Software vulnerability due to practical drift

Ethics and Information Technology 9 (2):89-100 (2007)
The proliferation of information and communication technologies (ICTs) into all aspects of life poses unique ethical challenges as our modern societies become increasingly dependent on the flawless operation of these technologies. As we increasingly entrust our privacy, our well-being and our lives to an ever greater number of computers we need to look more closely at the risks and ethical implications of these developments. By emphasising the vulnerability of software and the practice of professional software developers, we want to make clear the ethical aspects of producing potentially flawed software. This paper outlines some of the vulnerabilities associated with software systems and identifies a number of social and organisational factors affecting software developers and contributing to these vulnerabilities. Scott A. Snook’s theory of practical drift is used as the basis for our analysis. We show that this theory, originally developed to explain the failure of a military organisation, can be used to understand how professional software developers “drift away” from procedures and processes designed to ensure quality and prevent software vulnerability. Based on interviews with software developers in two Norwegian companies we identify two areas where social factors compel software developers to drift away from a global set of rules constituting software development processes and methods. Issues of pleasure and control and difference in mental models contribute to an uncoupling from established practices designed to guarantee the reliability of software and thus diminish its vulnerability.
Keywords Science   Technology and Society studies   practical drift   professional ethics   software development and use   software vulnerability
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10676-006-9123-1
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 29,440
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit.S. Turkle - 1985 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 63:520.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Software is an Abstract Artifact.Nurbay Irmak - 2012 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 86 (1):55-72.
What is Software?Peter Suber - 1988 - Journal of Speculative Philosophy 2 (2):89-119.
Free Software and the Economics of Information Justice.S. Chopra & S. Dexter - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (3):173-184.
Toward a Profile of Student Software Piraters.Ronald R. Sims, Hsing K. Cheng & Hildy Teegen - 1996 - Journal of Business Ethics 15 (8):839 - 849.
Ethical Responsibilities of Software Developers in Developing Simulations.William Spees - 2001 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 15 (1):59-64.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
20 ( #251,629 of 2,180,418 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #302,815 of 2,180,418 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums