AFRI to lead cyber symposium in October



by Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs


8/5/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- The Air Force Research Institute here is hosting a cyber symposium Oct. 26-27. The event, titled "Cyber Power: The Quest for a Common Ground," is designed to improve the lack of accepted standards for definitions, data structures, threat assessments and policies both within and across communities that employ cyber power.

Former director of the CIA and retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden emphasized the need for a common understanding of cyberspace in a recent article in the Air Force Research Institute's "Strategic Studies Quarterly."

"Rarely has something been so important and so talked about with less clarity and less apparent understanding than this phenomenon. But few of us (myself included) have created the broad structural framework within which to comfortably and confidently place these varied phenomena. And that matters," Hayden wrote. "I have sat in very small group meetings in Washington, been briefed on an operational need and an operational solution, and been unable (along with my colleagues) to decide on a course of action because we lacked a clear picture of the long-term legal and policy implications of any decision we might make ... "

The conference will give cyber professionals from interagency, joint, industry, academic and international entities a forum to exchange ideas and experiences, according to Panayotis Yannakogeorgos, the organizer of the conference.

"In recent years, large scale threats, including the Stuxnet worm, the emergence of privateer hacker networks and the militarization of cyberspace, have raised the awareness of government decision makers and the private sector about the great risk cyber threats pose to vital systems and infrastructures upon which our societies and economies depend. There is no coordination or common methodology with which to address the problem," he said. "I hope that this conference begins opening avenues of dialogues and shared understanding amongst all cyber stakeholders. We're advocating a 'whole of society' approach."

Panel discussions will be held at the event to foster a dialogue among attendees. Each panel will consist of representatives from private and public sectors and will focus on a specific theme.

"The conference will be organized around four themes related to the study of cyber threats: data needs and structures for situational awareness; common analytics and visualization; threat, trend, and target assessment methodology; and policy and law," Yannakogeorgos said. "The format adopted for the conference will encourage an open dialogue among attendees following the Chatham House rule. This event will also serve as an excellent networking opportunity among key cyber researchers and the policy makers."

According to chathamhouse.org, under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use information but cannot divulge the identity of the source, which facilitates free speech and confidentiality at meetings.

Yannakogeorgos stressed that while the Air Force is leading the way in cyberspace, the help of joint, interagency and private sector partners is invaluable.

"The way we've structured each panel is such that it reflects a whole of society approach rather than just an Air Force approach. Although the Air Force is on the cutting edge of all things cyber, we can't go it alone without the help of our joint, interagency and private sector partners," he said. "We expect that the panelists, who are some of the nation's best and brightest thinkers on cyber policy issues, will have a fruitful discussion that will inform the broader communities of (cyber experts)."

For more information or to register for the symposium, visit http://afri.au.af.mil/cyber/ or follow @AFRI09 on Twitter.