Ethics of government sponsored hacking

Is government sponsored/authorized hacking ethical?

Yes
2
18%
No
3
27%
Undecided
3
27%
Why are you asking and what do you know?
3
27%
 
Total votes : 11
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geekyone

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Post Tue May 13, 2008 1:56 pm

Ethics of government sponsored hacking

A random ethics question popped into my head this morning while I was waiting for the metro.  Is it ethical to hack into a system if your government is paying/authorizing/encouraging this activity, for simplicity sake we will assume using Black Hat techniques?

Now I want to caveat this is theoretical, I have no personnel experience with this type of activity.

From a legal standpoint it depends a lot on the specific scenario and could be debated endlessly but I was wondering from a purely ethical point of view.  I really can't decide for myself if this would be ethical or not so I am looking forward to some good responses.  No wrong answers here I just want to find out what everyone thinks.
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LSOChris

Post Tue May 13, 2008 9:52 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

well murder is pretty much wrong in every country but we still have state sponsored assassinations and those seem to be ok.
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oneeyedcarmen

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Post Tue May 13, 2008 10:43 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

ChrisG wrote:well murder is pretty much wrong in every country but we still have state sponsored assassinations and those seem to be ok.


but, of course WE don't do that  ::)
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Negrita

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Post Thu May 15, 2008 3:36 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

Here's an analogy; If a soldier goes to war and kills an enemy soldier then the enemy soldier is considered as killed in action, and not considered as murdered. The killing soldier has the protection of the army and of his government. Any accusations about the death of the enemy soldier should not be addressed to the soldier that did the killing.
If the same soldier goes to war and starts to kill civilians then this would be considered murder and the soldier should be held responsible.

So basically it depends on who you are attacking and who's backing you up.
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RoleReversal

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Post Fri May 16, 2008 2:59 am

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

Negrita,

nice analogy, I hadn't thought of it like that. Personally though I'm not sure I like the idea of 'x' told me to do it so it's ok (but then I would be useless in the armed forces aswell).

I think whether it is right or wrong can only ever be decided on a per-case basis with a specific target and specific scenario. Most would agree if we can remove a server hosting active terrorist (term used loosely) plans or child porn then it is the 'right' thing to do. Merely being right because it's government sponsored isn't the case. If a soldier killed an clearly unarmed, non-violent enemy combatant then there is, or should be, questions to be asked.

IMO, the main question behind this issue that each practictioner must ask themselves is:
'What would I be willing to do for my government?'.
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LSOChris

Post Fri May 16, 2008 9:23 am

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

yes but since its government/state sponsored it seems in most cases it would be legal...obviously ethical is an entirely different matter.

but since in most cases you wouldnt see the physical damage if any of your actions i dont think most people with the skills would mind that much.
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Infernox222

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Post Mon May 19, 2008 10:01 am

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

It is my understanding that a 'ethical' hacker is an individual hired by a company or other individual with written permission to proform pentest on said company or individuals systems. That being said - how is it ethical to hack an individuals systems without permission? Just because the government gives permission does not mean it right. Then again this is my opinion on the subject. I guess think of it on a smaller scale. If the government says "go steal <object> from Wal-mart" does that make it legal? Yes (in a way - no legal recourse atleast) Does it make it ethical? No. The company in question would lose revenue for the object taken. Call me crazy but im a solid 'no' for ethical and border-line illegal in my opinion.



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LSOChris

Post Mon May 19, 2008 8:32 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

but you wouldnt help if the government said go attack N Korea, Iran, China, etc?

its also unrealistic to compare "go steal that from walmart" and "go steal that from a bad guy/insert countryX here"
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g00d_4sh

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Post Tue Jun 10, 2008 8:55 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

Last estimate I saw, we were nailed with roughly 80k attacks from just China last year... I don't think it would be un-ethical for the US to flip some crap back.  ;)  The whole.... "Fool me once... " etc etc.  If they're going to continue spitting in our eye, I see no reason for not pissing in their milk.  (kind of an inside joke...)
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RoleReversal

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Post Wed Jun 11, 2008 6:44 am

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

g00d_4sh wrote:I don't think it would be un-ethical for the US to flip some crap back.  ;)


It might by not be unexpected, but from an ethical viewpoint this could be a small step down a slippery slope.

"look...it's right there in the logs. Lets get that IP address off line...."

IMO, the only truely ethical solution to these kinds of attacks is to get your defenses and security to a level where the attacks have no impact. Once your defenses are tight enough that there is no impact then the attackers might just get bored and go home (only in a perfect world I know....).

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g00d_4sh

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Post Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:14 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

I suppose I'm a bit more 'liberal' in my take.  I think if another country has already began engagement on a cyber front with annoying probes/attacks, the glove has already been thrown so to say.  Or... stealing diplomat laptops/copying it... and other fun little gestures.  I figure if Joe Bob lets his dog crap on my lawn, I'll throw his dog crap back at his house.  (Already done, but they weren't called Joe Bob).  Same sort of idea.  My analogies are not perfect by any means, but I'm not going to guilt someone for kicking someone in the groin, if said person had just been punched in the face. 

All in all, it's a bit of a grey area though.  Since how do we KNOW that those attacks are comming from said other countries, and not some conspiracy cooked up by PR people to drive public opinion.  Honestly, how can one truly know?  I just figure I don't really think cyber engagements between countries are any more reprehensible or different than physical military ones.  And though I am not a fan of all current tactics, at times physical engagement is a need.  Why would cyber be much different.  I think we all know... regardless of how much you 'harden' a system, if you have a dick constantly attacking it, eventually a hole will be found.  Why not smack them in the sack with a ddos to say... 'piss off.'  That's my two cents.  Not that I would know anything about that.
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phn1x

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Post Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:18 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

I think ethics are largely in the eyes of the beholder. I know your ethics differ from mine. Of course as a prior service person i also know I'd do anything to keep the country headed on course. Is State Sponsored hacking ethical? Who knows, but it's legal if thats your job, and therefore your  not going to get in trouble for it. Personally I like the concept, I've been waiting for my recruitment call... It just hasnt come yet :(. Too much red tape anyway!

One comment though made me consider the rant from good will hunting. There would be the indirect results from your actions. I mean indirect in the sense you'd never see them but this is just priceless and kind of applicable.I really wish I could come up with something like this.

Why shouldn't I work for the NSA? That's a tough one. But I'll take a shot. Say I'm working at the NSA, and somebody puts a code on my desk, somethin' no one else can break. Maybe I take a shot at it and maybe I break it. And I'm real happy with myself, cus' I did my job well. But maybe that code was the location of some rebel army in North Africa or the Middle East and once they have that location, they bomb the village where the rebels are hiding... Fifteen hundred people that I never met, never had no problem with get killed. Now the politicians are sayin', "Oh, Send in the marines to secure the area" cus' they don't give a shit. It won't be their kid over there, gettin' shot. Just like it wasn't them when their number got called, cus' they were off pullin' a tour in the National Guard. It'll be some kid from Southie over there takin' shrapnel in the ass. He comes back to find that the plant he used to work at got exported to the country he just got back from. And the guy who put the shrapnel in his ass got his old job, cus' he'll work for fifteen cents a day and no bathroom breaks. Meanwhile he realizes the only reason he was over there in the first place was so that we could install a government that would sell us oil at a good price. And of course the oil companies used the little skirmish over there to scare up domestic oil prices. A cute little ancillary benefit for them but it ain't helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon. They're takin' their sweet time bringin' the oil back, of course, maybe even took the liberty of hiring an alcoholic skipper who likes to drink martinis and fuckin' play slalom with the icebergs, it ain't too long 'til he hits one, spills the oil and kills all the sea life in the North Atlantic. So now my buddy's out of work. He can't afford to drive, so he's walking to the fuckin' job interviews, which sucks because the shrapnel in his ass is givin' him chronic hemorrhoids. And meanwhile he's starvin' cus' every time he tries to get a bite to eat the only blue plate special they're servin' is North Atlantic scrod with Quaker State. So what did I think? I'm holdin' out for somethin' better. I figure fuck it, while I'm at it why not just shoot my buddy, take his job, give it to his sworn enemy, hike up gas prices, bomb a village, club a baby seal, hit the hash pipe and join the National Guard? I could be elected President."
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oneeyedcarmen

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Post Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:29 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

[quote=phn1x]...helping my buddy at two-fifty a gallon.[/quote]

So sad that I now long for those days.
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g00d_4sh

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Post Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:11 pm

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

Gas is now 4.25 for the cheap watery crap in my area.... it is painful.  Thank goodness for the free pub transit for Feds.  I bus it most the way to work, which saves me a ton in gas and parking.
"Bad.. Good?  I'm the guy with the gun"
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mortalking

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Post Sat Jun 14, 2008 6:40 am

Re: Ethics of government sponsored hacking

i thnk it is not ethical to hack any ones computer even though it is sponsered by the Govt of a nation
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