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CybersecurityStanford Cyber Initiative addresses cybersecurity, governance, and the future of work

Published 2 October 2017

Daily headlines emphasize the down side of technology: cyberattacks, election hacking and the threat of fake news. In response, government organizations are scrambling to understand how policy should shape technology’s role in governance, security and jobs. The Stanford Cyber Initiative is bringing together scholars from all over campus to confront the challenges technology presents.

Daily headlines emphasize the down side of technology: cyberattacks, election hacking and the threat of fake news. In response, government organizations are scrambling to understand how policy should shape technology’s role in governance, security and jobs.

The Stanford Cyber Initiative is at the forefront of answering this question. Co-directors Michael McFaul, a professor of political science and director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and Dan Boneh, a professor of computer science and electrical engineering, tell us how the research behind the initiative helps define the role of policy in a world increasingly influenced by technology. In a conversation with Nicole Feldman of Stanford News, the two explained the reasons behind and goals of the new initiative.

Stanford News: What is the goal of the Stanford Cyber Initiative?
Michael McFaul
: It is part of a broader cyber initiative that the Hewlett Foundation started several years ago. New technologies are changing the way we view security, the way we govern, the way we work. They’re part of every aspect of life, and yet how we manage them, how we think about policy to regulate and enhance their use, has not caught up to the technology. Here at Stanford, we’re focusing on the right policies and policy frameworks to address the new technological era we live in today.

Dan Boneh: When we came to define cybersecurity, it turned out to include many different areas. It has to do with the security of computing technology, but it also includes implications to the workforce and U.S. economy. It includes security of our democracy and election systems. It includes security of our financial systems. The Cyber Initiative funds Stanford research in these areas that focuses on policy.

SN: What’s changing now that the Cyber Initiative has moved to the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies?
Boneh:
I think it’s wonderful the Cyber Initiative now has a home. With FSI, we have much more infrastructure support. It is also wonderful to have Mike’s vision and leadership for the initiative. Mike has been a fantastic collaborator to work with on this.

McFaul: As the co-director with Dan, we’ve shaped it in a couple of different directions. We want to build on some strengths, and that means fewer areas that we focus on and greater resources to them. The three that I think are most prominent in our thinking are cybersecurity, governance and the future of work.