Redesigning of Benefit Enrollment Application User Interface at ADP LLC; History and Ethical Implications of Hacktivism and the Case of Ashley Madison Data Breach

Kausar, Areeba, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Rogers, Hannah, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Graham, Daniel, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia

Computational Technologies have come a long way since their origin. While the earliest computers took up entire rooms, devices now fit in the palm of a hand. The early computers were operated by trained technicians whereas toddlers can successfully navigate devices nowadays. This is a result of two developments within the field of computer science. First, computer processors and memories have exponentially improved in efficiency and speed over the decades. This allows for powerful and sleek devices which can perform tasks and searches within mere seconds. Secondly, consistent work in fields of software development has resulted in applications that fully utilize the increased hardware capabilities of modern computer. Modern websites and programs emphasize convenience, ease of use and efficiency. As a result, use of technology has exploded over the recent decades.

Today, engineers, authorities, and users face unique opportunities and challenges due to this market expansion for both web applications and internet threats. This includes a need to constantly improve existing softwares. For my technical project, I worked on updating and recreating parts of the current application suite at ADP LLC, a global HR Management Organization in Alpharetta, GA. These updates improved the end user’s application experience as newer components offered greater responsiveness, accessibility, and cleaner interface design.

This project allowed me to think about parallel growth of computational usage and technologies over time. As engineers and corporations actively improve their existing web infrastructure and create new and convenient web services, users transfer more aspects of their lives into virtual realms. This increasing number of users attract malicious and exploitative actors such as cyber criminals. This results in a triangular coevolution of computational services, technology users as well as cyber crimes and security.

As part of my Sociotechnical Thesis, I wanted to explore this coevolution while focusing on cybercrimes with questionable ethical implications. Hacktivism is an example of a morally interesting if not ambiguous crime where the intention of the hacker might be non-malicious at times. In my paper, I examine the concept of hacktivism from a macro and micro perspective. This include an exploration of its various heterogeneous parts including, but not limited to history and development of computation, the flaws embedded in technological infrastructures, modern computation and its empowerment of good and bad individuals, psychological profiles of cybercriminals and collective discourse of ethics which can make hackers justify their crime and have public support it. We dive deeper into these concepts through analysis of the famous hacktivism case of Ashley Madison data breach that offers rich analysis opportunities.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Hacktivism, Cybercrimes, ethics of hacking

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Daniel Graham
STS Advisor: Hannah Rogers

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