With a generous starting grant from the Hewlett Foundation, the CLTC was established in 2015 as a research and collaboration hub at the University of California, Berkeley. Housed in the School of Information (I School), the Center will create an effective dialogue among industry, academia, policy, and practitioners, with an aim to foster research programs, technologies, and recommendations. CLTC’s work is founded on a future-oriented conceptualization of cybersecurity—what it could imply and mean for human beings, machines, and the societies that will depend on both.
Cybersecurity is quickly becoming the master problem of the Internet era. Digital technologies connected by the Internet have the potential to extend revolutionary contributions to human life and support the generation of new ideas, politics, relationships, and businesses, but only if they can be made secure. To get there will require a broad set of changes, where the intersections between humans and machines are more creatively and deeply imagined, more proactively defined, and in turn, more effectively researched and managed.
The CLTC’s mission is to develop a deeper and broader understanding of information technology security. We conduct and support rigorous research into the socio-economic, technology, and policy issues that will bear on security wherever humans and digital machines interact. This requires us to take a long-term look into the future of these interactions and to design a platform for studies, plans, recommendations, and actions that our community of researchers and practitioners will undertake.
In our first year, we convened a series of events in which research and academic colleagues from diverse disciplines—including computer science, engineering, law, public policy, social sciences, humanities, business, and other domains—helped us define the contours and substance of several different possible future scenarios for cybersecurity by examining the intersection of digital machines, the Internet, and human societies. We refined these scenarios through summits with external constituents in the business, non-profit, and public policy spheres.
These cybersecurity scenarios are informing the CLTC’s research framework, and provide a carefully directed approach to enabling and pursuing investigations that will contribute to better understanding of important emergent cybersecurity problems and solutions. The goal is to describe and help bring about a more secure cyber environment that enables and expands (rather than limits) what humans and machines can achieve together.
From technology to public policy, behavioral science to biometrics, CLTC is working to shape human society in the digital age. Since our inception, we have allocated more than two million dollars in funding to dozens of researchers working on the leading edge of computer science and engineering, as well as economics, political science, law, psychology, and other relevant domains. Our grantees are actively pursuing important cybersecurity challenges, including:
- How can organizations better detect spear-phishing cyberattacks?
- How could neural signals be used for online authentication?
- How effective are tactics such as financial account closures and asset seizures in deterring cyber criminals?
- What types of defenses could help protect at-risk activists and NGOs from state-level surveillance?
- How can corporations better understand and manage legal liabilities and other risks related to cyber attacks?
Training diverse researchers and professionals is a core challenge in the cybersecurity space. From our home in the I School, CLTC is developing new programs to improve and expand education.
Among other activities, we are partnering with the I School and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences to develop a new master’s degree program in cybersecurity. We also organize regular seminars featuring speakers from diverse fields and help lead a weekly reading group to discuss works related to emerging issues in cybersecurity with students across campus. In addition, we are developing a technical training for women and minorities who may be interested in transitioning from other careers into the cybersecurity field.
CLTC is helping connect leaders from companies, government, NGOs, schools and universities, and other institutions—in California and around the world. We actively support research partnerships in the United States and globally; we participate in industry events and conferences; and we regularly invite guest speakers for seminars and presentations.
As examples of recent events, we hosted a meeting of the White House-led Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity; we have co-led events with partners like Christian Science Monitor’s Passcode and the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C.; and our Lunch Seminar Series has brought a diverse range of professionals and experts to the UC Berkeley campus, including:
- Admiral Michael Rogers, Commander, U.S. Cyber Command; Director, NSA
- Vinton G. Cerf, Co-founder of the Internet
- James C. Trainor, Jr., Assistant Director, Cyber Division, FBI
- Parisa Tabriz, Head of Information Security Engineering, Google
CLTC also is committed to taking thoughtful and innovative direct action when appropriate. In the past, the Center has issued policy recommendations for the new administration; submitted written testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Information Technology; and published a white paper proposing a Cyber Workforce Incubator, an innovative solution to the federal government’s cybersecurity skills shortage.