their own versions available to other people for free. By modifying the copyrighted versions and essentially making them provide similar features but different processes, hackers have followed ethical rules when handling copyrighted materials (Harvey, 2).

Other ethical uses involve the deployment and testing of electronic security for companies; the development of military applications for defensive electronic disruption and sabotage that enemy organizations would launch to obtain information or compromise data integrity; and provide access to active security systems, including cameras installed in areas connected to the Internet so that law enforcement authorities can have a better impression of a crisis situation, like in the case of hostage-taking or bank robbery wherein a camera would be very useful to determine how to solve the situation with least collateral damage.

As shown in the above examples, hacking is not just about doing malicious things. It can be an ethical process when the people who have the skills use them to improve the computer security of organizations against attacks from hostile entities. Ethics can be applied in any situation provided that the users are willing to do the right things. Even disclosing information about other hackers is an ethical decision if that person were doing something detrimental to society. At present, there are no guidelines governing ethical conduct by people who engage in this practice. It is not expected that a code of conduct would be put in place because these people generally do not want to conform to societal norms. The best way to ensure that their talents are used in the most positive manner is to provide hackers with meaningful employment that makes use of their skills and challenges their abilities to the fullest.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Hacking came as a result of people’s curiosity and quest for knowledge. It began as a harmless exercise among people who have the aptitude to understand systems created by others and exploiting vulnerabilities in order to access them. In the past, most hacking activities were concentrated on providing hackers with services without having to pay for them, like in the case of phreakers. There were others whose intent in hacking was more serious because it involved stealing confidential information or even the money of unsuspecting victims. Because hacking was introduced to the public by showing its negative side, people looked at it as something unethical.

Hacking, however, is not unethical when the people who have the skills to do this will use them creatively and positively. Hackers can make conscious decisions to avoid harming others or making illegal gains. Even if there are laws that penalize hacking, the decision to become ethical should come from hackers. They can do so by working for legitimate organizations instead of against them. Some of the things that hackers can do and are considered ethical are maintaining quality assurance by continually testing systems for defects, improving system securities, and helping authorities prevent or solve crimes by hacking into suspected groups’ computer files or telecommunication lines.

Like any other activity, hacking has its good and bad sides. Due to the opportunities for making gains the easy way, many hackers are tempted to exploit their knowledge. As a result, many people have been arrested for doing this activity. The government and private organizations though recognize that their talents should not be wasted and provided many known hackers with employment suitable to their skills and abilities.

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