Baker Institute policy report looks at cybersecurity

February 24, 2011

A new article written by a fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy calls on the intelligence community to jointly create a policy on cybersecurity and determine the degree to which the U.S. should protect intellectual property and national infrastructure of other nations. The author also comments on how aggressive the United States should be in its proactive cyber-spying activities.

"Treasure Trove or Trouble: Cyber-Enabled Intelligence and International Politics" was authored by Chris Bronk, a fellow of information technology policy at the Baker Institute and a former U.S. State Department diplomat. The report was published this week in the National Military Intelligence Association's American Intelligence Journal, a leading magazine for intelligence professionals.

"America wants a secure cyberspace, but its intelligence agencies have found enormous utility in using their own computer hacking capabilities to collect confidential information from foreign adversaries," Bronk said. "This raises the question of how the U.S. government can push for global cybersecurity while at the same time using cyber means to collect intelligence on potentially threatening regimes such as Iran."

Bronk kick-starts the debate on how altruistic the United States can be on a secure cyberspace when it may benefit enormously from the insecurity of others' information networks.

This week, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman is again introducing a comprehensive cybersecurity bill with the issue of protecting the vitally important digital networks that make so much of the national infrastructure work.

"There remains an enormous vacuum in policy as to how America's intelligence agencies, many of whom are charged with roles is securing cyberspace under the Lieberman bill, can continue to use clandestine cyber means in collecting intelligence, or even engaging in covert action against other countries and transnational groups," Bronk said. "This is an issue that needs consideration and input not just within Washington political circles, but far beyond the Beltway, including firms in Silicon Valley and other tech centers around the U.S."
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Bronk previously served as a career diplomat with the Department of State on assignments both overseas and in Washington. His last assignment was in the Office of eDiplomacy, the department's internal think tank on information technology, knowledge management, computer security and interagency collaboration. He also has experience in political affairs, counternarcotics, immigration and U.S.-Mexico border issues. Since arriving at Rice, Bronk has studied a number of areas, including information security, technology for immigration management, broadband policy, Web 2.0 governance and the militarization of cyberspace. He teaches classes on the intersection of computing and politics in Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering.

Bronk has provided commentary for a variety of news outlets, including ABC, NPR, the BBC and the Houston Chronicle.

Bronk has a Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He also studied international relations at Oxford University.

To read the full article, visit http://www.bakerinstitute.org/publications/ITP-pub-BronkTreasureTroveAIJ-022211.pdf.

To schedule an interview with Bronk, contact David Ruth at druth@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

Located in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. A Tier One research university known for its "unconventional wisdom," Rice has schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and offers its 3,485 undergraduates and 2,275 graduate students a wide range of majors. Rice has the sixth-largest endowment per student among American private research universities and is rated No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Its undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. With a residential college system that builds close-knit and diverse communities and collaborative culture, Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review.

Since its inception in 1993, the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy has established itself as one of the leading nonpartisan public policy think tanks in the country. With a strong track record of achievement based on the work of Rice University faculty and the institute's endowed fellows and scholars, the institute conducts important research on domestic and foreign policy issues with the goal of bridging the gap between the theory and practice of public policy. Learn more about the institute at http://www.bakerinstitute.org or on the institute's blog, http://blogs.chron.com/bakerblog/.

Rice University

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