Operationalizing Cybersecurity Research Ethics Review: From Principles and Guidelines to Practice


Cybersecurity research involves ethics risks such as accidental privacy breaches, corruption of production services, and discovery of weaknesses in networked systems. Although literature describes these and other issues in some depth, reflection on these issues is not yet well embedded in typical Ethics Review Board procedures. In this paper, we operationalize existing guidance on cybersecurity research ethics into a proposal that can be directly implemented in an Ethics Review Board. We provide a set of self-assessment questions to effectively and efficiently probe the ethics of proposed cybersecurity research, a Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure procedure for discoveries made in the course of research, and an outline of a university policy to institutionally embed this procedure that could be adapted and adopted by research institutes. With this paper, we hope to contribute to more Ethics Review Boards taking up the challenge of addressing cybersecurity research ethics in an adequate and productive manner.

Conference paper
Proceedings of the International Workshop on Ethics in Computer Security (EthiCS)