Diverse, International Mix of Participants, Key Note Speakers Highlight Two-Week Program for Cyber Security Studies Course

Diverse, International Mix of Participants and Key Note Speakers Highlight Two-Week Program for Cyber Security Studies Course

Diverse, International Mix of Participants, Key Note Speakers Highlight Two-Week Program for Cyber Security Studies Course

By James E. Brooks
Public Affairs Office
George C. Marshall European Center Public Affairs Director

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (Dec. 2, 2015) - In the time it takes to read this story, more than 2000 people will become victims of a cyber-crime.  In the next hour, the U.S. Navy expects to see 110,000 cyber-attacks.  By day’s end, approximately 600,000 Facebook accounts will be compromised.  And by the end of 2016, global cybercrime is expected to cost nations in excess of $100 billion. 

The world of cyber-networks intended to make industry and life easier and more efficient has also become a haven for international criminals, terrorists and “hacktivists” not limited by geography or sophisticated military capability.

Today, a one-of-a-kind, two-week program on cyber security studies begins at the George C. Marshall European Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.  In its second year, the Program in Cyber Security Studies brings together government and military leaders from nearly 50 nations to reach a shared understanding of international and country specific approaches to a more secure, global cyber network. 

“I think one of the biggest things we learned from last year was that we didn’t aim high enough in getting the top leaders to attend.  This year we achieved that and that’s attributed to our U.S. and German embassies and country teams extending invitations to our partners,” said Professor Phil Lark, director of PCSS.  “We had to close the registration for the program early.  We couldn’t satiate the demand of our partners who wanted to come and share from others.”

According to Lark, participants will hear and discuss from cyber experts working in senior military, private industry and government positions.  They will be exposed to best practices for governance and management of information systems as well as cooperative approaches to shared cyber challenges.  Among the scheduled keynote speakers are European Court of Human Rights Judge Robert Spano; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Cyber Policy Aaron Hughes; U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary, Dept. of Homeland Security Greg Touhill; private sector executives from Microsoft and Hewlett Packard.

In addition to hearing from the experts, participants will be able to discuss issues in more detail with each other through smaller breakout seminars.

“The biggest challenge we have with a course like this is building trust between people.  To get them to understand cyber security isn’t anything magical or complex.  It’s really about something you deal with people.  Sharing what I’m doing is transparent and clear and that the challenges we face are exactly the same.  Cyberspace is unique because there are no borders.  Everything moves at the speed of light,” said Lark. 

Another aspect of PCSS is an interactive computer simulation game designed specifically for the George C. Marshall Center that will pit participants against a terrorist operating in the cyber realm. 

“Called ‘CounterNet,’ the simulation gives serving government practitioners an opportunity to learn how violent extreme organizations use the internet to their advantage.  These organizations use the internet through propaganda, recruiting, and financing.   So we will run the participants through this stimulation so they can go back home to better inform senior government officials and decision makers whom they work for,” said Lark.

The relationships formed between the 89 registered participants from 47 countries will help create an international network of trust, and familiarity where cyber challenges can be addressed.  One thing that won’t be found in this 2.0-version of PCSS is a solution to cybersecurity.

“The field of cybersecurity is too big.  Strategy and policy, all the things that governments and private industry have to deal with, is too complex.  The discussion to address it, isn’t well framed right now.  I think in the future, some of the issues we will discuss in this program, our participants will take home and take initial steps to take action in their countries.  That’s one of the big challenges,” said Lark. 

Another strength and value of the PCSS resident course is the diversity of the 87 participants.  There is almost an equal mix between civilian and military professionals.  Participants represent nations in every U.S. Department of Defense combatant command area of responsibility.  Eighty percent of the participants are men and 20 percent women. 

More information about the George C. Marshall European Center’s PCSS program can be found online at this link.