The Computer Revolution/Security/Technology Misuse
Misuse of technology
The big problem about technology misuses can be summarized in two words: culture and education. Some people aren't sufficiently cultured to use technology properly as a tool because they use it as an easy way solution or as a fashionable trends. Also, these people do not have education to use it correctly.
Because of hundreds of services that technology offers, there are many techniques to harm persons and waste time. People use their time to harm others even though they know that it is not good. For example, people manufactures use it as weapons to destroy others instead of improving themselves.
People are actually concerned about misuse and abuse of technology. Society states that internet uses lead to intimidation or threat to people as well as allowing easy piracy by providing the infrastructure to illegal music or software downloads and plagiarism. Educational institutions are worried about students' development in their classes due to misuses of technology. For instance, learners are using cellphones, playing games, and surfing on some pornographic web sites and other non suitable sites during class. Some students even start using cellphones at the age of ten. This isn't a bad thing because many parents are both working and have to leave their children with a babysitter, so they need a way to communicate with their children. Nowadays, children not only want to have cellphones, but also prefer to have the latest version of it. If children do not have it, they might feel ashamed with their friends and prefer to leave their old-fashioned cellphone at home. Moreover, many late model cellphones have built-in camera and some people use it to record pictures or videos that may damage others reputation. Because of these, some people say and think that the technology is responsible and it is not good for society. However, people have to understand that this is happening because of technology misuse. As a tool, technology do not do anything to threaten the society, it is the misuse of it that threatens society. It is humans that use technology to threaten society, the fault is at the user of the technology, not the technology itself.
Digital counterfeiting is a great example of the misuse if technology. Digital counterfeiting is the illegal act of creating copies of items such as currency, legal documents, and credit cards with the use of computers, printers, and scanners. With the high resolution and extremely good color quality of the printers offered today, individuals have increased the opportunity that’s higher than ever to create digital counterfeiting. The US Secret Service estimates that more than 60% of all counterfeited money today is created digitally. With the advancement in technology of printers, scanners, and computers, the increase of digital counterfeiting is at an all time high.
In the workplace Today’s workers are in an epidemic where work life-balance has begun to diminish due to an increased work day for many reasons but one of the most glaring reason is workers are bombarded with information due to such an advancement in technology throughout the last century (http://www.itworldcanada.com/Pages/Docbase/ViewArticle.aspx?id=idgml-48e5eb31-580c-4a40-a63a-4ed949983e8c&view=Preview). Increased progress in the field of information technology has increased the speed, quantity and how you communicate with co-workers and clients (http://www.itworldcanada.com/Pages/Docbase/ViewArticle.aspx?id=idgml-48e5eb31-580c-4a40-a63a-4ed949983e8c&view=Preview). Email and fax have dramatically increased the speed and frequency of communication in the workplace. Email allows you to communicate without actually having a physical conversation. Email also allows you to send and share documents over long distances. Fax and scanning machines are also pieces of technology that have vastly improved the communication process. Many professionals also carry tools like cell phones, blackberries and laptop computers. Essentially an employee can be reached at all times of day. This 24/7 attitude has become somewhat of a standard in the corporate world especially once you reach the higher ranks in an organization. The separation from home and work becomes blurred (http://www.itworldcanada.com/Pages/Docbase/ViewArticle.aspx?id=idgml-48e5eb31-580c-4a40-a63a-4ed949983e8c&view=Preview). Advancements in technology have also contributed to people working from home which now allows people to take their work home from there again loosing their work life balance. Although many of the increased technology has greatly improved how we do business it has also caused excess stress, strain and burnout for the average worker. When you are overloaded with anything, in this case information you tend to forget tasks, fail to prioritize therefore your tasks will be completed with less care and detail. This information overload is causing many workplace illnesses and health problems. Information overload has become part of our daily work life and it has become a standard of work however with increased health concerns we are now seeing today we need to take this topic seriously and try to think of ways to get back to a balanced healthy way of life that can handle all of the information we need to do our best at our occupation.
Workplace Crime: Productivity Issues ""Workplace Crimes & Company Employees""
a) A Look at Productivity over Time
Most prevalent among workplace productivity issues appear to be such things as fussing and theft of time and services. In fact, Michael Kanell states that “growth in the amount Americans produced each working hour last quarter fell to zero” (http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2006/11/24/1124bizproductivity.html, Retrieved Nov 27, 2006). So what has happened in the workplace to result in such dismal returns.
Historically and following primary activities of traditional society, secondary activities of manufacturing became front and center in the work world and each new tool or invention was implemented to boost production. Productivity would eventually level off under the newly adopted process (sometimes decreasing with other factors such as breakdowns), then encounter another leap forward with the next change, upgrade or invention. These productivity increases were evidenced from World War II until the more sluggish progress of the 1970s (http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2006/11/24/1124bizproductivity.html, Retrieved Nov 27, 2006).
Tertiary industries proliferated in the more modern society. Production had become highly automated and service industries became the name of the game in the business world. But how could productivity be measured in the service sector? Workers may not directly produce physical “items”, so productivity and efficiency are more difficult to determine. It became necessary to find alternative means of measuring productivity. Economic returns are one piece of evidence for productivity and one indicator of how good one’s economy is can be found in its productivity – a somewhat circular argument!
Well, one step further and one is greeted by the world of Quaternary activity – the information age – the age of computers and their connection to the world. While one has the potential to measure how many haircuts a service industry employee can do in a day’s work, it is substantially harder to measure productivity, at the least, and efficiency, even more so, in this new age. More and more enterprises have become involved in assembling, processing and transmitting information. But how can this be measured or valuated? I guess there’s money to be made somewhere for some people in this information dependent time – Bill Gates is but one example. Therefore, if there’s economic return, there must be productivity somewhere in the system if previous statements are true (Abler, R., J.S. Adams & P. Gould, 1971, Spatial Organization: The Geographer’s View of the World, Inglewood Cliffs: New Jersey, pp. 306-309; Ruben-stein, J.M. 1994. The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, pp. 300-304).
If one cannot directly measure productivity and efficiency in the workplace, then, the workplace must depend upon countering any inefficiencies and loss of productivity. At first glance, there’s a lot of work done – or appears to be – but what about output? According to Kathryn Kobe of Economic Consulting Services in Washington, “ … you are seeing … an output slowdown, which also leads to a productivity slowdown …” (http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2006/11/24/1124bizproductivity.html, Retrieved Nov 27, 2006).
If these output and productivity slowdowns are happening, what is causing them? What workplace problems exist to create this situation or is this simply part of the normal growth-stability-next leap forward cycles that existed even in earlier periods (e.g., manufacturing sector’s history)?
b) Workplace Problems & the Computer: A Waste of Time?
In my father’s words, “computers are going to be the downfall of society!” (Personal Communication, no dates) Well, maybe there is some truth to his statement after all. As we delve deeper into the workplace and its nuances, it is possible to get a clearer picture of what is truly being accomplished and what problems exist – many associated with the computer and the employee’s use of them.
I have coined the phase “counterproductive productivity” to refer to the huge amount of time wasted in the workplace associated with computer use. So much productive time is lost – even in work-related computer activities, let alone the losses chalked up to what might be referred to as “theft of computer time” by employees in non-work-related computer use. Each of these problems will be examined here.
i) No Crime, Just Lost Time …?
Williams and Sawyer (Using Information Technology: A Practical Introduction to Computers & Communications, 7th ed., Montreal: McGraw-Hill, p. 477) have referred to goofing off in the workplace as “undertime” and further noted that some amount of this downtime was tolerated in the name of workplace morale. However, with the advent of the computer and especially with their superior level of inter connectivity worldwide, computer use has resulted in “new ways to slack off.”
How long do you have to wait for that program to load and run? Did you have to spend time, energy and money (ie, yours or your employers) in software training, upgrading or problem solving? How much time are you spending awaiting some technical support? Did you count the volume of junk e-mail and spam in your in-box? How much time did you devote to reading or deleting these? Did you have to sort out disk storage issues or re-organize your computer desktop today? Then, system maintenance interruptions – how much time did you lose waiting for the problem to be fixed and for the system to be returned to operation? Oh, just 10 minutes yesterday and another half hour today. Well, it all adds up!
One news article stated that “… well over half of all emails received in the EU are unsolicited, despite the increased efforts of anti-spam and spyware to block out messages … “ and another report tallied it up and “… found that spam cost US$51.1 billion worldwide in lost productivity and higher computing bills last year.” Furthermore, Postini, an email security company, noted that “… worldwide, nine out of 10 emails are junk …” and in one month alone, “… more than 7 billion junk emails were sent worldwide … “ (http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/Article News/story/CTVNews/20061127/eu_email_061127/20061127?hub=Top Stories Retrieved Nov 27, 2006).
One word that has been adopted to describe wasting of time on computer issues or problems is “fussing,” which maybe defined as “to trouble or worry over trifles …, to get into or be in a state of … useless activity, … to vex with unimportant matters” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/fussing Retrieved Nov 27, 2006). While some of the aforementioned uses of time (e.g., waiting for computer to load) simply nibble away at your day and seem appropriately entitled as “fussing,” others can consume an inordinate amount of one’s workday. In these cases, they can truly become the “gigantic time sink” (Williams & Sawyer, p. 489) or “great campus goof-off machine” (Nate Stulman in Williams & Sawyer, p. 489).
Therefore, justice is not necessarily served in using the term “fussing.” There maybe no crime committed in the truest sense of the word because no criminal intent is involved (i.e at least by the employee), but one could just as easily view it as a crime – especially from the employer’s viewpoint. Technology has robbed the workplace of it productivity!
ii) The Real Time Crime in the Workplace
An estimated “… 8.3 hours a week …” are involved in “… non-work-related …” website “… peeking …” (Williams & Sawyer, p. 477). Add into this mixture the time spent employees may spend doing such things as downloading music, playing games and on-line shopping (Williams & Sawyer, p. 472). These become the real crimes against the employer! The ultimate, however, is possibly conducting one’s own sideline business while on the employer’s time and using his/her company’s resources. There’s multi-tasking and then there’s lost productivity and revenues (also expenses) for the other party involved in this. Wow! What better business scheme than to make money twice over – with your own business (without overhead costs) and through the “unearned” company pay cheque?
c) The “Inside Job” -- Computer Security in the Workplace
To counter some of this lost revenue and productivity, there has been an increased need and demand for surveillance techniques to monitor employees. Employers have resorted to many means, even to the point of creating separate computer security departments or divisions to deal with both the internal and external threats.
In light of the statistics available or opinions espoused, there is no wonder such measures have had to be taken. For example, one survey discovered that in the opinion of some security personnel, “… the greatest threat to their company’s technology infrastructure as a result of cyber attacks were current employees (53%), former employees (10%), and non employees (28%)” (Williams & Sawyer, p. 475). In other cases, employees may “… use information technology for personal profit or to steal hardware or information to sell. They may also use it to seek revenge for real or imaged wrongs …” and, indeed, one report found that “… the disgruntled employee is a principal source of computer crime” (Williams & Sawyer, p. 476).
d) A Final Note
So, where’s the criminal? He or she maybe seated right outside the boss's door or at the next desk. Workplace crimes can come in many forms and with many different faces, but the obvious from this brief overview is --- the technological advances in the workplace have put the employer at risk of being robbed of time, energy and resources – all in the name of products.
Edited and corrected by Dr hamza anchumukkil (PhD in IT MISUSE from California University USA) Randathani
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