Browsing: Cybersecurity

I was a math researcher at the University of Michigan back in 2008 when I had the crazy—one could even say random—notion to shift from studying pure mathematics to studying quantum information science. My mentor at the time was confused by this. Why give up the field in which you have all your training and switch to something you don’t know? My short answer is that math is both an art and a tool. I had seen the artistic side and now I wanted to put math to use. Perhaps more importantly, though, quantum information just seemed cool. It was a young field, it had gotten attention in popular science media, and the underlying mathematics was really interesting. This was more…

I recently had the chance to talk with the legendary Vint Cerf, one of the founding fathers of the internet. We had a wide-ranging discussion about the past, present and future of the internet, network security and what it would take to successfully, safely and reliably merge the digital and physical worlds, a concept known as the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. As its name suggests, the internet of things will connect all kinds of things, bringing us a wealth of data about, well, everything that we can use to improve our lives. For example, internet-connected smart parking meters are helping people find available parking spaces, saving time, fuel and probably more than a few relationships. People are using fitness…

I’m a bit emotional these days. My youngest—my baby—just graduated from high school. It’s the end of an era for our family: The years of homework, packing lunches, attending sporting events, and endless nagging to study for exams are finally over. It’s a bittersweet time as a mom. If I think about it too much, I get a little teary-eyed. I’m so proud of my son—he got into his dream school with a full scholarship!—yet I worry if we’ve taught him everything he needs to know. I’ve been waking up at night, thinking of things I still need to tell him. He assures me, with an eye roll that only a teenager can do, that he knows everything. I just…

When I went to graduate school to pursue my master’s degree 35 years ago, I couldn’t have predicted where my study of mathematics would end up taking me. I simply thought I was going to become a math professor. Before digital communications, the internet, and personal computers became part of our daily lives, cryptography—the area I have devoted my career to—was really only used by the military, diplomats, and spies. So far as the general public was concerned, it wasn’t anything other than a theoretical research area. For me, it was the mathematics—the abstract algebra, Boolean functions, and number theory—that made cryptography interesting. Beautiful Mathematics For a long time, the only way you could encrypt radio signals was by using…

After four years of research and development, NIST has published a groundbreaking new security guideline that addresses the longstanding problem of how to engineer trustworthy, secure systems—systems that can provide continuity of capabilities, functions, services, and operations during a wide range of disruptions, threats, and other hazards. In fact, I think that Special Publication 800-160, Systems Security Engineering, is the most important publication that I have been associated with in my two decades of service with NIST. I want to share what led me to this conclusion. The Current Landscape The United States, and every other industrialized nation, is experiencing explosive growth in information technology. These technological innovations have given us access to computing and communications capabilities unparalleled in the…

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