Ethical Issues in Management Information Systems

Businesses usually have a major concern on matters related to information security. The FBI/Computer Security survey carried out in 2004 revealed that over 50 percent of the close to 500 respondents interviewed had at least encountered a serious security threat on the use of their computer systems. In addition, over three billion dollars were recorded as losses accrued by those interviewed. It is therefore imperative to improve the security level of information systems in order to counter the possibility of suffering heavy monetary losses.

In order to boost the security level of information systems, proper management of sensitive databases is necessary (Cohen & Cornwell, 1989). For instance, security equipment can be installed to deter intruders from accessing sensitive data. Such security equipment includes but not limited to anti-virus programs, systems that can automatically detect intruders as well as firewalls. Ethical practice is also another solution to information. Ethics has been defined as “the principle of right and wrong that individuals, acting as free moral agents, use to make choices to guide their behaviors” (Lee, Dark & Chen, 2005). This paper explores the importance of improving the moral standards of the information systems users through the application of ethical practices as the most pragmatic and effective way of ensuring security on sensitive information.

There are a myriad of ethical behavioral patterns worth practicing either at an individual level or at workplace. Some of the ethical behaviors include honesty, truthfulness, respect for other people, transparency when carrying out duties, ability to be accountable on every step taken, being consistent with good practices, keeping promises, fairness, concern for others as well as confidentiality on sensitive matters affecting others. For example, it is important to consider the effect of any action taken before executing it. This implies that honesty is paramount when discharging duties (Freeman & Peace, 2005). Being truthful is equally a worthy character to develop. As an ethical person, one should bear in mind that practicing falsehood at workplace is not fruitful. In addition, respect for oneself should be extended towards others. This will go a long way in practicing fairness and being considerate on the needs of others.

Confidentially plays a very important role as part of ethical practice in the management of information systems. All professions that make use of information systems often treat confidentiality as a very important component in their practice. Hence, a professional in management information system who is ethical will always visualize the need of maintaining the confidentiality of other people’s profiles. For example, acquiring passwords by wrong means to access private databases is unethical.

Another importance of practicing ethical behavior in management information systems is that the integrity of an organisation will not be compromised. Information is a very powerful tool in management and any slight interference with the same might lead to heavy losses. For instance, plagiarizing the contents of a company website and using the same to develop another website as a way of advancing completion is unethical. Management information system profession faces a myriad of ethical issues owing to the growing need for information sharing and technological development. One of the likely ethical issues that can be faced by a management information system professional is the inability to understand the right and obligations to information. Secondly, the protection of intellectual property with the emergence of the digital age is a major ethical issue of concern (Cohen & Cornwell, 1989). it is much easier to share online files than before. Thirdly, information accountability is paramount. Suppose an individual is harmed by a certain piece of information, who will be responsible? Other ethical issues include sensitive information that should be preserved, misusing of office supplies, too much breaks on the basis of “sickness”, lack of neatness in working areas, making personal calls at the expense of the company, poor use of information machines installed at workplace and accessing sensitive company databases without permission.

In summing up the paper, it is imperative to note that it is only through the practice of ethical behavior that information security and intellectual property can be achieved. Ethical behavioral patterns such as honesty, transparency and accountability are the foundations of ethical practice worth emulating in the management of information systems.


Cohen, E. and Cornwell, L. (1989). “A Question of Ethics: Developing Information System Ethics”. Journal of Business ethics, 8(6): 431-437.

Freeman, L. and Peace, G.A. (2005). “Information ethics: privacy and intellectual property”, London: Idea Group inc.

Lee, H.; Dark, M. and Chen, L. K. (2005). “Incorporating ethics into management information systems curriculum in business schools”. 6(1): 360-364.

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