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Every case that revolves around the breach of a specific law will always have a strong moral aspect. As a result, the sides involved in the resolution of the case may be faced with a complicated web of connections and relations by which the choice is made involving who is guilty as well as to what degree. The case discussed in this paper is an excellent example of an ethical challenge in which one participating company must decide on a course of action including whether to continue as one of the parties in the case.
The problem lies in the fact that there are multiple sides to the conflict, each of which possesses different interests. In a situation like this one, critical thinking is a necessary and valuable skill that can help the agent to come up with a logical and rational decision regarding further action. The benefit from the application of critical thinking lies in the provision of clarity and distinction when it comes to the perspectives as they are perceived by each side, including their interests. Thus, the practice of critical thinking is a tool that can be used to reach an effective resolution of a complicated and multifaceted case that has many sides and several interests that are in conflict.
Explanation of the Issue
The issue under analysis involves several unrelated organizations and lawsuits. In particular, the company under consideration, Cybertech, is serving as a cyber forensics consultant for a law firm that is using the services of Cybertech’s professionals in order to resolve a case of hacking. The incident occurred in 2015, and the victim was an organization called the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The suspect, in this case, is a non-US organization known as Anomolous.
The hacking in question compromised background information for several million employees and resulted in a significant amount of damage to the data stored and used by OPM. In addition to the OPM hacking, Cybertech is also involved in another case, whereby Anomolous itself was a victim of a hacking attempt that targeted its facilities. This attack was allegedly attempted by another hacker group based in the United States and known as Equation Set. Moreover, in some unrelated cases, Cybertech is also representing other client companies that are suspects in the OPM breach.
Thus, Cybertech finds itself in a complex position where it is appearing to work with multiple conflicting sides and therefore is engaged in a massive conflict of interest. In order to address this confusing situation, Cybertech professionals must decide on the company’s further course of action. To be more precise, it is necessary to evaluate the organization’s position given the present situation and the potential impact on Cybertech’s reputation.
Specifically, collaborating with conflicting sides and representing clients from clashing parties at the same time in multiple cases may threaten the company’s image as well as its moral and ethical views. It will be necessary for Cybertech management to strategize and come to a decision whether to work on all of the current cases or drop some of them for the purpose of preserving the company’s own reputation.
Analysis of the Information
Based on the description of the present situation provided previously, there appear to be several different paths that Cybertech can choose in addressing the complexity of the scenario. According to the available information, Cybertech is required to remain impartial in each of the cases regardless of the sides involved and their relationships outside the cases. However, when comparing this case to the ethics, for example, that are required of law firms, avoiding conflict of interest is necessary in order to attract clients and preserve a strong professional image and reputation (Suni, n.d.).
Cybertech is not a law firm, but the company works with one as a forensics consultant; as a result, the same ethical approach may also be applied to its situation. Moreover, as specified by Kolczynski (2017), the duty of a lawyer is to interpret evidence such that it works in favor of the client; in turn, as a consultant, Cybertech was hired to help with this sort of interpretation. In addition, the solution to situations involving a conflict of interest in a business is described as needing to choose only one of the conflicting parties and stay invested in its affairs (Rowan, 2014).
In this regard, Cybertech could decide to drop some of the cases and remain on just one of the conflicting sides. However, this choice is complicated by the fact that it is impossible to tell exactly who did the hacking in each case or which of the sides is guilty. In practical terms, the lack of full information regarding any of the cases makes the situation difficult. Additionally, it is not known whether any of the accused hacker groups and other suspect organizations had been found guilty in similar cases involving hacking and security breaches in the past. This kind of information would provide valuable background data on the organizations that would help Cybertech’s authorities come to a sound decision about their readiness to cooperate with any of the parties.
In law firms, the ethics of confidentiality prohibit the lawyers who have been involved in the representation of one of two conflicting sides to move on to work for the other party. This is necessary because evidence from one of the sides could become known to the other through the lawyer. In order to control such situations, a phenomenon known as the information barrier is in place, preventing professionals who have worked on one side from disclosing their confidential information to the other party (Rost, 2016). As a result, it seems necessary for Cybertech to drop one or more cases if the company is to stay true to legal ethics. After all, working on all of these cases may give Cybertech access to confidential information that could be related to more than one party.
Consideration of Alternative Viewpoints and Conclusions
An alternative viewpoint can be based on the fact that Cybertech is not a law firm and, as a result, the laws of ethics specified for legal professionals need not apply. Consequently, there would be no requirement for Cybertech to drop any of the cases because it could continue working on all of them, staying impartial and professional in each situation.
However, the problem of reputation will continue to be a threat because the clients of Cybertech who know about the company’s readiness to work simultaneously with multiple conflicting parties on related cases are likely to perceive a disloyal image, resulting in damage to the company’s reputation. This aspect could be addressed by assigning a different team of consultants from Cybertech to each individual case; however, ensuring that the teams cannot access each other’s information might be difficult, if not impossible.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In summary, Cybertech is in a complicated situation where it is involved in consultation work with multiple law firms. As a matter of fact, it turns out that Cybertech represents conflicting parties in several of these cases. In the OPM breach case, the company is taking the part of OPM against Anomolous, the suspect organization. In the Anomolous breach attempt that is related to the OPM case, Cybertech is working with Anomolous against the hacker group that attacked it. Also, in several unrelated cases, Cybertech is representing other organizations suspected in the OPM breach.
As a result, it is recommended that Cybertech avoid a direct clash of interests in regard to Anomolous in the cases against OPM and Equation Set. Consequently, one of these cases will have to be dropped in order for Cybertech to avoid any breach of confidentiality that would damage the company’s reputation. Regarding the unrelated cases, since there is no direct clash of interests and Cybertech does not appear to work for both conflicting parties in any one case, the company is safe to keep working on these cases. However, if Cybertech decides to stay on the OPM hacking case against Anomolous and the latter is found not guilty, that would mean that one of the other suspect companies represented by Cybertech would become the source of the clash of interests. In such a situation, Cybertech would have to make another decision and choose one party with which to continue working.
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Kolczynski, P. J. (2017). Ethical challenges for experts in civil litigation. Web.
Rost, C. (2016). Conflicts of interest: A challenge for global law firms. Web.
Rowan, K. (2014). Conflict of interest examples: Avoiding lawsuits in the workplace. Web.
Suni, E. Y. (n.d.). Conflicts of interest. Web.