Cybersecurity, Privacy is topic of URI’s 2014 Honors Colloquium

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James Bamford
Investigative reporter James Bamford, who recently returned from a trip to Russia where he spent three days interviewing Snowden in Moscow, the longest any reporter has spent with Snowden. He is the second speaker in the series.

Reporter with greatest access to fugitive Snowden since he fled to Russia among speakers

KINGSTON, R.I. –August 29, 2014 – The investigative reporter with the greatest access to fugitive Edward Snowden and his government documents since his flight to Russia will be coming to the University of Rhode Island next month as part of its 2014 Honors Colloquium, “Cybersecurity and Privacy.”

The second talk in the free, public series on Tuesday, Sept. 16 will feature investigative reporter James Bamford, who recently returned from a trip to Russia where he spent three days interviewing Snowden in Moscow, the longest any reporter has spent with Snowden. Snowden has been given sanctuary in Russia after leaking top-secret information from the U.S. National Security Agency.

Cox BusinessThe lecture will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Hall, 64 Upper College Road, Kingston campus. The presenting sponsor of the entire lecture series is Cox Business.

Bamford’s conversations with Snowden are reported in the September cover story of Wired magazine. The Today Show and PBS News Hour recently interviewed Bamford about his meetings with Snowden.

Bamford’s colloquium talk is titled, “Everyone’s a Target: How America Lost Control of the National Security Agency, and Can it be Reined In?” Bamford is noted for his books about the NSA and his writing about the agency in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Wired.

Bamford is part of a lineup of colloquium speakers that includes authorities on threats to the nation’s infrastructure, businesses, personal privacy and security and cyber warfare.

“Many of the speakers are national and global news makers,” Lamagna said. “They have recently been on CBS’ 60 Minutes, Moyers and Company on PBS, Democracy Now! (which airs on NPR, Pacifica and college radio stations), and several have spoken recently at leading university centers focusing on Internet law like those at Stanford and Harvard. And because of URI’s prominence in the field, several of our speakers have told us they are flattered to have been invited.”

The lecture series on Cybersecurity & Privacy begins Sept. 9 and ends Dec. 2. All but two of the lectures are held Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in Edwards Hall. For a full schedule, go to uri.edu/hc.

“We expect the audiences to be amazed at what’s going on. People think they have a lot more privacy than they do on the Internet. But we have no idea how widespread the surveillance is. I would say nothing is private,” said Ed Lamagna, University of Rhode Island professor of computer science, one of four coordinators for the University’s 2014 Honors Colloquium.

Fellow coordinator Lisa DiPippo said systems and individuals are vulnerable to massive privacy breeches and cyber crime.

“If you want a recent example, look at Stuxnet (a computer worm dating back to 2010), the world’s first digital weapon that helped impede Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons. There is lots of speculation that governments were behind that effort,” said DiPippo, professor of computer science and the academic director of the Cyber Security Program in URI’s Digitial Forensics & Cyber Security Center.

In addition to a lecture on Stuxnet, DiPippo said the colloquium will also address critical infrastructure such as transportation, electricity and water systems. “Bridges, tunnels, water and highways are all controlled by computer systems. One of our speakers will be talking about government’s cyber efforts to protect them.”

Joining Lamagna and DiPippo as coordinators, are Victor Fay-Wolfe, professor and director of URI’s Cybersecurity and Digital Forensics Center and Yan (Lindsay) Sun, professor of electrical, computer and biomedical engineering.

The colloquium, the University’s premier lecture series now in its 51st year, has attracted renowned experts from around the globe on such topics as the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, the rising economies and influence of China and India, health care, education and many others. But this year, the focus is on a topic that has been in the news constantly, from the release of secret U.S. government data to the theft of personal information from 70 million Target store account holders.

Harry Lewis
Harry Lewis, the first speaker in the URI Honors Colloquium on “Cybersecurity & Privacy,” is the Gordon McKay professor of computer science at Harvard University, a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and co-author of “Blown to Bits: Your Life Liberty and Happiness After the Internet Explosion.” His talk is Sept. 9. Photo courtesy of Harry Lewis.

The series begins Sept. 9 with a talk,” Too Much Information?” by Harry Lewis, the Gordon McKay professor of computer science at Harvard University, a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and co-author of “Blown to Bits: Your Life Liberty and Happiness After the Internet Explosion.”

Lewis will discuss how the digital revolution democratized the creation and communication of all kinds of information, and how society has grown to love being connected round the clock. But Lewis says everything that connects us also tracks us and that the vast troves of detailed information we willingly provide about our movements, purchases and proclivities are passed to governments, marketers, employers and insurers and saved forever.

“Harry Lewis will provide a survey of the field and set the tone for the colloquium,” Lamagna said. “Once upon a time, (data) storage was expensive. Now storage is cheap, and so things that we do and buy are being monitored and saved. When you browse in a bookstore, no one really knows what you are looking for, although there are security cameras. But when you browse at Amazon, they know about the kinds of books you want and the interests you have, and that information can be used for the company’s gain. Google probably knows more about you than your spouse does.”

Other highlights from the program are:

Tuesday, Sept. 23, “Stuxnet and the Launch of the World’s First Digital Weapon,” by Kim Zetter, senior award-winning journalist for Wired. Zetter will be speaking about her upcoming book, Countdown to Zero Day, chronicling the discovery and dissection of the Stuxnet virus that was created to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program.

Tuesday, Oct. 21, Panel on Cybercrime, with Congressman Jim Langevin, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus; Joseph Demarest Jr., assistant director of the FBI Cyber Division; Cheri Caddy, director for cybersecurity, policy integration and outreach for the White House national security staff; and Roby Luna, president of Aretech Inc., an information technology and security engineering firm out of Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, Nov. 12, “ Big Data, Data Brokers and the Business of Tracking,” by Julie Brill, a Federal Trade Commissioner since 2010, who has received several national awards for her work protecting consumers. At the FTC, Brill has been a staunch advocate of defending consumer privacy, especially with regard to online and mobile technologies. She supports the creation and implementation of ways to provide consumers with better information and control over the collection and use of their personal online information.

Julia Angwin
The Tuesday, Nov. 18, lecture is by Julia Angwin, an award-winning investigative journalist for the independent news organization ProPublica. Photo courtesy of Julia Angwin.

Tuesday, Nov. 18, “Is Privacy Becoming a Luxury Good?”, by Julia Angwin, an award-winning investigative journalist for the independent news organization ProPublica. From 2000 to 2013, she was a staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where she was on a team of reporters that won a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of corporate corruption. In her new best seller, Dragnet Nation, Angwin presents an unsettling look at how the government, private companies, and even criminals use technology to indiscriminately sweep up vast amounts of our personal data.

Tuesday, Dec. 2, “Surveillance and Power,” by Bruce Schneier, internationally renowned cryptographer, computer security and privacy specialist and author. Dubbed a “security guru” by The Economist, he has published 12 books on the subjects of computer security and cryptography. His monthly newsletter Crypto-Gram and his influential blog Schneier on Security are read by more than 250,000 people. He has testified before Congress and served on several government committees. Schneier is a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School and a program fellow at the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

Background on URI’s leadership roles in digital forensics and cybersecurity.

The University of Rhode Island Digital Forensics and Cyber Security Center supports state, national, and international public welfare through education, research, training, and service in forensic investigations and securing information systems.

The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have selected the University of Rhode Island as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education and in Information Assurance Research. The goal of these programs is to reduce vulnerability in the nation’s information infrastructure by promoting higher education and research and producing a growing number of professionals with such expertise in various disciplines.

Presenting Sponsor: Cox Business

Major Sponsors: 
URI Honors Program.

Sponsors: 
URI Office of the President;
URI Office of the Provost;
The Mark and Donna Ross Honors Colloquium Humanities Endowment;
The Thomas Silvia and Shannon Chandley Honors Colloquium Endowment;
URI College of Human Science and Services;
URI Talent Development;
URI Multicultural Center;
URI College of Arts & Sciences;
URI Harrington School of Communications and Media;
URI John Hazen White, Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service;
URI College of Pharmacy;
URI College of Engineering;
URI College of the Environment and Life Sciences;
URI College of Nursing;
URI College of Business Administration;
URI Division of Student Affairs;
URI Department of Communications and Marketing;
URI Department of Publications and Services;
URI ITS Instructional Technology and Media Services