July 5, 2016
Officially, it was a cybersecurity briefing on Capitol Hill hosted by Jean Morrison, Boston University provost, and the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus, but it felt a little like a college freshman-level computer science seminar. Sharon Goldberg, a College of Arts & Sciences associate professor of computer science, was explaining some of the deep insecurities built into the internet, and why they matter. Her students were a group of Congressional aides and interns and other Hill staffers. They had crowded into a room in the Cannon House Office Building recently on their lunch hour and were taking copious notes so they could better inform policymakers, who are scrambling these days to catch up with technical reality.
“The internet was designed several decades ago as a network for universities, for graduate students to send each other emails, to do scientific computing—not for what it’s doing today,” said Goldberg, one of three cybersecurity experts who addressed the briefing. It was a time, she added, “when basically everyone on the internet believed they could all trust each other because they were all graduate students playing with computers.”