The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University has long been known for the depth of its research and expertise with regard to international issues and its leading scholars and practitioners who have addressed fundamental questions of war and peace. In the postwar period, our faculty and graduates have been among the leading thinkers on nuclear doctrine, U.S. foreign policy toward Asia and Europe, approaches to conflict resolution, the design and implementation of institutions of global governance, and much more. This student-run Journal of International Affairs has, in turn, been at the forefront of engaging critical global policy challenges. I congratulate the editors for prioritizing the topic of cybersecurity and cyber risk as a focus for this edition.
The term “cyber” itself has come to connote security issues, but, in fact, cyber is just another dimension of “Internet” policy, which touches most areas of life today. The Internet has proven to be an astonishing instrument in support of innovation and inclusion. Interconnection and globalization are creating vast new avenues of risk and potential conflict. Cybersecurity is now a concern to everyone—the individual, the corporation, the NGO, or the nation-state. Cyber theft and cybercrime continue to threaten the data and personal information of millions of people worldwide. The possibility of cyber conflict also poses increasing global risks to nations, which has prompted a flurry of international efforts over the past few years to develop agreed-upon norms in cyberspace. Moreover, many nations are developing their own domestic policy and legal frameworks around cybersecurity and, where possible, exploring bilateral or regional arrangements. I think it is fair to say that we are still at the early stages of the formation of both domestic and international policy frameworks and it is critical that these policy frameworks fall into place quickly and thoughtfully.
Although research and writing around cybersecurity policy has been underway for several decades, the analytical and theoretical work around cybersecurity and cyber conflict is still being formed. A number of leading academic institutions now have cyber experts in one department or another—most typically in engineering and data sciences—but few have brought disciplines together such that experts in law, economics, security, and engineering collaborate on the many dimensions of Internet policy and cybersecurity. This is an area warranting significant academic research and collaboration across disciplines and with experts outside academia, and SIPA has taken steps to bring the right disciplines together to develop robust analytical tools and solutions. Cybersecurity policy will also be an important career path for students, whether they pursue employment at tech firms, central banks, NGOs, the financial sector, or governmental institutions.
For our part, SIPA is also increasing our research, teaching, and convening activities. In June 2016, we hosted a state of the field conference on cyber conflict. Over the past year we launched the first New York Cyber Task Force to examine what constitutes a defensible cyberspace, engaging leaders in the financial services and critical infrastructure sectors to consider steps that could be taken to support an open and safe Internet. We have undertaken new scholarship in the area of Internet governance and global data flows across international borders. SIPA has also introduced new courses and capstones to expose students to this emerging field and the mix of disciplines required to be effective practitioners.
It is both natural and necessary for SIPA’s graduate students and faculty to continue to engage the critical issues of international security facing the world today, and that increasingly means confronting cyber risk and cybersecurity. I believe this issue of the journal will shed new light on some of the inherent challenges—and opportunities—of cybersecurity and its evolving impact on global public policy.
—Merit E. Janow
Dean, School of International and Public Affairs
Professor of Practice, International Economic Law and International Affairs