Discussion of
police and
computer security measures

Copyright Peter Timusk © 2000

    Contemporary police are being trained to use computers. Supreme court decisions show police using computers to checkout suspects out from their police cars. One case from the Supreme court shows police accessing hydro records to bust a marijuana grower using to much power. This seems like the police would know how to use hacking if they were to practice it. But what are police doing about hackers?
    There is a special section of both the RCMP
and the local Ottawa Police for crimes involving computers. Amazon.com is selling books for investigating computer crime, and seizing and submitting as evidence computers. Laws have been written to cover electronics and telecommunications[13].
    Section 322, 326, 342, 430 of the Canadian criminal code cover hackers. As well bills such as C-17 are produced to fight computer crime.[25]
    According to the book Computer Crime[13], a problem greater than hackers for computer security can be human  error. As well, computers are susceptible to fire, water, and other environmental damage. This book claims to be an FBI manual changed only slightly for public sale.
    But Computer Crime lists numerous techniques for stopping hackers. First and foremost are passwords. Passwords seem nefarious and yet many ordinary people are taught by manuals, Internet web pages, and computer books to make good passwords. Does the end, privacy, justify the means, passwords? If, in the end,  no one breaks into the users' computer files, and that is the only effect of passwords, then perhaps,  we could justify passwords under consequential ethics. But I am guessing that absolute privacy can not be be justified under deontological ethics, because there are times when privacy must be breached, as in the case of search warrants. Thus, no universal maxim can be made about privacy. So perhaps passwords are not ethically the best defense against hackers.
    Techniques for assessing  security  risk for files and value of our files are also offered in Computer Crime. Backing up files is one technique of protection. To protect my files on my home computer, for instance, where I write journals, school work and some fiction, I have triple backed up my files to floppy and zip disks. This way if my hard drive were to fail or my computer were to be lost, damaged or stolen, I could find a similar computer with similar software and still have access to my work. In fact, I sold a computer I used from 1995-1998 but kept all the back up disks, bought a less expensive laptop computer, and was able to open my important files. I keep two copies of the backups at my apartment and one copy in another location with my parent.  I have assessed this as a reasonable cost to protect myself and my files.
    The question of whether I will implement the suggestions in Computer Crime to profile potential hackers of my home computer, leads again to a nefarious shading of what is, after all, just me using a computer to write English and make the occasional program, web page or GIS file. This is a key point. Because we must use computers, we must trade off by being involved in law enforcement. This is okay in normal circumstances, such as locks on doors, but in the case of computer security I believe we are being required to be extreme. This is  partly because computers originated  in the military. Computers are not entering the world innocent, they are used for bad already as is the case of wars fought with computers and compurterised weapons.

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Copyright Peter Timusk © 2000, 2001. Last updated May 3rd,  2001. Created August 28th, 2000.
Web site for 32.214,  Carleton University.
Course Professor: Diane E. Dubrule Assistant Professor and Web Master Department of Philosophy.