The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is developing a Congressional Cybersecurity Lab (CCL) intended to help teach technically unsavvy politicians the wily ways of cybersecurity. As noted by Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian), the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation issued a grant in November of 2015 to the tune of US$400,000 to the Center to fund development of the CCL.
There is going to be a Congressional Cybersecurity Lab to teach Congress about cyber. https://t.co/eEzQe8IznP— Christopher Soghoian (@csoghoian) January 19, 2016
The grant description:
A grant to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will support the creation of a new Congressional Cybersecurity Lab that builds congressional capacity on cybersecurity in a nonpartisan manner. The lab aims to close the knowledge gap with a dedicated educational program for Capitol Hill, introducing cyber fundamentals to a nonexpert policymaking audience. It will give a boost to tomorrow’s cybersecurity leaders in the legislative branch and connect them in a lasting network, thereby contributing to more informed cyber policymaking.
Put another way, the CCL hopes to teach the folks crafting laws effecting cybersecurity what that actually means. To extrapolate greatly, the CCL might well teach the folks in congress why a back door open to anyone is really open to everyone.
From the CCL's website:
The core of the Lab is a six-week seminar series that introduces participants to foundational topics in cybersecurity: how networks work and what defends them, key bad actors and their tools, the roles of different sectors in preventing or responding to threats. Each seminar will be led by top technologists and scholars drawn from the private, public, and non-profit sectors. Each week's seminar also includes a tabletop exercise--in which participants are divided into groups and given scenarios to roleplay that emphasize the role of the legislative branch--as well as a social component. Unless otherwise noted, sessions are held at the Wilson Center.
The Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars is a non-partisan think tank that is technically attached to the Smithsonian Institute. The Center's raison d'être is to provide information to and increase understanding by policy makers in the U.S. government.
Cybersecurity is seemingly a wild, untamed world to most politicians, and many seem to rely on truthiness rather than facts. This is particularly pertinent to companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and other tech giants as law enforcement and U.S. intelligence services run up against encryption. The CCL could help close the gap in political understanding of why encryption is important for everyone.
Or so one might hope. So far we have a think tank with an idea being funded by a singly, though significant, grant.