An Introduction to Cybersecurity Ethics

Link to module

Evaluated December 2021

This module explores deepfakes through text and video assessment. The argument is made that cybersecurity is intimately entangled with ethics. It emphasizes the social and ethical aspects of the work of cybersecurity, rather than the potential for technical fixes. While it doesn’t explicitly say “the solution is social,” it thoroughly avoids solutionism (the idea that there are technical fixes for all problems).

This module covers material in Information, Assurance, and Security/Cybersecurity. 

Instructors adopting this module will find a carefully scaffolded module that is self-contained. In preparation for instruction, instructors will have an opportunity to read material that is well developed. Connecting with someone from philosophy would be of assistance in interpreting ethical theories. It may be tempting to grade the short essays based on “right answers,” if the instructor is used to teaching only technical material. Recognizing what is a thoughtful, as opposed to “right,” answer may take a little work and may be aided by conversation with faculty in other fields, for example philosophy or sociology. This is a two-week module, if done in full. The argument is made that cybersecurity is intimately entangled with ethics and that this is a very appropriate use of class time. However, shorter versions are sketched in the instructor notes. It may be more challenging to integrate into early curriculum courses that are packed with technical content where clearing space is challenging. The module doesn’t directly pair with technical learning goals in Computer Science courses, which means that it would likely need to replace (rather than augment) existing content in some of those courses.

Assessment opportunities are present depending upon the understanding of grading and assessment related to both technical responses and substantive development. However, while there are some suggestions on grading present, there is no direct information on assessment of learning outcomes. 


The evaluation of this module was led by Judy Goldsmith and Evan Peck as part of the Mozilla Foundation Responsible Computer Science Challenge. Patrick Anderson, Emanuelle Burton, Colleen Greer, Darakhshan Mir, Jaye Nias, and Marty J. Wolf also made contributions. These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.