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REVIEW: "IT Ethics Handbook", Stephen Northcutt

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Ha
    BKITETHB.RVW 20041010 IT Ethics Handbook , Stephen Northcutt, 2004, 1-931836-14-0, U$49.95/C$69.95 %A Stephen Northcutt stephen@sans.org %C 800 Hingham
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 13, 2004
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      BKITETHB.RVW 20041010

      "IT Ethics Handbook", Stephen Northcutt, 2004, 1-931836-14-0,
      %A Stephen Northcutt stephen@...
      %C 800 Hingham Street, Rockland, MA 02370
      %D 2004
      %G 1-931836-14-0
      %I Syngress Media, Inc.
      %O U$49.95/C$69.95 781-681-5151 fax: 781-681-3585 www.syngress.com
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1931836140/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/1931836140/robsladesin03-20
      %P 604 p.
      %T "IT Ethics Handbook"

      This isn't a very good book about ethics, but it is a useful book.
      It's just got the wrong title.

      The introduction doesn't provide any proper background to the study of
      ethics. The brief review of related terms doesn't give much in the
      way of help: ethics are defined as personal principles, and
      differentiated from morals only in that the latter are assumed to be
      accepted from some outside source. (This distinction makes ethics
      appear to be the base, uneducated, conscience.) Most of the anecdotes
      listed deal with cultural, rather than ethical, issues.

      The work contains hundreds of questions or scenarios. These are
      divided into twenty topical chapters, although the categorization
      isn't particularly solid. Chapter one, "System Administration and
      Operations," starts off with a series of items more directly related
      to development, even though there is a "Programmers and Systems
      Analysts" chapter later on. Each item is presented with a
      "conservative" view, a "liberal" perspective, and a summary. (There
      are also "soapboxes" and anecdotes, bringing personal views and real
      experiences to the discussion. I'd forgotten that I'd actually
      submitted one, until I came across it on page 500.) Interesting
      points are raised, but these are seldom based in ethics, tending to
      deal more with standards of formal policy as opposed to the messy
      practicalities of life.

      It is, in fact, in the field of policy creation and review that this
      volume should be used. Over and over again it challenges commonly
      accepted policies and practices in the security field. Is your usage
      policy flexible enough to cover all cases? Does your monitoring
      policy run counter to the law? Does your disclosure policy help or
      hinder the development of secure products?

      The book raises lots of questions, although it provides few answers.
      (What advice exists is occasionally contradictory, such as the
      recommendations regarding email monitoring on page 33 versus 107.) At
      times the material doesn't even deal with policy issues: chapter
      five's content on email scams is more relevant to personal security
      matters such as phishing.

      Some, although relatively few, of the items can be used for scenarios
      when discussing ethics. Almost all of the questions can be used
      during an assessment of the coverage of a corporate security policy.
      So, yes, the book is useful for those in the security field. (It
      would have been even more useful if an index had been included.)

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2004 BKITETHB.RVW 20041010

      ====================== (quote inserted randomly by Pegasus Mailer)
      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      ...a State, which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more
      docile instruments in its hands even for beneficial purposes,
      will find that with small men no great thing can really be
      - John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), On Liberty and Utilitarianism
      http://victoria.tc.ca/techrev or http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade
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