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What Is Cyber Policy and Why Is It Important?

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The Importance of Cyber Policy

Internet usage has grown so quickly over the last two decades that technology now touches almost every aspect of our everyday lives. The importance of cybersecurity has thus never been greater, and while cybersecurity professionals scramble to prevent cyber espionage and protect assets using cyber surveillance and risk assessment, security threats often develop faster than legal parameters are able to monitor and address.

Cyber policy regulates all aspects of digital data exchange, including the Internet, data privacy and network usage – as well as cyber defense. In a free society such as the United States, cyber policy presents unique challenges, as national security concerns and business interests must be weighed against freedom of speech, privacy and accessibility concerns.

As with all policy, cyber policy must strike a balance between necessary regulation and social freedom.

How are cyber attacks influencing policymakers?

In early 2015, health insurance company Anthem experienced a big data breach – leaving 80 million customers at risk of having their personal information stolen. Similarly, Target’s 2013 data breach impacted millions of customers.

The 2014 cyber attack against Sony Pictures showed that the culprits are not necessarily small groups or individuals, and attacks can come from nation states and play out on a global scale. More than 3,000 Sony computers and 800 servers were compromised; employee records, unreleased films and unfinished scripts were stolen.

As attacks like these continue, global cyber policy efforts are ramping up quickly. In April of 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a cybersecurity bill that would provide legal liability protections for companies sharing cyber threat information amongst each other or with the government.

U.S. Department of State’s Coordinator for Cyber Issues, Christopher Painter, is also making strides in the cyber policy world by visiting different countries to investigate what they are doing to protect computer networks. One of his goals is to promote a set of voluntary international standards, which dictate that a nation will not knowingly support online activities that damage public service infrastructure.

Policy Impact in Our Day-to-Day Lives

Cyber policy’s impact is not limited to large institutions and can play an important role in our day-to-day lives. In a landmark decision with vocal advocates on both sides, the FCC ruled recently that the Internet is a public utility and can be regulated as such. The decision will allow the FCC to defend “Net Neutrality” and dictate that Internet service providers must treat all content equally and cannot give favorable treatment to corporate partners. Just like telephone companies cannot provide better service depending on whom you call, Internet companies will have to provide equitable service regardless of which websites you use. So for instance, even if they are partners with Amazon, they must provide the same quality of service for Netflix, Hulu and other video providers.

Challenges of Cyber Policy Implementation

Each new security breach and cybersecurity initiative yields questions about the extent to which the government should control the Internet, which threats should be reported to the public, and whether the Internet should be used as a combative tool.

The challenges of cyber policy therefore can involve multiple levels of debate and political nuance, and can have a far reaching impact on personal freedom and national security. Lack of holistic policy can yield to weak protections as differing political agendas can complicate progress; thus, there is a critical need for policy experts to guide politicians, help craft laws, and educate corporations and the public alike.

Is a cyber policy career right for you?

There is an urgent need for cyber policy experts and companies are hiring at every level. If you are interested in learning more about cyber policy issues, ethics, security, privacy, and risk assessment and compliance on a global scale, you might consider a career in cyber policy.

As a cyber policy professional, you might be tasked with ensuring cybersecurity practices are up-to-date and following up-to-the-minute best practices from both a technical and legal perspective. You might be hired by a politician to advise and craft policy, you might be hired by a corporation to oversee a cyber surveillance division to ensure they adhered to legal guidelines, or perhaps you will create your own cyber policy consultancy. Whichever road you take, you will have the opportunity to impact the lives of millions of people, both in the United States and abroad.

Whether you specialize in cyber policy, cyber data fusion and analysis, or both, the Master of Science in Cybersecurity program will educate and prepare you to understand security challenges and cyber ethics so that you can play a pivotal role in policy implementation and the battle against cyber espionage.



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