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Up Front

Ukraine Crisis, Target Breach, and Edward Snowden: What’s Next for U.S. Cyber Policy?

Ian Wallace

What do the crisis in Ukraine, the resignation of Target’s chief information officer, and the effect of Edward Snowden on European legislators all have in common? According to Brookings cybersecurity experts, they are all going to be central to the development of U.S. cybersecurity policy in the months ahead. That was the conclusion of a fantastic expert podcast recorded here at Brookings earlier this month.

The idea for this podcast came when Peter Singer, the director of Brookings’s Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence (21CSI), and I were discussing our own thoughts on what is going to drive cybersecurity policy in the coming months. Why not widen the discussion to the rest of the cybersecurity team, and record it for everyone else’s benefit?   

Peter, as the co-author of a new bestselling book on cybersecurity (Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everybody Needs to Know), is himself a leading expert on this subject. But over the past year we have also expanded our in-house expertise by recruiting two internationally acknowledged leaders in cybersecurity – Richard Bejtlich and Ralph Langner – as nonresident fellows. They are rarely in same city, so while they were both here in Washington earlier this month, we jumped at the chance to get them around a table to ask them their views on current trends in the world of cybersecurity and what we are going to see in the coming months.

As you will hear, the results did not disappoint. Highlights include:

  • Ralph, who did much of the early forensic work that identified the true purpose of Stuxnet, explains that the real risk to critical infrastructure is not from hackers crashing SCADA systems, but from organized groups seizing control of them to do other damage;
  • Richard talks about the cybersecurity risk of the current crisis in Ukraine;
  • And a roundtable discussion about the complex challenges faced by the next CYBERCOM-NSA commander.

We enjoyed the podcast so much that we have decided to record one every few months. If you have particular questions and topics that you would like the team to discuss or guests who you would like to join us at the table, please let us know in the comments or by tweeting your thoughts to me (@pianwallace) or Peter (@peterwsinger). We want to hear from you on this important issue.

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