Journal of Information Systems Education (JISE)

Volume 10

Volume 10 Number 3-4, Page 47-54

Fall 1999


The Impact of Perceived Computing Security on Ethical Behavior: A Unit of Study for MIS Students


Randall S. Sexton
Computer Information Systems
Southwest Missouri State University
Springfield, MO 65804, USA

Brian J. Reithel
Department of Management and Marketing
The University of Mississippi
University, MS 38677

Ann L. Canty
Department of Management and Marketing
The University of Mississippi
University, MS 38677

Abstract: Security in computing has been compared to the security of the Wild West days. This new frontier of technology has left some corporations vulnerable to attack because of a lack of understanding or employee education on the importance and value of the information resource. By using identified factors that affect ethical decision making and behavioral choices in the business setting, we can develop a curriculum to educate future users of the information resource. A module on ethics is proposed based upon two factors, perceived probability of detection without punishment and perceived probability of detection with punishment, that can influence behavior in four ethical dilemma areas identified by previous research. This unit of study is used as a method to improve students’ awareness of the importance of the two factors as deterrents to unethical (and sometimes illegal) behavior. An instrument was developed to measure students’ predictions of ethical behavior based on the extent of the two factors. In addition, another instrument was developed to measure the students’ predictions of their colleagues’ ethical behavior. These instruments were administered and tabulated in a junior-level MIS class at a major university in order to stimulate class discussion regarding the relationship between ethics, probability of detection, and punishment. At the end of the ethics module, an anonymous survey was conducted to measure the students’ beliefs regarding the impact of the ethics module on their awareness of the role of perceived probabilities of detection without punishment. The results of the survey indicated that all participants believed that their awareness of the two factors had increased after completing the ethics unit.

Keywords: Ethics, Security, CIS education

Download this article: JISE - Volume 10 Issue 3-4, Page 47.pdf


Recommended Citation: Sexton, R. S., Reithel, B. J., & Canty, A. L. (1999). The Impact of Perceived Computing Security on Ethical Behavior: A Unit of Study for MIS Students. Journal of Information Systems Education, 10(3-4), 47.