#SPACyber News & Events

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Phone: (202) 885-2940 Graduate programs: spagrad@american.edu Undergraduate programs: aupublicaffairs@american.edu

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#SPACyber is a practioner informed, research driven hub of cyber curriculum, thought leadership, and engagement. Focused on the national and homeland security implications of the internet our faculty, students, and partners collaborate around the common goal of understanding and ultimately informing U.S. cyber policy and the organizational structures and leaders who drive it.

Looking for ways to get involved? Whether you are a current student, researcher, practitioner partner or prospective student we want to hear from you and welcome your contributions to our growing community. Sign up to receive updates and let us know more about yourself and your interests--we look forward to hearing from you!

Cyber team

SPA Team to Compete at Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge

Winner of last year’s Atlantic Council Cyber 9/12 Strategy Challenge, SPA returns this year to compete on March 4-5 with a new team of competitors: Libby Wahlemayer (BS Data Sciences for Political Science), Evan Gertler (MS Terrorism & Homeland Security Policy), Stephanie Verbockel (MS Counter-Terrorism & Homeland Security), Chris Rodriguez (BA Political Science), Elizabeth Marge (MS Data Science), and Arsene Frederic Jr. (MPA). Good luck team SPA!

Defense One Radio

Insurrection, social media, and the future of tech policy

Hear Divya Ramjee, Ph.D. candidate and AU School of Public Affairs adjunct professor share her thoughts on Defense One Radio’s recent podcast Ep. 86: Insurrection, social media, and the future of tech policy.

Regulate Social Media cOmpanies

Regulate Social Media Companies

In their recent article in Defense One, Divya Ramjee, Ph.D. candidate and American University School of Public Affairs adjunct professor in the Department of Justice, Law & Criminology, and co-author Elsa Kania, share their views on social media companies and how their algorithms and data collection policies stoke extremism and undermine national security.

After the Apocalypse: Cybersecurity

After the Apocalypse: Cybersecurity

As part of the After the Apocalypse series — a series of policy recommendations for the incoming Biden administration - Sasha O'Connell, SPA Executive in Residence & Director of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Master's Program was asked by Inkstick Media to weigh in on how the Biden administration can address cyber security issues.

Past Events

National Security Cyber Careers in the Federal Government

March 17 | 12– 1:30pm | Online

The School of Public Affairs at American University hosted a virtual panel and Q&A session titled “National Security Cyber Careers in the Federal Government,” co-sponsored by the Pi Delta Nu chapter of the Alpha Phi Sigma Criminal Justice Honor Society and the AU SPA Tech Policy Association.

The event featured panelists who are cybersecurity experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, United States Secret Service, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who discussed the day-to-day work of cyber professionals at their agencies, and offered their thoughts and perspectives on the unique challenges faced when addressing new cyber threats. Panelists also provided information on career paths, recruiting efforts of their agencies, eligibility requirements, and preparation recommendations.

Sasha O'Connell and Kiran Raj

Analyzing the New National Cyber Director Role

Online Talk & Interview

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 | 10:00am - 11:00am (ET)

The Cyber Project at Harvard’s Kennedy School welcomes Sasha O’Connell (SPA Executive in Residence & Director of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Policy Master's Program), Kiran Raj (SPA adjunct professor), and Tatyana Bolton (former senior policy director for the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission) in conversation with Lauren Zabierek to analyze the National Cyber Director role.

Sasha and Kiran recently published their report, The United States Needs a Cyber Director: A Roadmap for Making It Happen in 2021. You can access the Cyber Solarium Commission report here.

Life on an FBI Cyber Squad

Life on an FBI Cyber Squad

October 21 | 12-1PM ET | Online

American University's School of Public Affairs and the FBI came together to host a first-of-its-kind event, which explored a day in the life of an FBI cyber squad.

The event presented the different technical career paths at the FBI from the people who live it every day. How do a special agent, staff operations specialist, and computer scientist work together to solve a case? What skills and experiences led them down their career paths? What insights could these mid-career professionals offer future applicants?

Cybersecurity in the Remote Workforce

October 22 | 12-1PM ET | Online

Guidehouse and American University were thrilled to host a virtual panel and Q&A session titled "Cybersecurity in the Remote Workforce” as part of their National Cybersecurity Awareness Month programming.

#SPACyber Book Talk Series: Cindy Otis


In "True or False," former CIA analyst Cindy Otis took readers through the history and impact of misinformation over the centuries, sharing stories from the past and insights that readers today can gain from them. Then, she shared lessons learned in over a decade working for the CIA, including actionable tips on how to spot fake news, how to make sense of the information we receive each day, and, perhaps most importantly, how to understand and see past our own information biases, so that we can think critically about important issues and put events happening around us into context.

Curriculum Highlights

JLC-695-002 Applied Cybersecurity in Nonprofit Organizations Practicum

Implementation of information and cybersecurity programs for many organizations are challenging and, often done haphazardly, if at all. Nonprofit organizations face many similar as well as different challenges when it comes to information and cybersecurity. This course will provide students with hands-on experience in the development, delivery, and results from the analysis of cyber and information security assessment process for two local nonprofit organizations. Students will explore how NIST CSF maps to other well-known assessment frameworks including NIST SP800-53, NIST SP800- 171, COBIT 5, and ISO 27000. Students will develop the assessment tool and other research through the lens of the nonprofit environment. Students will complete a controlled assessment of a local nonprofit which will help them develop skills in assessing, through the lens of cyber and information security, a business environment. Students will utilize these skills in bridging the gap between technical jargon and non-technical audiences by preparing and presenting their assessment findings to the executive leadership of the assessed nonprofit. Students will gain a practical ability to perform an information/cybersecurity risk assessment along with the process of developing and delivering the assessment as a part of the students' learning.

Instructor: Dr. Kelley Misata, Founder & CEO, Sightline Security and Executive Director, The Open Information Security Foundation

JLC-695-001 Cyber Incident Response Practicum

This practicum will focus on developing students' knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of various key stakeholders in responding to a serious cybersecurity incident. Students will learn how the U.S. government approaches cyber incidents from a legal, policy, and operational perspective, and how industry, the media, and partner nations must balance the challenges around a quickly unfolding cyber incident with incomplete information. Students will conduct a hands-on simulation of a National Security Council meeting, and role-play media companies, industry groups, and other affected organizations utilizing the policy analysis skills developed throughout this course. As part of the exercise, students will provide policy options to cabinet officials and advocate for particular actions. Following the simulation, students will have the opportunity to brief senior U.S. government officials in key cybersecurity agencies, as well as other cybersecurity experts. Students will gain a practical ability to prepare an incident response plan and develop concise, actionable written and oral policy options.

Iranga Kahangama, Director for Cyber Policy, National Security Council
Jonah Hill, Cyber Security Strategist, U.S. Secret Service

"Cyber policy is a dynamic and quickly-evolving area of U.S. national security policymaking. We're excited to share our experiences with the AU community and to offer a practicum that allows students to understand the challenges and options for responding to a cyber incident at a national level." - Jonah Hill, Instructor

"I’m looking forward to helping develop a strong talent pipeline for public service in the cyber policy sphere” - Iranga Kahangama, Instructor

Welcoming Diana Burley

Diana Burley is American University’s new vice provost for research and professor of Public Administration and Policy at SPA. Her research takes a holistic perspective on cybersecurity, including the strategic development of the cybersecurity workforce, the relationship between technical and human factors, and methods for strengthening cybersecurity posture across a range of institutions. Learn more.

Report Cover

Announcement ·

New American University Report Underscores a Critical Need for a National Cybersecurity Director

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Atlantic Council, CYBER 2/12 Strategy Challenge. Washington DC March 20-21, 2020.

Achievements ·

SPA Team Wins Cybersecurity Competition

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MS Terrorism & Homeland Security Policy

MS Terrorism & Homeland Security Policy

From tactical approaches to strategic solutions.

Learn more

Student Spotlight

Divya Ramjee

Divya Ramjee
PhD Justice, Law & Criminology

"As a doctoral candidate researching cybercrime and intellectual property crime, it is fantastic to be able to be a part of SPACyber. It's truly a unique program in the DMV region that is focused on not only cybersecurity, but also cyber policy and development. It's great to be a part of the team and help teach the next cohorts of cybersecurity professionals and policymakers."