Honors Colloquium - University of Rhode Island
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Scenes from the College of Arts and Sciences

Fall 2011 Honors Colloquium

Richard Clarke (November 29)


Richard A. Clarke is an internationally-recognized expert on security, including homeland security, national security, cyber security and counterterrorism. He is currently an on-air consultant for ABC News and teaches at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. In a special report by Foreign Policy Magazine, Clarke was chosen as one of The Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2010.

Clarke worked as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence under President Ronald Reagan. He was appointed as the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs under President George H.W. Bush. He was the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-Terrorism for President Bill Clinton, and the Special Advisor to the President on Cyber-Security under President George W. Bush.




Although a marvelous tool for many applications, there are also substantial dangers associated with the internet. We are well aware of phishing expeditions designed to separate us from our money. We are also aware of viruses which can threaten the integrity of the data on our systems. More recently the threat to our privacy has become apparent. Many employers now routinely check social networking sites to identify applicants who may not be as desirable as their resumes suggest. And we have all heard about the recent passage of laws designed to prevent cyberbullying. Few of us however are aware of the very substantial threat to our national security posed by our dependence on the internet. In early September of this year (2011), many in the Northeast suffered from an extended power outage resulting from hurricane/tropical storm Irene. There was a lot of moaning and groaning about the outage, after all, it lasted for almost a week in some cases. Imagine an outage of a month or more covering a large portion of the eastern half of the country - from Boston to Atlanta for example. No gas, no telephone, no internet, no frozen foods, no restaurants, no trains, no mail, no football… you get the picture. Actually, it is pretty difficult to imagine and yet this is one of the scenarios that Dick Clarke, adviser to three presidents on issues related to national security, paints in his book Cyber War. He argues that not only is this scenario possible, but it is well within the reach of the cyberwarfare capabilities of a number of other nations. And, disabling our power grid is only one devastating attack that an adversary could mount against us. In this presentation, Clarke will discuss our current vulnerabilities and how they are likely to evolve in the future.


URI Presentation - Video
The video for the URI presentation on 11/29/11

Official Website
Richard Clarke's official website

An interview with Richard Clarke about cyberwarfare

NPR interview
An NPR interview with Richard Clarke on the growing cyberwarfare threat

ABC News Article
An ABC News Article about Richard Clarke's book: Cyber War