105-s20-week5

CORE 105-
Future of Technology Policy

Spring 2020

Back to the course’s schedule of assignments


Week 5  – Cybersecurity

In some ways, everything now is about privacy and data security

Whether we are protecting military codes, patent applications, health records, the integrity of ballot counts, credit card numbers, or what we browse online – how can we enjoy all the benefits of cyber life but avoid the many seen and unseen pitfalls?

There is a lot of reading this week but most of it is easy and all of it is important.

We start with an outline from Peter W. Singer, author of Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know (2014).  If you want to know what’s going on all around you, this book is a great place to start.  For Tuesday, we’ll just do this mini-intro:  the seven deadly sins of cyber security

It’s worth looking at some of this from a “landscape” perspective.  Look at this (you;ll need a big screen, not your phone), beginning on the right – what are the big categories of targets?  And then on the left, what are the threats?

It’s not only your Instagram photos that are vulnerable – in 2018 the GAO pointed out that despite working on this problem for 21 yearsweapons systems are still vulnerable to hacking (click at least the one-page Highlights)

Edward Snowden

You probably know this name.  Just in case, it’s worth considering the stories that came out about US Government surveillance and cooperation with US tech firms.

We start with the two articles from the Washington Post that got this all underway in 2013 – the Guardian was doing this at the same time.  Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras id PRISM and other NSA cooperation with all the big tech companies – Facebook, Google,Microsoft, and more. Start with the graphics: the NSA slides that the Washington Post published (also here: snowden – wapo – slides  ), Next, read the story and watch the interview (6:09) of Gellman at the top of the story.  Two days later we learn about the mysterious source, Edward Snowden: read the storyand watch the Guardian’s interview (12:34) of him.

Intel agencies have said that some of the reporting is not entirely accurate; you can find their Congressional testimony if you are interested

Elections Integrity

How vulnerable are American elections to anonymous outside influence? This can mean different things.  It can mean tampering with voter rolls, or the counting process, or the reporting of the count.  These are not what we’ve been talking about with Russia and the 2016 elections.

If Putin says, Vote for Trump, that’s one thing.  If a Russian government agency – or teenagers in Macedonia – post ads on facebook pretending to be almost anyone else, how much should the US worry?

The Washington Post highlighted a Journal of Democracy article on the pros and cons of social media for democracy; it’s followed up by a How Stupid Are We analysis.  A little, sure; but maybe our willingness to be duped is a symptom of our political divisions, more than being duped is a cause of our divisions?

You’ve seen the Mueller indictment (skim this). These Russian journalists claim that much of that information was published by them (read this), months earlier.  Note: even Vox had to acknowledge that (so far), “Importantly, the indictment does not allege that the outcome of the election was changed, and it does not allege that any Americans or anyone on the Trump campaign was aware of or involved in this Russian effort.” This could change, of course, but so far….

You might also be interested in a review of the decade of cybersecurity concerns and President Trump’s inclination to add offensive capabilities to the US arsenal (h/t your classmate Justice)

Your Own Cyber Privacy?  

We’ll talk a little about this in class

We might add consideration of massive attacks by foreign govts, such as one on half of all Americans in 2017 his one in the news this week or of the US Govt’s personnel system in 2015