What are the 7 Threats to Ethics? A Summary by a Cybersecurity Pro


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I have come face to face with the harsh realities of the digital world every day. Nothing is safe online – not your personal information, not your financial details, and certainly not your ethical boundaries. It may seem strange to think of ethics as a cybersecurity concern, but the truth is that they go hand in hand. And as someone who understands both sides of the coin, I can tell you that there are 7 common threats to ethics that you need to be aware of. These 7 threats can be insidious, almost invisible at times, and can sneak up on you when you least expect them. But with the right mindset and knowledge, you can protect yourself against them. In this article, I’ll give you a summary of the 7 threats to ethics, from a cybersecurity perspective. Are you ready to learn how to safeguard your ethical principles from the dangers of the digital world? Let’s dive in.

What are the 7 threats to ethics summary?

Maintaining ethical standards in any profession is crucial in building trust and integrity with clients or stakeholders. When it comes to ethical threats, there are seven broad areas that can pose as potential risks to ethical behavior. These 7 threats to ethics summary include:

  • Negative interest advocacy: This occurs when a professional promotes their own interests over the interests of their clients or the public.
  • Familiarity: When a professional’s relationship with a particular client or stakeholder causes biases, it leads to favoritism and unfair treatment of others.
  • Participation: When a professional engages in activities or behaviors that may compromise their objectivity or independence to make unbiased decisions or recommendations.
  • Self-interest: When professionals allow their self-interest rather than their professional obligations to guide their actions.
  • Self-review: When individuals or firm’s personnel are responsible for reviewing their own work or decisions, there may be a tendency to overlook errors or mistakes that may compromise the overall integrity or outcomes of the work.
  • Familiarity: A professional’s relationship with a client or stakeholder which may lead to improper preferential behavior.
  • Unjustified influence: Excessive importance given to third-parties or interests, such as political and religious affiliations, that threaten the neutrality and independence of professional judgment.
  • In conclusion, the listed threats may be more rampant in certain fields than others but they represent an essential framework to evaluate whether the ethical principles of a profession may be compromised. Cybersecurity experts should be aware of these threats and work diligently to uphold ethical standards in their day-to-day operations.

    ???? Pro Tips:

    1. Educate yourself: Keep yourself updated with the latest changes in laws, regulations, and industry standards that govern ethical practices to understand the potential threats and their impact.

    2. Identify vulnerabilities: Conduct a thorough analysis of your systems and processes to identify any potential vulnerabilities that could compromise ethical practices and develop a risk management plan accordingly.

    3. Foster a “speak-up” culture: Encourage transparency by establishing an environment where employees feel safe to raise concerns and issues, without fear of retaliation.

    4. Train your employees: Provide regular training sessions that focus on ethical standards, including topics such as data privacy, cyber threats, and social media.

    5. Conduct regular audits: Conduct regular audits to identify any gaps in your ethical practices and implement corrective measures to address them. This can include anonymous surveys and third-party audits.

    What are the 7 Threats to Ethics Summary?

    Broad Categories of Threats to Ethics

    Maintaining high ethical standards is crucial in the ever-evolving digital world as it is in any other realm of human life. Ethical principles help organizations meet the challenges of social and legal expectations while building trust with their stakeholders. Many threats fall under one or more of the 7 broad areas. They are Negative Interest Advocacy, Familiarity, Participation, Self-Interest, Self-Review, and Unjustified Influence.

    Negative Interest Advocacy

    Negative Interest Advocacy refers to situations in which an individual or a group take a stance in opposition to the best interests of the organization or client they are serving. This can manifest as an individual putting their own interest above the organization’s, such as by advocating for a decision that would benefit them personally rather than their employer. Negative Interest Advocacy can also arise in situations where an individual or group might have an agenda that seeks to harm the organization.

    One way to address Negative Interest Advocacy is to establish clear policies and guidelines for ethical behavior in the workplace. Establishing regular training for ethics and legal compliance would also be helpful. By making sure that the employees are aware of what is expected of them in terms of ethical behavior, the organization can minimize the occurrence of Negative Interest Advocacy.

    Familiarity Threats

    Familiarity Threats occur when family relationships, close friendships, or long-standing business relationships compromise an individual’s judgment and objectivity. Familiarity often leads to a reluctance to make difficult choices that may affect close associates. As a result, these individuals may overlook ethical considerations to benefit those close to them. In many cases, such individuals may rationalize their decision as being in the best interest of the company or organization.

    To address Familiarity Threats, organizations can establish policies to avoid favoritism or conflicts of interest. For example, organizations should have policies that require employees to disclose any relationships with other employees, vendors or suppliers. These procedures should also provide for recusal when appropriate.

    Participation Threats

    Participation Threats arise when an individual compromises their objectivity by allowing others to influence their judgment. This can occur in situations where individuals allow others to dominate conversations and decision-making processes that are supposed to be impartial. Such scenarios can undermine impartiality, prevent the identification of problems, or the right solutions.

    To address Participation Threats, organizations should establish policies that promote open and transparent communication. At the same time, they should also provide procedures that empower participants to speak up when they feel the group is not considering all the relevant information or when they feel others are dominating the conversation.

    Self-Interest Threats

    Self-Interest Threats occur when individuals make decisions based on how the choice will impact them personally, rather than based on the organization’s best interest or the interests of their clients. This can occur in situations where an individual stands to benefit financially or gain recognition by making a self-serving decision that might conflict with the organization’s best interest.

    Organizations can address Self-Interest Threats by establishing clear guidelines regarding conflicts of interest and the standards for ethical behavior. They should also have procedures for monitoring and detecting potentially unethical behavior.

    Self-Review Threats

    Self-Review Threats, also known as self-assessment or self-evaluation threats, arise when an individual is put in a position where they must critique their own work or that of their close associates. This can lead to a conflict of interest because the individual may evaluate their work less objectively and be reluctant to report deficiencies in that work.

    To address Self-Review Threats, organizations must establish policies requiring reviews to be conducted by a competent individual who is independent of the evaluated work’s preparation.

    Unjustified Influence Threats

    Unjustified Influence Threats arise when an individual or a group has the opportunity to exert undue influence on an individual’s objectivity or independence. For example, a decision-maker might be placed under pressure to make a particular decision because of threats or revenge resulting from their decision thereby impairing their ability to have independent judgment.

    Organizations can address Unjustified Influence Threats by establishing clear guidelines and procedures for fair treatment. They should also have procedures for individuals to raise concerns or make reports without fear of retaliation.


    Maintaining ethical behavior in the workplace is a continuous process that requires the utmost commitment to a higher standard. Organizations must acknowledge the existence of these threats to ethics and take proactive steps to address them by implementing robust guidelines and procedures, promoting open and transparent communication, and establishing cultures of accountability. The ultimate goal is not only to preserve the organization’s reputation but also to foster trust with the stakeholders.