Hewlett Grant to Fund Work on Cyber Security at Yale

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation recently awarded a grant to support a research collaboration between Yale Law School and Yale University’s Department of Computer Science that will investigate the legal and technical aspects of cyber conflict.

The cross-disciplinary project, which is funded by a $406,000 grant over two years, will look at this issue from both domestic and international angles to help develop a network of experts in this emerging field. 

The project will promote research and encourage new ways of thinking about the issues raised when cyber attacks originate from state or quasi-state actors.

The faculty leads on the project are Professors Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro, both from Yale Law School, and Professor Joan Feigenbaum, chair of the Computer Science Department at Yale.

Oona Hathaway ’97 is the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and Founder and Director of the new Center for Global Legal Challenges. Scott Shapiro ’90 is the Charles F. Southmayd Professor of Law, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Center for Law and Philosophy at Yale Law School. Joan Feigenbaum is Department Chair and Grace Murray Hopper Professor of Computer Science at Yale.

Working together, the faculty directors have two central goals. The first is to pursue cross-disciplinary education and research in cyber conflict and to train emerging leaders in this field. This will require developing a rigorous intellectual framework in which to explore cyber conflict and a common vocabulary that will allow comprehensive analysis of threats and possible solutions. Second, the project will seek to deploy its framework and results to inform the policy arena by connecting experts from academia and the federal agencies that are developing both legal and technological responses to cyber conflict.

“By bringing together Yale faculty who are already leaders in their individual fields of law and computer science to explore cyber conflict, we aim to begin to remove the fragmentation and uncertainty that currently thwart effective policy making,” said Professor Hathaway. “We hope, in the process, to open up new areas of inquiry and collaboration that will complement work on cyber security that is already underway.  At the same time, we will help to develop a new generation of experts in the field of cyber conflict, who will be armed with the legal and technical knowledge needed to generate effective solutions to these ever-evolving questions.”

The grant will support a Cyber Fellow at the Yale Law School Center for Global Legal Challenges. The fellow will be a co-investigator in the innovative cyber-conflict project, spending two years at Yale Law School working on this initiative, pursuing his or her own scholarly agenda while participating in the Law School’s intellectual life. 

This novel, cross-disciplinary research project is part of the Cyber Initiative at the Hewlett Foundation, which seeks to address a broad range of topics that impact the security, stability and resilience of a free and open Internet and connected devices. This includes not only traditional notions of computer and information security, but related policy issues such as Internet governance, net neutrality, encryption, surveillance and privacy.