Cyber Round Up: US Government Agencies Ignoring Cybersecurity Warnings, Post-Paris Renewed Debate About Government Access to Encrypted Data, On Encryption: Big Tech Is Not Budging

  • U.S. Government Agencies Ignoring 840 Warnings on Poor Cybersecurity (Sputnik News): According to this article by Sputnik News, the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) made approximately 2,000 recommendations to improve information security in U.S. government agencies over the past six years and to-date, the government has implemented slightly over half of the recommendations (1,160).  Weaknesses included both design and implementation of information security controls in such key agencies as the Department of Homeland Security, according to Sputnik.  Meanwhile, the report also indicates that cyber-hacking incidents have increased from 5,503 in 2006 to 67,168 in 2014.  The full article can be found here.


  • Overnight Cybersecurity: Post-Paris fears spark encryption debate (The Hill): In the wake of the terrorists attacks in Paris, several key players, such as CIA Director John Brennan, and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), are becoming increasingly vocal about law enforcement’s need to access encrypted data, according to the article.  The article indicates that unnamed European counterterrorism officials told the New York Times that they believe the attackers leveraged some form of encryption in order to communicate, and coordinate the attacks.  Additionally, it appears that several lawmakers are pushing for legislative action to ensure that the government has access to encrypted data (Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr (R-NC), and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), specifically), according to the article.  The Hill also reports in the same article that lawmakers are issuing warnings about the lack of security measures in the Department of Education’s database which contains sensitive information on hundreds of millions of Americans.  Perhaps the Education Department should employ encryption techniques?  The full article is here.


  • On Encryption – Beg Tech Will not Yield (CNBC): On the flip side, the tech industry continues to remain steadfastly opposed to government access to encryption, according to CNBC.  Mark Cuban, using his Cyber Dust messaging app (which deletes messages 24 seconds after they are read), stated “Encryption is a fundamental underpinning of the freedom of speech”, according to the article.  The article also quotes the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (“EFF”) Executive Director, Cindy Cohn: “These heinous attacks must not be used to justify further erosion of our security, civil liberties or privacy.”  Peter Firstbrook, an analyst with Gartner says the common argument against backdoors to allow government access to encrypted data is the “if you have nothing to hide…” which Firstbrook believes fails to acknowledge that everyone has private details they would not want exposed and the shift to a surveillance state would fundamentally alter the way that people interact and behave, according to the article.  The full article can be found here.
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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic. Full biography

Shelby E. Mann

Ryan D. WhiteShelby is a second year law student at the Syracuse University College of Law. She is the 2018-9 Editor in Chief of the Syracuse Law Review, as well as a member of the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and the senior editor for the Syrian Accountability Project. During her final year at the University of Missouri, she served as a full-time news producer for ABC 17 News. Shelby spent her first summer of law school at the Shelby County District Attorney General's Office in Memphis, Tenn., in the Public Corruption and Economic Crimes Unit. Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

Anna Maria Castillois 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography


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