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Crow calls for 'new abolitionists' at Council of Religious Advisors meeting

August 23, 2017

Recent events leave ASU president resolute in matters of equality and diversity

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. To read more top stories from 2017, click here.

ASU President Michael M. Crow called for “a time for new abolitionists” in remarks to a group of Valley faith leaders on Wednesday.

Crow said there are many lessons that can be taken from the tragedy earlier this month in Charlottesville, Va., and other recent displays of overt hate and racism — mostly that positive action can change history.

“They (abolitionists) were a powerful force and led to change. It might be time for new abolitionists,” Crow said to a group of about 65 people.

“We’re going to abolish not slavery — we’re going to abolish all notions of not equal. It’s going to be gone,” he said. “And when it’s gone I can guarantee you we will have a better chance at a greater and more wholesome society.”

Abolitionists were individuals who advocated forcefully for an end to slavery prior to the Civil War. Many were religious leaders. They believed slavery was a national sin and that it was the moral obligation of every citizen to eradicate it from the American landscape.

Crow’s conversation with faith-based organizations and campus ministries on issues surrounding unity, faith, equality and racism was at the invitation of ASU’s Council of Religious Advisors.

He typically speaks to CORA at the start of each school year to thank them for their work and share insights into efforts for the year and how they factor as a contributing group to the campus community in meaningful ways.

“It’s President Crow’s way of showing support to the council because he is a big believer in religious freedom and unity,” said Council President Tracy Rapp. “Even though we might not all have the same beliefs, we are all here to support one another in friendship.”


CORA President Tracy Rapp addresses the group at its first meeting of the year, at the Tempe LDS Institute. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

She added that the council’s mission is to promote goodwill, cooperation and dialogue among all of the religious and faith-based groups represented in the campus community, without any compromise of the beliefs of the particular faiths represented.

Rapp said their mission is also to “dispel myths about religion in order to gain a better understanding of one another’s beliefs." 

Approximately 30 faith-based organizations involved with the council engage in a number of volunteer activities such as providing food, clothing and shelter to the homeless, working with cities and communities on emergency-preparedness efforts, working to bring families out of crisis, and providing guidance and support to students.

They also assist with New Student Welcome activities and orientations, as well as hold spiritual awareness fairs on campus to educate the community about religious opportunities and faiths. In the past they’ve offered activities such as comedy shows, movie nights and lunches on the lawn.

Crow said the uptick in recent rallies and marches led by white nationalists, neo-Nazis and fascists and the intensity of their hate has left him profoundly disturbed but also resolute.

“Fascism was defeated at the cost of millions of lives. Millions of lives,” Crow said. “There’s no room for fascists or Nazi sympathizers, period. And as to racism, which often goes along with fascism, no room for that either.”

Crow said ASU is a model of diversity for others to emulate, citing an international student body of about 13,000 people from approximately 130 different countries. He called the university a “pocket of the future.”

“We are the future. Working together. Studying together. Living together. Creating things together. Making things happen,” Crow said.

“The world we have here is the world we want.”

Top photo: President Michael Crow addresses a variety of Valley faith-based organizations and campus ministries on issues surrounding unity, faith, equality and racism was at the invitation of ASU's Council of Religious Advisors. He called for a recommitment to words of the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights ..." Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Reporter , ASU News


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Leaders at ASU conference debate cybersecurity challenges

August 23, 2017

Questions include what is critical infrastructure, who should defend what, and how to best train workforce to fight it

Cybersecurity is a slippery thing, hard to define, train for and fight against.

And it may be the biggest threat of the 21st century.

Is a cyberattack on a movie studio an attack on the United States? What is the Department of Defense responsible for in cyberspace? How do you train a sorely needed workforce when the diploma they earned a month ago is already outdated? How do you deal with a threat that outpaces legislation? What should people in government know?

Six members of Congress, one senator and representatives from academia, business and the military gathered at the first Arizona State University Congressional Conference on Cybersecurity on Wednesday to frame questions and paths forward.

“An unbelievable economic and military threat,” ASU President Michael Crow called cyberthreats. “I don’t think any of us, including those in this room, understand how important it is.”

Invisible, with minimal resources and maximum speed, cyberattacks are a “bloodless way to disrupt democracy,” Crow said. Because the internet was designed with none of this in mind, cyberattacks are “not easily solvable.”

The entire information domain has become a battle space. Hackers have attacked everything from NASA to businesses to a dam north of New York City.

Cyberattacks are a blend of conventional and unconventional power projection, said U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

There is no plan from the White House on cybersecurity, McCain said.

“I can assure you our enemies are not the junior varsity,” he said. “If they’re able to change the results of a presidential election, then they’re able to change democracy. ... We must make sure our adversaries pay a price for these attacks.”

The current system is overgrown with bureaucracy and poorly defined authority, McCain said. Compounding the problem is a lack of personnel and trained workforce.

“There is no widespread definition of what people in government need to know,” said retired Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle, former deputy director of U.S. Cyber Command. “The biggest vulnerability in any network is us.”

Schmidle described a Marine field exercise in the desert using a wireless internet network. He had cyber experts hack it. The biggest problem with it wasn’t being shut down; it was sowing doubt about enemy and friendly positions. Officers simply didn’t know where red forces were.

ASU Cybersecurity Congressional Conference

Panelists discussing what is cybersecurity listen to retired Lt. Gen. Robert Schmidle at the first annual ASU Congressional Cybersecurity Conference on ASU's Polytechnic campus Wednesday. Panelists incuded (from right) Matt Salmon, vice president of ASU's Office of Government and Community; Nadya Bliss, director of ASU's Global Security Initiative; Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for the Global Security Initiative; and Jai Galliott of the University of New South Wales in Australia. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Every major weapons system has to undergo a cyber resiliency assessment for the Department of Defense, said retired Brig. Gen. Linda Medler, cyber director at Raytheon Missile Systems and former director of Capability and Resource Integration at U.S. Cyber Command.

She described cybersecurity as the nexus of information systems and hardware. None of the panelists could agree on a definition of the term. The word “attack” suffers from the same handicap.

“Is an attack on Sony an attack on the country?” Medler asked. “In my mind the Department of Defense has a responsibility to protect the nation in air, land, sea and space. That should extend to cyberspace.”

Should corporations have offensive capabilities? “I don’t know,” Medler said. (McCain said yes, they should.)

Policy and technology are speaking different languages, and they need to come together. There is a lack of communication between parties that need to communicate most.

“In order to make good policy, you have to understand the technology,” Schmidle said. “It’s not enough to rely on the one article you read in Wired magazine on the plane.”

Schmidle described meetings at the Pentagon where no one understood the geek speak in one meeting nor the policy wonks participating in the discussion from 64,000 feet, “with no idea how their return key works,” he said.

Intelligence and the military have different authorizations.

“I would suggest the line go away altogether,” Schmidle said.

Congress should update what is considered critical infrastructure, and then who should defend what should be delineated.

“I would suggest Sony is not going to make the list,” Schmidle said.

ASU Cybersecurity Congressional Conference

Retired Brig. Gen. Linda Medler speaks as one of the panelists on "Scoping the Problem — What is 'Cybersecurity?" at the ASU Congressional Cybersecurity Conference. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Holding a hairdresser’s data for ransom is different than monkeying with a nuclear power plant.

“What is an attack?” asked Jamie Winterton, director of strategy for ASU's Global Security Initiative. “Understanding a little bit more of what we’re talking about would help.”

There are currently more than 200,000 vacant cybersecurity jobs, with an estimate of up to 1 million vacancies in the field by 2020.

“Skills are having a hard time keeping up with our requirements,” said Maj. Gen. John Baker of Network Command at Fort Huachuca. Baker commands 15,000 people around the globe working in cyberdefense.

“I’m not looking for the person who is just better,” he said. “I’m looking for the person who is a hundred times better.”

There is a dire need to build skills in the current and emerging workforce.

“When we teach our students, we teach them not only the white-hat"White hat" refers to a person who hacks into a computer network in order to test or evaluate its security systems. "Black hat" refers to a person who hacks into a network with malicious or criminal intent. perspective, but the black-hat perspective,” said Raghu Santanam, a professor of information systems at ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business and a cybersecurity expert. “That’s where you learn the real warfighting skills.”

“You cannot practice defense unless you have a good understanding of offense,” said Adam Doupe, assistant professor in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering at ASU.

Business has discovered some ways of speeding up the pipeline of qualified cyberwarriors.

Brian Johnson, senior director of global security at PayPal, outlined a few ways his company is building a talent pipeline. Paypal retools and reskills its existing workforce, uses academic partnerships and teaches K-12 kids basic coding and cybersecurity fundamentals.

The company also job-trains underprivileged young people.

“Out of these we get a great group of candidates,” Johnson said. “That’s a good pipeline.”

Top photo: U.S. Sen. John McCain, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, talks about the universal threat of computer hacks and attacks at the first Arizona State University Congressional Conference on Cybersecurity on Wednesday at ASU's Polytechnic campus. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU News