Cybersecurity: What are the Right Questions?

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Thu May 12 15:30:00 EDT 2011

In a matter of a couple of decades we moved from having the majority of our electronic communications from circuit-switched networks to packet-routed ones. The Internet brought an explosion of enormously rich and diverse applications. But a snake entered this garden: a snake of hacks, attacks, thefts, and cybexploitations. The shift to the Internet was done without careful attention to systemic security or deep education of the system's users.

Public concern about cyber insecurity has reached a fever pitch. The result is predictable: frequent calls to reengineer the Internet to make it safe. Suggestions that attribution be more manageable or that federal government tools should protect private-sector critical infrastructure are surfacing, often coming from a serious misunderstanding of the real threats.  In this talk, I'll focus on some of these, and talk about how to ask the right questions in cybersecurity. Only then can we proceed to appropriate solutions.



Susan Landau

Susan Landau is spending 2010-2011 as a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Her book "Surveillance or Security? The Risks Posed by New Wiretapping Technologies'' was just published by MIT Press. From 1999 to 2010, Landau was at Sun Microsystems, first as Senior Staff Engineer and then as Distinguished Engineer, where she worked on security, cryptography, and policy. She advised government officials in the U.S. and abroad on security risks of various surveillance technologies, helped in the development of privacy and security policies for the Liberty federated identity management system. Landau is coauthor, with Whitfield Diffie, of "Privacy on the Line: the Politics of Wiretapping and Encryption'' (MIT Press, 1998; rev. 2007), and she is the author of numerous computer science and public policy papers.

Prior to her time at Sun, Landau was a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts and at Wesleyan University. She is a member of the National Research Council Computer Science and Telecommunications Board and serves on the advisory committee for the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering. Landau is a recipient of the 2008 Women of Vision Social Impact Award, a AAAS Fellow, and an ACM Distinguished Engineer. She received her BA from Princeton, her MS from Cornell, and her PhD from MIT.

Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study