In this new age of spreading information technology in day to day activities, hacking also known as cybercrime, is the greatest challenge users face in preventing sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands. Preventing infiltration of operating systems in organizations is also another major challenge faced by corporates, mainly banks, who are easy prey to criminals aiming to profit from manipulating their digital money distribution channels. Attacks on banks have been reported as recently as August 2016, when a recent communique sent to banks to tighten their security after cyberattacks was reported around the world, (Riley & Mullen, 2016). According to the Computer Ethics Institute (CEI) guidelines The Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics, hacking goes against almost all of them, with the express aim of causing operational or financial harm to the victims of the attacks.
Quite a number of high profile cases of hacking have been reported recently. The electronics and gaming giant Sony was a victim of such an attack for a period from late November to early December in 2014. A group by the name “Guardians of Peace” forced access to their databases and established control over it by use of malware-infected into Sony servers. In the course of about three weeks that they were in control of the systems, they performed various tasks that were aimed at inflicting maximum harm on the company.
Among the crimes committed was releasing to the public confidential information in the form of terabytes of personal emails, contacts, and addresses from Sony Pictures employees and highly confidential financial information about the company. Movies that were in the production process at the studio were also made available for download on torrent websites, against the norm for studios, as this reduces the revenue earned from official releases. Speculative analysts attributed the attack to a movie that was to be released on December 25th, called “The Interview”, which was believed by some to be disrespectful to the North Korean leader. The FBI was said to have been investigating the connection between the hackers and North Korea, and ultimately, no conclusive reason was found to link them, (RBS, 2014).
This hack was a clear targeted attack, and it broke nearly each and every one of the commandments of computer ethics. The only two commandments it appears not to have infringed was commandment number 4, which warns against the use of a computer to bear false witness, and commandment 9, which states that one should think about the consequences of the program they are writing or a system they are designing. This is only because no system was designed in this case, and they used programs in use at Sony, rather than write their own. All the rest of the commandments were broken thoroughly by the furlough into private communications; terrible harm was caused to the company and both financial and social harm occurred to the employees whose email were leaked.
Further damage was suffered by the company as for the whole two or more weeks they were under siege; little or no activities were carried out. Their operations were interfered with, information was stolen and unlawfully released, intellectual output in the form of movies still in production was also appropriated; no consideration was shown in releasing personal emails of Sony Pictures’ employees either. Overall, this was a case of high-profile breaking of all commandments of computer ethics, intentionally and without any considerations for the consequences, and it permanently rattled Sony Pictures.
The outcome was that at the end of it was that the adverse losses suffered by Sony caused many companies to get more advanced cyber protection software and specialists, to prevent the event of such an attack on them. This is especially because Sony lost a reported $15 million dollars in the attack and the aftermath, as well as fallout with some partners over the exposure caused by the attack. The FBI continued investigations without concluding on the identity of the hackers, and the only way for people to prevent themselves from such attacks emerged as being diligent in preventing malware buildup in their system, as was found to be the case with Sony.