Discoveries Lecture Highlights Threat of Cyber-Terrorism

November 23, 2009

On November 19, a distinguished group of CAS panelists held court on an emerging security threat: cyber-terrorism. Part of the Discoveries lecture and learning series for alumni and the broader university community, the Photonics Center event featured professors Joseph Wippl (International Relations), Arthur Hulnick (International Relations), Leonid Reyzin (Computer Science), and Dr. Robert Popp (CAS’92). The discussion was moderated by Azer Bestavros (Computer Science).

The panelists emphasized that cyberspace is under constant attack. As the world’s infrastructure becomes increasingly grounded on the Internet for commerce and communication, the consequences of these attacks become more ominous. Worse still, the perpetrators are usually invisible and difficult to trace, be they individuals or state actors, and they often carry out their attacks remotely with a worldwide network of hijacked personal computers.

“The fundamental difference between cyber-attackers and conventional attacks is that the mode is code,” said Reyzin. “There’s nothing to transport, so it’s much harder to look at the flow of information.”

Corporations, nonprofits, governments, and others all have a stake in the self-maintaining organism that is the Internet with no one entity in overall control. The panelists discussed how we could defend ourselves and our economy in a way that balances cyber security, privacy, civil liberties, and innovation.

Arts & Sciences at Boston University and the Boston University Alumni Association host the Discoveries lecture and learning series. The series gives alumni a deeper look into issues affecting the world and their lives. For more information, visit

Back to Homepage Features Archive