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Bridging the gap in cybersecurity policy

February 13, 2017

Jackson School faculty, alumni and students present their cybersecurity research at the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C. on Feb. 9 2017
Jackson School faculty, alumni and students present their cybersecurity research at the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C. on Feb. 9 2017 as part of "Bridging the Gap in Cybersecurity Policy: Emerging International and Domestic Issues," a conference bringing the academic and policy worlds together.

“In developing new cyber infrastructure, how will this play out in developing countries whose basic infrastructure is still struggling?” asked Jackson School M.A. in International Studies student Michael Walstrom  in front of over 120 government officials, consultants, think tanks, academics and public and private business representatives gathered at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in D.C. on Feb. 9, 2017 for “Bridging the Gap in Cybersecurity Policy: Emerging International and Domestic Issues.

Jackson School Director Reşat Kasaba gives opening remarks and moderated a panel on emerging cybersecurity norms during the “Bridging the Gap in Cybersecurity Policy” conference on Feb. 9 in D.C. at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

The day-long conference, hosted by the International Policy Institute at the Jackson School of International Studies through the generous support of Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation, and in partnership with the Woodrow Wilson Center, included panel presentations by Jackson School faculty Sara Curran,  Jessica Beyer, and Katy Pearce, also assistant professor at the Communications Department at the University of Washington, Digital Futures Project experts at the Wilson Center, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, among others.

The Honorable Dennis Heck, Congressman, U.S. House of Representatives, welcomes over 120 cybersecurity experts to the Bridging the Gap conference on Feb. 9.

See the full conference agenda here.

Watch a video of the conference here.

Cybersecurity gaps and opportunities
Developing international cybersecurity norms “in a non-partisan way is more important than ever,” emphasized Paul Nicholas, Senior Director, Global Strategy, at Microsoft, in his keynote address “International Cybersecurity Norms: America at the Crossroads of Diplomacy and Defense.”

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Senior Manager Perry Pederson highlights that PNNL has the largest grid cybersecurity resource in world, brining the science to cyber.

Discussion between the audience and presenters from D.C. and Washington state covered topics ranging from building laws to enable flow of data while respecting sovereignty of countries, the use of compromising information to undermine public trust to gaps and opportunities in cybersecurity policy education, protecting America’s economy and public safety, all against the backdrop of a new Administration.

UW faculty Katy Pearce gave an overview of blackmail before the dawn of the Internet, and the perils that lie ahead with online channels such as Facebook. “We engage in the creation of blackmail,” she said of Facebook posts.

“I was encouraged by not just the number of learned people interested in cybersecurity policy at the conference, but that there were so many young people with interest in this particular area,” said Perry Pederson, Senior Manager, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “It gives me some hope for our digital future.”

Audience members included Norm Dicks, former U.S. Congressman from the 6th District in Washington state, and President and CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars The Honorable and former Congresswoman Jane Harman.

For some key takeaways from the conference, click here.

Jackson School alumni and student present global cybersecurity research

M.A. in International Studies Student Michael Walstrom, who specializes in South Asia, speaks with an member of the cybersecurity conference about his research on the smart grid in India as part of the Bridging the Gap conference on Feb. 9 at the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C.

Michael Walstrom, currently earning a master’s with a focus on South Asia, was one of four Jackson School students and alumni participating in and showcasing their region-specific cybersecurity research during the conference through visual presentation boards and individual discussion. 

In addition to posters displaying a snapshot of key findings and recommendations of their research, from cybersecurity in India to an underseas Internet cable in Asia, each of the four opened the floor to questions and one-on-one conversations from cybersecurity experts.

Their research on cybersecurity was developed in the last two years, with the launch of the Cybersecurity Initiative at the International Policy Institute playing a catalyst role.

Alumna Rebekah Kennel talks with U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director of Cybersecurity Policy Matthew Eggers (left) and other cybersecurity experts about her work on police reform in Myanmar on Feb. 9, 2017 in the Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C.

“I am encouraged to see the establishment of the International Policy Institute which offers competitive opportunities for Jackson School students to be at the forefront of relevant cybersecurity issues,” said alumna and former Global Studies Fellow of a Jackson School Microsoft Applied Research Project Rebekah Kennel, who also presented her Myanmar cybersecurity research during the conference.

“IPI cybersecurity conferences are a place where industry, policymakers and academics are able to come together to share existing research, identify issues and also offer creative solutions,” Kennel said. “I am energized to have been a part of such an important initiative at the Jackson School.”

Alumna Stacia Lee talks with a cybersecurity expert about her research on an underseas Internet cable (Feb. 9, 2017, Woodrow Wilson Center in D.C.)

Stacia Lee, an International Policy Institute Fellow and a 2015 B.A. graduate of the Jackson School, heads to law school in the fall at the University of Michigan, where she plans on focusing on tech policy. She spoke with conference members about her research on ASEAN cybersecurity, regional cybersecurity agreements, U.S. cybersecurity relations, and Internet infrastructure.

Recent graduate Oliver Marguleas, also an International Policy Institute cybersecurity policy fellow, is based in D.C. and focuses on extremism online, counter-narrative programs and authoritarian Internet policy.

As part of evolving the cybersecurity policy discussion between the two Washingtons, the students and Jackson School faculty Sara Curran and Jessica Beyer met with Washington State Congressional Staff on Capitol Hill on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10.

“One of the great things about the IPI is that the issues we research and discuss are constantly changing to meet the needs of the field,” said Stacia Lee. “Being in D.C. and hearing from legislators and federal government professionals gives us a chance to alter our focus yet again – it gave us the information we need to tailor our research in a way that’s most useful for our counterparts on the other side of the country.”

This event and publication were made possible in part by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.