Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

March 16, 2015

The US Government has been preoccupied with cybersecurity for more than a decade. In the last five years, economic espionage and massive corporate intrusions have raised cybersecurity alarms in boardrooms across the country. The vast majority of US citizens are only now beginning to realize that identity theft is the least threatening aspect of the national cybersecurity challenge. Despite the growing importance of cybersecurity for protecting US computers and networks from a variety of different types of hackers, our language – and specifically our metaphors – for understanding cybersecurity challenges lag behind the threat. These metaphors, such as deterrence or liability, are often old, borrowed, and offer an incomplete and sometimes dangerous frame for the cybersecurity challenges we face. These metaphors powerfully influence how we think about cybersecurity, what standards or policies we formulate, and what mix of offensive and defensive actions we take.

Cyber security metaphors are particularly relevant to US law makers and military leaders, because they must formulate the policies that shape how the US intelligence, homeland security and military communities will respond to current and future threats. Starting from the premise that discrete metaphors shape what we do (and what we do not do) in the realm of cybersecurity, this presentation will explore a set of the most common cybersecurity metaphors and the opportunities and challenges they present as we develop policies and technologies to manage threats.

Dr. Jesse Goldhammer is Associate Dean of Business Development and Strategic Planning at UC Berkeley’s School of Information (I School), where he fosters cross-campus collaborations and external partnerships to expand the I School’s programs and helps to direct the I School’s new Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity. Prior to working at UC Berkeley, Jesse was a principal at Monitor Deloitte, where he helped governments to apply innovation tools and techniques to their hardest challenges. Jesse co-led a business unit focused on developing innovative intelligence analysis programs and is a published expert in scenario planning. Jesse is also a specialist in the dynamics of illicit networks and is co-author of Deviant Globalization: Black Market Economy in the 21st Century (Bloomsbury Academic: 2011). He holds a PhD in political science from UC Berkeley.

Cybersecurity metaphors: How they shape policy, research and national security

The Center for Global Security Research (CGSR) sponsored this seminar entitled "Cybersecurity Metaphors: How They Shape National Cyber Policy, Technical Research and the Future of US National Security" on March 16, 2015, at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The seminar was presented by Jesse Goldhammer, associate dean of business development and strategic planning at UC Berkeley’s School of Information (I School).