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‘Cyber Warfare: Understanding National Security in the 21st Century’ to be held Monday, April 17

KINGSTON, R.I. – April 14, 2023 – Since its advent, the internet has been hailed as a tool to connect people and nations, share knowledge, break down barriers and make our lives easier. Yet, a global internet that is free and open carries with it inherent risk. Since 2006, the bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has documented close to 1,000 cyber incidents – cyberattacks on government agencies, defense and high-tech companies, or economic crimes with losses of more than a million dollars.

The war in Ukraine is just the most recent example of conflict involving large-scale cyber operations, providing insight into what the future of cyber warfare means for national security, the economy, and protecting private sector critical infrastructure. On Monday, April 17, the University of Rhode Island will host “Cyber Warfare: Understanding National Security in the 21st Century,” part of the James R. Langevin Symposium Series to delve deeper into this issue.

“For me, as someone who studies international relations and foreign policy, I’ve always been fascinated by what is really a new frontline of international conflict. Whether we are talking about measures designed to coerce and disrupt other countries, or those meant to gather intelligence or siphon off information over time, this is new territory,” said Marc Hutchison, professor and chair of URI’s Department of Political Science. “The big, important questions around how we best protect ourselves, identify emerging threats, and determine proportional responses are critical and this symposium will tackle a lot of these issues.”  

The event is the first of two symposiums named for former U.S. Rep. James Langevin, who represented Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District in the United States Congress from 2001 to 2023. Langevin is now a visiting scholar in the URI College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Political Science and will serve as a guest speaker and expert panelist.

As an expert on national security and cybersecurity policy, Langevin helped to shape the focus of the Department of Defense, paving the way for a heightened emphasis on harnessing emerging technologies. As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Langevin served as chair of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee, later to be called the Cyber, Innovative Technologies and Information Systems Subcommittee. He also founded and co-chaired the House Cybersecurity Caucus and served on the CSIS Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th presidency as well as the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, created by Congress to develop an overarching strategy to protect the country against cyberattacks of significant consequence.

The subject matter is particularly timely as just last month the Biden-Harris Administration released its National Cybersecurity Strategy reaffirming that “cybersecurity is essential to the basic functioning of our economy, the operation of our critical infrastructure, the strength of our democracy and democratic institutions, the privacy of our data and communications, and our national defense.”   

Monday’s symposium will examine recent cyber operations during the war in Ukraine and their impacts on global diplomacy. The symposium will feature several presentations and a panel discussion with questions from the audience. It will take place in the Memorial Union Ballroom from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. A virtual viewing option is also available for those who register in advance.

Among the presenters are Valerie Cofield, chief strategy officer for the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). Cofield serves as policy and strategic advisor to CISA leadership supporting the organization’s mission to protect and strengthen the nation’s critical infrastructure against cyber threats. Prior to CISA, she served for 22 years within the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a variety of roles, including as deputy assistant director for the Cyber Capabilities Branch within its Cyber Division.

Additionally, Major General William J. Hartman, commander of the Cyber National Mission Force, part of U.S. Cyber Command, will serve as keynote speaker. Hartman assumed his present duties in August 2019. He previously served as deputy commanding general for the Army Cyber Command’s Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber (JFHQ-C), which provides cyberspace support to U.S. Central Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Northern Command.

Due to space limitations this event is open to members of the University community only. Advance registration is required.

The program is as follows:

Order of Program:

11 a.m. Opening Remarks: Hon. James R. Langevin, U.S. Congressman  

Presentation: Valerie M. Cofield, chief strategy officer, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security  

Q&A from the audience

12p.m. Break for lunch
1 p.m. Keynote Speaker: Major General William J. Hartman, commander, Cyber National Mission Force  

Cyber National Mission Force experts   

Q&A from the audience

2 p.m. Moderated panel discussion with Roya Izadi, assistant professor, URI Department of Political Science, featuring Congressman Langevin and Major General William J. Hartman  

The James R. Langevin Symposium Series is a biannual event hosted by the University of Rhode Island College of Arts and Sciences to explore the topics of national security and U.S. civics and democracy.