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An Ethical Argument for High-Security IT. By Sandro Gaycken

In short by Cornelius Sturm

Cyberwarfare presents new possibilities for perpetrating conflicts. In ethical assessments of military uses for modern information technology, context is critical. Cyberwars can be conducted without bloodshed, but may still serve unjust ends.

While many discussions about cyberwarfare consider possible future scenarios, Dr. Sandro Gaycken believes that the current state of IT security already gives cause for concern. Attackers are growing in number and strike power, and include intelligence services as well as criminal organizations. At the same time, investments in improving IT security are either not being made or are misguided. According to Gaycken, key paradigms of the IT security industry are outdated and no match for modern cyberwarfare.

From an ethical perspective, widespread tolerance of known security issues by businesses and militaries is particularly disturbing. In addition, the growing number of attackers increases the potential for conflict, while disproportionately severe reactions to cyberattacks create the risk of escalation.

Yet to a large extent, ethical problems could be avoided by reducing the prevalence of security flaws. Various high-security IT systems have been developed in scientific projects, but so far have not been adopted in the IT industry. Gaycken believes that in view of rising threats from cyber warfare, vulnerable IT structures are a danger to peace and security throughout the world.

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