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CITP Lecture Series: David Clark – Defining Cyber-security: The First Step

Tuesday, October 20, 2015
4:30 pm


Sherrerd Hall, 3rd Floor Open Space
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This event is co-sponsored with the Woodrow Wilson School.

The term cyber-security is actually ill-defined, as are most words containing the term “cyber”. Many security practitioners choose a particular aspect of security, such as privacy, espionage, or national security, and propose solutions to those more specific goals in isolation. But this begs the more basis question: what is the overall landscape of cyber-security, and can we identify a way of cataloging the issues that gives us confidence we have captured the larger picture? It turns out that different fields conceptualize security in very different ways–a computer scientist and a political scientist frame security in ways that have very little to do with each other.

In this talk, Clark looks at a number of ways to define security, and propose two approaches to map out the landscape of the cyber-security problems we face today. This exercise, which is often omitted in discussions of cyber-security, is in fact a necessary first step if we are to make overall progress in improving our security posture.


David Clark is a Senior Research Scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where he has worked since receiving his Ph.D. there in 1973. Since the mid 70s, Dr. Clark has been leading the development of the Internet; from 1981-1989 he acted as Chief Protocol Architect in this development, and chaired the Internet Activities Board. His current research looks at re-definition of the architectural underpinnings of the Internet, and the relation of technology and architecture to economic, societal and policy considerations. He is helping the U.S. National Science foundation organize their Future Internet Design program. He is past chairman of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies, and has contributed to a number of studies on the societal and policy impact of computer communications. He is co-director of the MIT Communications Futures Program, a project for industry collaboration and coordination along the communications value chain.