Code of Ethics

The purpose of IT is to be a business enabler. To put it another way, IT is supposed to help others use information technologies to do their jobs. It doesn’t matter if you are a PC Tech or an Enterprise Architect, you are there to help other people conduct business of some sort. IT people are sometimes cast in an unfortunate light, mostly because of a few who do not have their priorities correct or are immature in their understanding of the purpose of IT. Mordac from the Dilbert comic comes to mind:

This is not the way we should be treating our customers and is not the image you should want projected for your IT department. I come from a sysadmin background and used to be a member of SAGE (now the USENIX LISA SIG) and LOPSA. They put together The System Administrator’s Code of Ethics, which is applicable to most IT positions. I’ve included it below for you to ponder.

We as professional System Administrators do hereby commit ourselves to the highest standards of ethical and professional conduct, and agree to be guided by this code of ethics, and encourage every System Administrator to do the same.


  • I will maintain professional conduct in the workplace and will not allow personal feelings or beliefs to cause me to treat people unfairly or unprofessionally.

personal integrity

  • I will be honest in my professional dealings and forthcoming about my competence and the impact of my mistakes. I will seek assistance from others when required.
  • I will avoid conflicts of interest and biases whenever possible. When my advice is sought, if I have a conflict of interest or bias, I will declare it if appropriate, and recuse myself if necessary.


  • I will access private information on computer systems only when it is necessary in the course of my technical duties. I will maintain and protect the confidentiality of any information to which I may have access, regardless of the method by which I came into knowledge of it.

laws and policies

  • I will educate myself and others on relevant laws, regulations, and policies regarding the performance of my duties.


  • I will communicate with management, users, and colleagues about computer matters of mutual interest. I will strive to listen to and understand the needs of all parties.

system integrity

  • I will strive to ensure the necessary integrity, reliability, and availability of the systems for which I am responsible.
  • I will design and maintain each system in a manner to support the purpose of the system to the organization.


  • I will continue to update and enhance my technical knowledge and other work-related skills. I will share my knowledge and experience with others.

responsibility to computing community

  • I will cooperate with the larger computing community to maintain the integrity of network and computing resources.

social responsibility

  • As an informed professional, I will encourage the writing and adoption of relevant policies and laws consistent with these ethical principles.

ethical responsibility

  • I will strive to build and maintain a safe, healthy, and productive workplace.
  • I will do my best to make decisions consistent with the safety, privacy, and well-being of my community and the public, and to disclose promptly factors that might pose unexamined risks or dangers.
  • I will accept and offer honest criticism of technical work as appropriate and will credit properly the contributions of others.
  • I will lead by example, maintaining a high ethical standard and degree of professionalism in the performance of all my duties. I will support colleagues and co-workers in following this code of ethics.

Draft of September 12, 2003, approved September 18, 2003, by the SAGE Executive Committee and September 30, 2003, by the Ethics Working Group.

Co-signed by USENIXLISA, and LOPSA 2006.

Think about your level of professionalism and your attitude towards your users. They are not clueless people ruining your day. They are the people you are supporting to do their jobs. You all are supposed to work together to achieve whatever goals your organization is trying to achieve. Do your part and be professional and ethical in your conduct.


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