May 20, 2013 4:18 pm

GWU targets cyber security

Since his arrival as dean in 2010, Doug Guthrie has tried to make the most of his business school’s Washington location. By focusing on subjects such as healthcare, which involves collaboration fro m business and government, he hopes to set the George Washington University School of Business apart from its peers.

“We need to give people a reason to come to DC for business school,” Prof Guthrie says. “A lot of what we do hinges on our ability to leverage our connections in Washington.”

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A relatively new programme at the school that does just this covers cyber security. The first students enrolled on a specialised cyber security track of the World Executive MBA – a degree for senior working managers – in September 2012. Over the 16 months of the programme, the 10-strong cohort engage with many dimensions of cyber security, including attack threats, prevention strategies and US and international policy responses.

The student cohort comprises assorted professional backgrounds, including business, government, and the legal and technical sectors, says Frank Cilluffo, director of the GWU Homeland Security Policy Institute. “We are trying to bring various constituencies together to look at issues that cannot be looked at alone.”

In January students embarked on the first of four 10-day residencies in Tallinn, Estonia, home of Nato’s Cooperative Cyberdefence Centre of Excellence. According to Mr Cilluffo, the Baltic state has become one of the world’s leading e-governments since a co-ordinated series of cyber attacks on the country’s private and public institutions in 2007. Estonia was essentially the first victim of major state-sponsored cyber warfare, Mr Cilluffo says.

Students met senior policy officials including the Estonian president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, to discuss the government’s security measures. They subsequently prepared research papers evaluating how Nato could enhance its cyber security mission. One group later presented its recommendations to Marina Kaljurand, Estonian ambassador to the US, and Scott Charney, corporate vice-president at Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Group.

In the second trip, students will work with a Turkish bank that wants to improve its cyber security. In essence, Mr Cilluffo says, it will be a consultancy-style project focusing on the security implications of mobile banking.

Prof Guthrie feels the increased focus on issues at the intersection of business and public policy plays to his school’s strengths. “Not many business schools are framing the issues in the way that we do,” he adds.

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