Stanford Workshop: ‘Life Online is Fundamentally Unsafe’

“Life online is fundamentally unsafe,” Jane Holl Lute, bluntly told participants gathered for a cybersecurity conference at Stanford University in late August. Lute is a former deputy secretary of Homeland Security, the current president of the Council on CyberSecurity and a consulting professor at Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation.

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Even if Congress were to pass the toughest cybersecurity laws in the world, Americans would still be vulnerable to threats from outside this nation. And with 3 billion people online around the world, including rogue nations, the threat from beyond our borders would not disappear.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told conference participants "everything is going to have to be encrypted all the way" and predicts start-to-finish encryption within our lifetimes. However, until we reach that point—individuals, companies and governments will be subject to cyber attack.

Lute reminded participants that organizations can take steps to prevent 80 to 90 percent of cyber attacks. "We can do better today," she said. "We know a lot, but we're just not doing it."

According to Stanford, the three day workshop Congressional Staff Cyber Boot Camp gave “Capitol Hill staffers the knowledge and contacts that will help them better craft legislation and policies on cyber security.” Staffers from both political parties attended representing senators and congressmen who serve on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the Homeland Security, Appropriations, Judiciary, Energy and Commerce committees.

Some of the two dozen experts who addressed the boot camp are:

  • Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt
  • Stanford University President John Hennessy
  • Larry Kramer, president of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and former dean of the Stanford Law School
  • Joe Sullivan, chief of security at Facebook
  • Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow at Hoover and the Freeman Spogli Institute
  • Scott Charney, corporate vice president for Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft
  • UCLA Professor John Villasenor, a CISAC affiliate and Hoover national fellow
  • Carey Nachenberg, chief architect of Symantec's Security Technology and Response division
  • U.S. Air Force Col. Matteo Martemucci, a former Hoover national security fellow
  • Melody Hildebrant, global head of cybersecurity at Palantir
  • Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School
  • Raj Shah, senior director for cybersecurity at Palo Alto Networks, and a CISAC affiliate

The workshop was cosponsored by Stanford's Center for International Security and Cooperation and the Hoover Institution.

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