The Ethics of Operating in Cyber Space
Culture, in any form, is the way things get done. Underlying the culture is a set of values and goals that define the personality of an organization and the link between members of the organization. A company’s organizational culture broadly influences employees and business performance through values, customs and related behavioral expectations.
Starbucks Corporation’s organizational culture is a distinctive characteristic of the firm. It permeates all aspects of business, including the operations of franchisees and licensees. The way café employees work with each other and how they interact with customers are indicators of company culture.
Organizational culture develops on the basis of exhibited behaviors and influences the performance of the organization. Stephen Robbins explains that “organizational culture” incorporates employee attitudes and how it relates to employee behavior in the organization.
According to Dr. Adele Da Veiga from the University of South Africa, “Cyber users pose a risk to themselves and others if they are not educated or do not know how to use cyberspace responsibly and ethically.” She points out that at least 30 percent of the loss of confidential information (e.g.., online banking) in the context of cybersecurity “can be attributed to human error and negligence. Minimizing cyber risks and cybercrime means to protect information resources connected to cyberspace and control for possible cyber-attacks.”
Da Veiga suggests that an information security culture can be defined as the attitudes, assumptions, beliefs, values and knowledge that employees and other stakeholders “use to interact with the organization’s systems and procedures at any point in time.” The interaction results in acceptable or unacceptable behavior evident in customs and traditions that become part of the way things get done in an organization to protect its information assets.”
The cybersecurity culture that results from interactions in cyberspace and built around cyber systems becomes the way things get done and promotes safety, security, privacy and civil liberties of individuals, organizations or governments.
The role of ethics in cyber culture is built around responsibility. Who is responsible for developing the systems, how are the systems managed, how are cyber risks controlled and what body oversees cybersecurity?
Like most things in an organization, the culture is based on how the values are put into play in everyday occurrences. It starts with an ethical tone at the top supported by ethical leadership. Given the relatively recent emergence of cybersecurity risks, many companies have failed to develop ethical principles or a code of ethics built around technology in the workplace and human interactions. The time is right to address these issues to protect the data of stakeholders, prevent cyber crime and incorporate behaviors into the performance evaluation system.
Posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on March 18, 2020. Dr. Mintz recently published a book Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior that is available on Amazon. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities on his website: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics.