Cloud computing and ethics
Cloud computing remains one of the major inventions and transitions of the 21st century. It involves storage of information and documents in the ‘cloud’ so that they are accessible online. The cloud comprises of domains and servers that can be accessed through different networks and internet services. This form of storage requires less use of software, thus making documents storage and accessibility cheaper in the long run. Despite many benefits that are associated with cloud computing, there are several ethical concerns that the users of this technology have to deal with as discussed in this paper.
One of the main ethical concerns that results from cloud computing is security and safety of the documents and files uploaded online. In the recent past, issues of cyber crime where sensitive data is either lost or compromised. To illustrate, WikiLeaks exposed various secretive information on the government to government communications. This form of cyber crime not only exposes the government to its citizens but also jeopardizes the country’s safety and security. Besides, cyber crimes have also led to the loss of millions of dollars when information from sensitive institutions such as banks is compromised. Cyber crime is listed among the global threats to security and safety (Callewalt et al., 2012). As such, individuals must put precautionary measures before posting or sharing the information online have to contend with the safety of the information posted. It is also fundamental to the organizations minimize disclosure of their vital information and reduce third-party access to private information. The second precautionary measure involves establishing relevant ways of securing information including enhance password protection.
The second ethical concern is the breach of confidential data. Data breach involves exposure or sharing of confidential information with unauthorized parties. When the individual has access or control over private information, there is an ethical risk of using the information for personal gain or to tarnish the name of the other party (COSO, 2012). This breach also has a legal aspect whereby the offended party can sue for damages caused by unauthorized exposure or revealing of his / her personal information. Damages may result from posting incorrect information or tarnishing of the individual’s name, especially when he holds a senior position in a recognized institution. It may also arise when an institution such as the court has given orders that such information should not be published or disseminated. There are several precautionary measures available in addressing breach of confidentiality of information. One of them is exercising reasonable care when publishing and disseminating personal and confidential information to the cloud. Some of the questions worth asking includes what is the consequence of publishing the information, what are the legal and ethical implications and is it possible to avoid publishing or disseminating the information. It is also to establish the level of confidentiality attributed to the piece of information before putting it in the cloud.
Cloud computing also presents the challenge of diminished control over a given knowledge or software code. When the information is posted online, it is always hard to control the information use that may lead to its misuse or use in the intended way. Third parties may use private information for their private gains and benefits at the cost of the information’s creator. This is unethical, considering that content generation maybe an expensive affair. To illustrate, availing a software online may lead to unlimited downloads and installation without the software developer’s information, leading to massive losses (Griffin, 2012). Further, such software may be used for the unintended uses. To avoid this risk, several measures can be put in place. They include the development of strong code words and passwords that limits information access in a given cloud, as well as securing the websites where such information and software are posted. This limits the access as well as related damages and losses that may arise from the unlimited access.
Cloud computing also presents a unique challenge of instabilities and fluctuation of the strength of different cloud. Instability of cloud software results from the interruption in the airwaves and crashes of software that supports cloud computing. This challenge may result into inaccessibility of documents and files uploaded online, which in some instances may cost the organization millions of dollars. According to Hill & Wright (2013), this challenge is common to the organizations that heavily depend on the Internet for their service delivery, such as banks and telecommunication industries. There are several precautionary measures that can be put in place to address the downtime of different networks and internet. Such includes the development of strong backup offline that can support the provision of the uptime. The backup should be well protected, maintained and secured to avoid the possibility of data breach and compromise.
Lastly, information monitoring and management is also a major ethical concern on cloud computing. In some cases, it is difficult to trace the source of the information or who manipulated given information. This is more elaborate when dealing with a public source of information that has numerous third parties involved. Such instances have led to distortion and misrepresentation of data and information, which to some extent may hurt different parties involved (Lemaire & Cara, 2012). Some of the possible redress measures include securing personal information online through password protection, as well as due care and precaution before submitting information online.
Conclusively, cloud computing poses numerous advantages and disadvantages. Some of the benefits include lowering the costs of operations and increasing convenience in accessibility of information. However, this also presents ethical challenges such as breach of confidentiality in information, management and monitoring of information, information control, as well as information security when posted online. It is important to give due consideration to sharing information online, and at the same time put relevant privacy protection control measures when information in shared online.
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