Cybersecurity

Program Director: David Voorhees

The mission of the cybersecurity program is to provide a strong foundation in societal, technical and policy topics that influence cybersecurity issues, with the goal of enabling students to pursue a wide range of educational and employment opportunities.

Three concentrations are included in this program:

  • Crime, Society & Culture
  • Information & System Security
  • Policy & Law

This program's strength is in the liberal arts tradition - students receive broad exposure to cybersecurity topics that span the social sciences and security technology. Students will probe the meanings and motivations behind cyber security threats, protective needs, and the role and limitations of technology. The program courses are meant to bring together critical thinking, effective communications, and the ability to meaningfully connect concepts, policies, technologies, and their critiques.

All students majoring in cybersecurity shall complete seven common course requirements – two covering crime, society & culture, three covering information & system security, and two covering policy & law. This is followed by a student completing six courses in their selected concentration and two courses in a cross-over concentration. The two cross-over courses allow a student to increase their breadth of exposure to topics covered in another concentration. See the requirements page for a complete description of the cybersecurity major.

This program’s interdisciplinary approach is unique in that it presents broad coverage of policy, societal and technical topics, while allowing a student to specialize by selecting a concentration. This program is a strong example of liberal arts education that is clearly distinguishable from programs at peer institutions, which tend to emphasize only the technical aspect of cybersecurity. A 2014 paper published by the National Council in the Social Studies1 includes the following quote.

... the disciplines of the social sciences promote ways of knowing and deliberating about data and information that are critical to policy development and the implementation of cybersecurity initiatives. Building the capacity of the next generation of social scientists to tackle these emerging issues is imperative.

In addition, a summary report from a workshop on social science, computer science, and cybersecurity held in 20132 included white papers written by the attendees. The following is a quote from one of the computer scientists in attendance at this workshop.

The fact that humans from several different walks of life are interacting with these systems on a daily basis has prompted a paradigm shift: rather than designing secure systems with arbitrarily defined use models, we must design secure systems with use models informed by how people interact with each other, computers, and information. This security paradigm necessitates a close collaboration between technical and social scientists so that the design of secure systems incorporates an understanding of the needs and capabilities of the billions of people that will rely on them.

Upon completion of this cybersecurity program, a student shall be able to:

  1. Articulate critiques of current cybersecurity policies and laws, especially from the perspective of the disempowered.
  2. Explain current policies and laws and their impact on cybersecurity.
  3. Articulate how criminological, sociological and anthropological theories help us to understand the motivations, global patterns, and potential targets for cybercrime and cybercrime communities.
  4. Explain how criminological, sociological and anthropological data collection strategies help understand the vulnerabilities and potential targets related to cybercrime so as to help create policies and programs that help protect society.
  5. Demonstrate ability to assess security risks associated with technical and human factors for individuals, communities and organizations.
  6. Formulate policies, operational procedures, and technology solutions that proactively address vulnerabilities, threats, and risks.

1. Berson, M. J., & Berson, I. R. (2014). Bringing the Cybersecurity Challenge to the Social Studies Classroom. Social Education (National Council for the Social Studies), 78(2), 96-100.

2. Hofman, L. J. (2013). Social Science, Computer Science, and Cybersecurity, Workshop Summary Report. Cyber Security Policy and Research Institute, The George Washington University, Report GW-CSPRI-2013-02 retrieved on October 21, 2016 from https://www.seas.gwu.edu/~cspri/s/Final-08-22-13-1301-Report-Social-Science-66cn.pdf