>Cyber Security and Civil Liberties


War isn’t just fought on a battlefield anymore. The newest soldiers are just as likely to be sitting next to you in a café typing up that report for the boss, or watching their kids at a soccer game while checking their smartphones. Their choice of weapon? A computer. With computers, your ATM account can be frozen, satellite communications can be stopped, and missiles can be launched with a simple keystroke. Phone communications can be shut down and identities can be stolen. One person could effectively cripple a country in a matter of minutes and never be caught. On a large scale, these actions could constitute cyberwar, which occurs when a country (or individuals acting in their own interests) seeks to increase its power by controlling, and sometimes, obfuscating information. A country’s banking system could be shut down, only to be reopened if that nation released terrorists. A radar screen can show that the sky is clear, while in actuality, enemy aircraft are preparing to launch missiles pointed at large metropolises.
The world runs on computer systems. Because of scenarios like the ones described above, governments are increasingly facing new dilemmas: how to stop an attack, how to catch perpetrators, and how to work with other nations that may otherwise be adversaries, just to ensure that each country’s information transactions are secure. With these new warfare methods come new questions surrounding civil liberties. Who controls cyberspace, and who is responsible for policing crimes committed against a nation, or multiple nations? What’s the difference between a hacker causing mischief, and the intent to start a war? If you don’t install a firewall on your computer, are you liable if someone hacks into your computer to cause irreparable damage to another nation?
These issues will be explored in the International Student Summit on Cyber Security and Civil Liberties, sponsored by the Cornell School District, the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, the National Flag Foundation, and Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3, on Friday, September 17th, 2010. Students attending this event will debate these issues with other students around the globe via videoconference and webcast.

Panelists will include Ms. Kim Zetter, Contributor, Wired Magazine; Mr. Ron Plesco, President and CEO, National Cyber-Forensics Training Alliance; and Mr. Jaanus Kirikmäe, Consul General, Estonia. Panelists will share their perspectives on key cyber security and civil liberties issues. The panel discussion and webcast will run from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM. Afterwards, the students will break into small groups to tackle a foreign policy scenario.
The live webcast will be available on the Council’s homepage. Interested parties are also invited to join the conversation on Twitter by using the #CyberCiv hashtag (hashtags categorize posts relating to a specific topic). Don’t forget to follow the Council @WorldAffairsPgh! We hope you will join us on Friday for this very important conversation.