Cybersecurity expert Peter Singer visited Stevens Institute of Technology on February 12, 2014, to discuss his most recent book, Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2014). Co-sponsored by the Center for Science Writings at the College of Arts and Letters, the event was part of the Stevens Deans’ Seminar Series, a series of lecture events hosted by the deans of all four schools and college.
Singer, a senior fellow at The Brookings Institution and director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative, highlighted how the rise of the Internet and its role in modern society has led to confusion at the global, national, organizational, and individual levels, particularly with gaps in understanding the issues surrounding cybersecurity.
"For all the hope and promise of the digital age, we also have to admit that we are living through an era of cyber-insecurity," he said. "These fears have coalesced into one of the fastest-growing industries in the private sector across the world, and on the government side as one of the fastest-growing bureaucracies on the national level, the state level, and the local level."
Singer contended that certain actions and responses to cybersecurity oftentimes create unnecessary fear and insecurity in the public, arguably threatening the trust that was central to the Internet becoming the greatest force for political, economic, and social change in all of history.
Additionally, Singer noted that, while the technical community is equipped to understand the hardware and software sides of technology, it oftentimes overlooks the human side and particularly the ways that it is impacting our social, political and economic norms.
"It is absolutely vital that we demystify this realm if we ever want to be effective in securing it," he said. "We have to move past thinking that this is solely for the IT crowd. It's for all of us, since all of us are online."
Further, Singer suggested that we look to history and how we arrived to this point in order to understand how this history shapes the online world and the world beyond, so that we can learn from it.
"We all make cybersecurity decisions that shape both the future of the online world and the real world. But we all need to do so with proper tools—basic terms and essential concepts that define both what's possible but even more so what's proper—what's right and wrong. These are being missed or, even worse, distorted,” he said.
While discussing our rights and responsibilities as citizens of both the online and real worlds, Singer encouraged us to adopt a preventative approach in order to protect ourselves from these new forms of danger.
"We have to accept and manage the risks of the online world and the real world because of all that can be achieved in it," he said. "That is what everybody needs to know."
About Stevens Institute of Technology
Stevens Institute of Technology, The Innovation University®, is a premier, private research university situated in Hoboken, N.J. overlooking the Manhattan skyline. Founded in 1870, technological innovation has been the hallmark and legacy of Stevens’ education and research programs for more than 140 years. Within the university’s three schools and one college, more than 6,100 undergraduate and graduate students collaborate with more than 350 faculty members in an interdisciplinary, student-centric, entrepreneurial environment to advance the frontiers of science and leverage technology to confront global challenges. Stevens is home to three national research centers of excellence, as well as joint research programs focused on critical industries such as healthcare, energy, finance, defense, STEM education and coastal sustainability. The university is consistently ranked among the nation’s elite for return on investment for students, career services programs and mid-career salaries of alumni. Stevens is in the midst of a 10-year strategic plan,The Future. Ours to Create., designed to further extend the Stevens legacy to create a forward-looking and far-reaching institution with global impact.