Re: FWD: Real world ethical questions

Subject: Re: FWD: Real world ethical questions
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 14 Apr 2003 04:53:20 -0700 (PDT)


--- Anonymous <anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com> wrote:
> I have two pertinent ethical issues.
>
> Product X is intended for financial institutions, where security is
> important. There's a login/password authentication system. But, the
> product uses Internet Explorer as the interface. It's easy to bypass
> the system. I documented that, but the product manager told me to take
> it out, not because it wasn't true, but because he didn't want people
> to know it worked that way.
>
> Product Y is our bread-and-butter product. Some of the documentation
> is wrong. The writer got the details from the company president, who
> ordered her to write it that way because it was his "vision of how
> Product Y should work."
>
> What can we do? Times are tough.

Well, I'm reminded of the golden rule: whoever has the gold makes the rules. <g>

In the first instance, not documenting something that is a workaround, that is it is
not the way the product is intended to be used, isn't all that unusual. Sometimes
the best you can do with a security hole is not call attention to it. Probably most
people won't attempt to go that route anyway. The few that would poke around looking
for holes will find not only that one but others. I wouldn't like it, and I would
try to get the system changed (more than I would fight to document the workaround).
But beyond that, I wouldn't worry about it. It's out of your control.

The second one points to a company that is probably in more serious trouble than
documentation can fix. The company president has gotten the documentation he wants,
but he doesn't have a product that matches the documentation. People, and other
companies, by products that meet their needs. If they think they're buying one thing
and find out they've gotten something else, well that's hardly a formula for long
term health, much less success, is it?

This second situation is also one that the writer can't do anything about (see
golden rule above). But *I* think, for what it's worth, that it's a symptom of an
organization that doesn't have a long term future. I'd start looking. Yes, times are
tough, and sometimes an individual has to make tough choices. Consider that a
warning that things won't get any better at that place under the current management.

Best of luck,

=====
Tom Murrell
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com
http://home.columbus.rr.com/murrell/index.html Last Updated 03/11/2003
--Don't take yourself too seriously; nobody else does.--
(thanks to Bill Sullivan for the inspiration <g>)

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References:
FWD: Real world ethical questions: From: Anonymous

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