Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday Deals

Filed under: Cybersecurity — by Arnold Bogis on November 28, 2011

If you arrived at this post looking for shopping deals, you have come to the wrong website.  However, if you are interested in post-Thanksgiving, haze induced, cyber-related leftovers you are definitely in the right place.

The issues surrounding cyber run deep and wide (and sometimes silent). It can be difficult to tease out what is, is not, might be,  or is not even related to homeland security.

  • Professor Bellavita recently covered the technical aspects of a suspected cyber attack on critical infrastructure…that turned out not to be a cyber attack on critical infrastructure.  This particular case brings up the issues of communication (who told whom what when and why), risk/vulnerability (what can be attacked, what is being attacked, what is the real–as opposed to imagined–consequences of such an attack), and attribution (“the butler in the library with the candlestick” issue).
  • Taking a step back to consider some of these issues at the crossroads of the technological and strategic are the people involved with the “Explorations in Cyber International Relations.”  A joint project between MIT and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, it aims to be “a collaborative and interdisciplinary research program that seeks to create a field of international cyber relations for the 21st century.  It is designed as a theoretically rich, and technically informed initiative anchored in diverse tools and methods to identify, measure, model, interpret, and analyze emergent issues, challenges, and responses. The ECIR research plan integrates social sciences, legal studies, computer science, and policy analysis.”
  • Three individuals involved with the project have written interesting cyber pieces informed by their professional backgrounds.  Joseph Nye, esteemed professor of international relations and originator of the term “soft power,” considers the strategic implications for world politics of increasing reliance and power of cyberspace.  Melissa Hathaway, former White House cyber adviser, tackles the issue of cybercrime.  Jack Goldsmith, legal scholar and former high-ranking Justice Department official, examines the difficulties arising from the overlap between private and public networks and the security related issues.
  • The Department of Defense foreshadowed some of the institutional thinking about cyber issues in a Foreign Affairs article from last fall by Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn III (he considered progress a year later here). The Department followed up with a “Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace” this past summer.  However, the Homeland Security Policy Institute’s Frank Cilluffo and Sharon Cardash were not too impressed.
  • Coming down from such lofty strategic heights to daily operational issues, organizations at all levels of government as well as those in the private sector are increasingly grappling with the difficulties involved in developing and implementing communication strategies and guidelines in the age of ever increasing social media usage. Emergency Management Magazine hosts a blog dedicated to “crisis and emergency communication strategies” authored by Gerald Baron.  In a recent post, he examines the question “Is Social Media more problem than solution in emergencies?” (HLSWatch’s Mark Chubb recently considered a similar question, and Jim Garrow covers a range of related topics on his blog). What does that particular question and Thanksgiving have in common?  The Dallas Cowboys. Long story short: sometimes it is better to trust the good judgement of your employees and the positive influence of cyberspace than attempt to control the flow of information.  Just as good of a lesson for “America’s Team” as it is for America’s federal, state, and local governmental institutions.
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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

November 28, 2011 @ 8:19 am

So Arnold is cyber security the mirror image of the INTEL communities problem of over collection [or under collection?] but none really knows because the analysis portion of the machine cannot hope to keep up with the info collection? And of course those disseminating INTEL want only to handle and process nuggets of gold?

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