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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

When ethics and IT collide, 14.9.07


It still weighs heavily on Bryan's mind, what he found on that executive's computer, especially when he thinks of his own daughters. He's particularly troubled that the man he discovered using a company computer to view pornography of Asian women and of children was subsequently promoted and moved to China to run a manufacturing plant.

"To this day, I regret not taking that stuff to the FBI," says Bryan.

It happened six years ago, when Bryan, who asked that his last name not be published, was IT director for the U.S. division of a $500 million multinational corporation based in Germany.

The company's Internet usage policy, which Bryan helped develop with input from senior management, specifically prohibited the use of company computers to access pornographic or adult-content Web sites. One of Bryan's duties was to monitor employee Web surfing using SurfControl and report any violations to management.

Bryan knew that the executive, who was a level above him in another department, was popular both within the U.S. division and the German parent. So when SurfControl turned up dozens of pornographic Web sites visited by the exec's computer, Bryan figured "my best course of action was to follow the policy."

"That's what it's there for," he reasoned. "I wasn't going to get into trouble for following the policy." He went to his manager with copies of the Web logs in question (which he still has in his possession and made available to Computerworld for verification).

Continue reading the article on ComputerWorld. The article is long and intensive, followed by a strong discussion forum.

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Hacker / security expert charged with massive credit card theft, 13.9.07

Computer World

A California man who served jail time for hacking hundreds of military and government computers nine years ago was charged yesterday with new computer crimes: stealing tens of thousands of credit card accounts by breaking into bank and card processing networks.

Max Ray Butler, 35 of San Francisco, a.k.a Max Vision, and also known by his online nicknames of Iceman, Digits and Aphex, was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of transferring stolen identity information. Arrested last week in California, where he remains, Butler could face up to 40 years in prison and a $1.5 million fine if he is convicted on all five counts.

According to the indictment, Butler hacked multiple computer networks of financial institutions and card processing firms, sold the account and identity information he stole from those systems, and even received a percentage of the money that others made selling merchandise they'd purchased with the stolen card numbers. The U.S. Secret Service ran the investigation into the hacks and resulting scams, which took place between June 2005 and September of this year.

Butler was charged in Pittsburgh because he'd sold data on 103 credit card accounts to a Pennsylvanian who was cooperating with authorities.

He and others also operated a Web site used as a meeting place for criminals who bought and sold credit card and personal identity information. "As of September 5, 2007, Cardsmarket had thousands of members worldwide," the indictment read. Although the site was still online as of Wednesday morning, the forums had been deleted. A message posted by a forum administrator identified as achilous said he had erased the threads when news of Butler's arrest broke.

"Everybody who hasn't already done so, I would strongly advise that you delete all PMs you have saved," achilous advised. "Also, any unsecured data you have, now would be the time to make sure it is very strongly encrypted. These precautions seemed justified given the severity of the situation. It may only be a matter of time before a government agency takes over this forum, and I did not want them to get the raw SQL database containing all the threads and posts."

Although some documents in the case remain sealed, including one or more affidavits, news reports cited grand jury witnesses who had told of Butler selling tens of thousands of stolen credit card accounts. A former partner who had been arrested in May reportedly claimed that Butler supplied him with a thousand numbers each month for more than two years, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Achilous called Christopher Aragon, 47, the Californian named in the Tribune-Review story, a "rat" for fingering Butler. Aragon was arrested with another man, Guy Shitrit, 23, in Newport Beach, Calif. on May 12 at a local shopping mall after buying more than $13,000 worth of Coach handbags using counterfeited American Express, credit cards at Bloomingdales. Police found more than 70 bogus credit cards on the pair.

After he was arrested, Aragon was banned from the Cardsmarket forums, said achilous, for "security" reasons.

Prosecutors in Pittsburgh said that Butler used high-powered antenna in "war-driving" style attacks to hack wireless access to computer networks at organizations that included the Pentagon Federal Credit Union and Citibank.

Butler is no stranger to the judicial system. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to charges that he hacked military and other government computers three years prior, including those belonging to the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and NASA. He was also accused of breaching the network of id Software, developers of the PC games "Doom" and "Quake," and stealing several hundred access passwords to a California Internet service provider.

Butler pleaded guilty to one felony count, even though he continued to proclaim his innocence, saying that he had found an unpatched vulnerability in government networks then written software to scan for the hole and close it. Prosecutors at the time, however, said Butler also added a "back door" to every system his software penetrated, giving him secret access to the networks.

Ironically, Butler, then 28, was a well-known security researcher before his arrest, frequently posting to security mailing lists. He had also created arachNIDS, a once-popular open source collection of attack signatures used intrusion detection systems. During court hearings in 2000, it also came to light that he had been an FBI informant for at least two years, and perhaps as many as five years, before his arrest.

Butler was sentenced in May 2001 and served 18 months in federal prison and three years' probation.

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Why We Aren't as Ethical as We Think We Are, 10.9.07

HBS (pdf)

People commonly predict they will behave more ethically in the future than they actually do. When evaluating past (un)ethical behavior, they also believe they behaved more ethically than they actually did. New research discusses why.

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Integrity Incorporated

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"We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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