H-P and Pretexting

            Various ethical reasoning parameters such as deontological and utilitarian principles can be employed in investigating the rationale for retaining or forcing Ms Dunn to resign. However, logical precepts should be employed in deciding the measures to be taken to her. The manner of approaches should be in line with the basic principles of pretexting and the diameters with which this ethical activity should operate in.

            Pretexting can be defined as the process with which a set of sentitive data of a personal capacity is mined and acquired through impersonification or even deception. The illegal concept of pretexting is credited to the parametric nature of the mined data in terms of the influence and actions developed from it. The basic intention of pretexting is to provide a subset of sensitive information as well as the financial information which becomes actionable in legal perception. Pretexting is perceived as ethically correct when it comes to exposing the unfaithfulness of a spouse. With these two perceptions therefore, it would be logically rational when questioning about the nature of penalty to be provided towards Ms Dunn. Rationally, her actions in this case are subjective to legal penalties. Her resignation should never be compromised which should even follow a legal suit in a court of the law (James, 2006, p.54)

            The controversial case by Hewlett-Packard occurred in November 2006. Every rational analysis to this case should be viewed under the two concepts of ethical reasoning which encompass deontological and utilitarianism. Utilitarianism argues that the morally correct action is that which makes the biggest population happy and the least population unhappy. If the morality of Dunn’s action was to be viewed under utilitarian point of view, a quest of the most plausible punishment to Dunn would be initiated. At one level, the quest of whether resignation would yield the greatest efficiency in her capacity should be evaluated. However, the choice of the most optimal punishment on whether resignation or not can only be evaluated in terms of the corrective actions which should be waged against her. Deontological parameter seeks to weigh the various moral choices which should presume an action in providing ethical advices.


This is to imply that a balance of argument on the scope of moral choices held by Dunn were to be evaluated in order to provide the most optimal penalty that equals the moral vice in question. Accordingly, the correct moral duties which were held by her in her provision of the corrective measures ought to be evaluated. Ethically, deontological perception would question on the standards of moral obligations which she held to the members of the board and other parties who were affected by the pretexting. Both the deontological and utilitarian theories would however provide that her resignation would provide the set of maximum punishment which would equalize the effects of breach in moral concepts (Teresa, 2003, p. 57)

            Evidence of pretexting to the company came about when Dunn hired investigators of a private capacity in mining out personal phone and financial records of its reporters and board members. The investigation involved a passive pretence by the investigators as been different persons than it was known about them by the reporters and the board members through deceptive imageries and telling out the untrue. Consequently, the investigated persons revealed out various parameters about their confidential and personal information through the investigators’ creativity of been un-harmful.

            Pretexting has broadly been used by many big companies in their private investigation of persons within the corporations. For this particular case, corporate board members gave out their ZIP codes as well as the last four digits defined by the social security numbers. In the investigation process, George Keyworth who was among these board members was confirmed guilt of exposing and sharing with CNET important business information sediments. However, ethical reasoning would agree that various moral wrongs were done to the victims of this investigation when compared to the benefits provided to the company by the same (David, 2006, p.40)

            The rules of data mining, storage and use should have been investigated perhaps through processes of corporate intelligence and also industrial espionage in investigating the breach of corporate morals between George Keyworth and CNET. Ethically, the use of these two modalities is legally and morally accepted in the perceptions of the levels of competitive advantages and market factors of competition. Through their application, the exchange of vital corporate information between organizations would be examined. The investigative process held by these two processes does not imply any form of secretive investigation done through deception. However, their deductive process involves logically inquiring the levels and structures with which information was exchanged between two partisan corporations that leads to dissemination of valuable information which gives thresholds of competitive advantages in the market.

            The pretexting process used by Dunn was a passive rejection of the legal components provided by these processes. Conventionally, pretexting surpasses the frontiers of legality held by both industrial espionage and corporate intelligence. According to the Graham-Leach Blibley Act, any intend of mining confidential information of a person which is not open to the public is wrong. As a manager therefore, Ms Dunn held various moral obligations that ruled out her investigation and revelation of the financial information of her corporate colleagues. According to deontological precepts, the investigation process breached the moral activity of maintaining secret outlook about personal information of her colleagues. Consequently, Ethics provided that her actions were ideally immoral and that she deserved legal penalty of resignation which would be rational equal to her activity. Contrary to the pretexting process, Dunn should have used a morally upright framework in establishing the rationale of the problem. However, the proposition of such moral worth in the investigation process was highly deficient (Kevin, William, p.69)

            By and large, the pretexting process in this context could be compared to social evil of hacking. This implied that the investigation process was smartly driven that motivated convincing performance of using sarcastic models of reaping the insider information by well dressed technical jargons. This is a legally criminal assessment about their private personal information with which other technical and criminal crimes can be modeled from it. This can be described as theft of their important information which would then be used for different jurisdictions of criminality.


            By employing utilitarianism, an evaluation into the Dunn’s pretexting process would be weighed in terms of corporate effect of the discharged information to the CNET and the relative effect implied in the personal discharged information. However, disclosing such private information held relatively more disastrous implication than what was held by the disclosed H-P information by George Keyworth to the CNET. The bank accounts of the affected persons faced probabilities of corruptions, transaction discharges and forgeries which could be done through two ways. Firstly, such personal information would have been dabbed in making new credit cards accounting systems and change in the client’s financial zones. Therefore, this would have brought financial accounts criminal sourcing and accounts forgery. Additionally, this information would have been used in making new account passwords and also security numbers that would be used in pulling out financial transactions of heavy withdrawals (Teresa, 2007, p.32)

            Rationally therefore, Dunn’s actions would only be equaled by resignation. Ethically, Dunn had led to a moral breach of the reservations of moral obligation held in ensuring secret in their individual information. The affected parties therefore weighed moral disadvantages from their disclosed information. Despite any presumed level of losses in the company’s competitive advantage, this could not equate the loss embraced by the victims. The legal stand of Gram-Leach Bailey Act on pretexting is that it is legally inappropriate and morally wrong. According to the act, pretexting compounds various inequalities of criminal as well as legal inadequacies that may arise from its adjudication. Consequently, individuals could suffer huge financial losses in their bank accounts from this act (Emile, 2001, p.13)

            As a conclusion therefore, Dunn’s resignation restitutes this moral vice which brings a balance of legal remedy between her and the affected personalities. The legal stand should have forced her in her resignation which would be logical and legal sediment that provides appropriateness in the case.


Cheatsheet: What is Pretexting? Retrieved on 10th May 2008 from  http://valleywag.com/tech/pretexting/cheatsheet-what-is-pretexting-199844.php

David, A (2006) News Week. New York. Sept 18, Vol. 148, p.40

Emile, L (2001) Internet Fraud: Federal Trade Commission Prosecutions on Offline Conduct. Communications and the Law, Vol.23, pp.13

James, C (2006) The Federal Law Provisions on Pretexting, Security Management, Vol. 27, pp.54

Kevin, D & William, S (2002) The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of             Security. New York, John Wiley & Sons, p. 69)

Teresa, A (2003) U.S. Judicial Decisions. Security Management, Vol. 47, pp. 57

Teresa, a (2007) State Legislative Wrap-Up. Security Management, Vol.51, pp. 32