Cyber Freedom & Security

Fall 2017 Reading Group | Syllabus

Wednesdays 5:30pm - 7:30pm, roughly every other week:
Aug. 30 | Sep. 13 | Sep. 27 | Oct. 4 | Oct. 18 | Nov. 1 | Nov. 15

Location: ISP Fellows Lounge (Hall of Graduate Studies, Rm. 112), 320 York St

Facilitator: Sean O'Brien

This reading group will focus on cyber freedom in law and cyber security in practice. Though often perceived as diametrically opposed, the concepts of cyber freedom and cyber security are in fact complementary, with software, hardware, and spectrum freedom as a prerequisite (but not a guarantee) for cyber security.

We explore this relationship within the context of pervasive corporate and government surveillance, a reality exposed most prominently by the 2013 Edward Snowden disclosures. Snowden relied upon a mix of Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) to communicate extremely sensitive data, despite powerful adversaries, because he simply "couldn't trust" proprietary alternatives.

The contemporary lawyer and legal scholar faces a sea of complex digital choices, which may be better informed through studying the
security practice of whistleblowers, activists, and journalists. Contemporary problems are further complicated by the increasing frequency and escalation of cyber attacks, massive data breaches, and the threat of global cyberwar. We will reflect upon these current events, discussing their effect on the cyber landscape.

We try to be as comprehensive as possible, discussing a wide variety of FOSS tools/applications with accompanying real-world examples. At the end of the course, a participant should be able to:

  1. Understand the significance of privacy as it applies to software-mediated communication.
  2. Describe the general scope of Five Eyes government surveillance and that of corporate partners.
  3. Perceive the importance of FOSS, transparent development, and open technology as security principle.
  4. Evaluate emerging technology on its merit and potential for data security, privacy, and anonymity.
  5. Initiate and sustain encrypted communication, often over networks that safeguard anonymity.
  6. Apply simple techniques to everyday Web browsing that improve user privacy and data security.
  7. Explore the digital frontiers of GNU/Linux, P2P, Tor, and the Deep Web.
  8. Develop a communications plan for real-world implementation of privacy-respecting technology.