Cyber Security Law & Policy

Syracuse University and its Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism offer this course in two formats. To enter the site for each, click a button.

Cyber Security Law and Policy

Examining one of the least understood yet most critical national security threats of our time, Syracuse University's Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) is offering the course Cyber Security Law and Policy in two formats -- a 14-week on-campus course during the fall term of 2016 for Syracuse University graduate students and a ten-module online version starting in the Fall of 2016 for mid-career professionals. Designed by one the country's most innovative and interdisciplinary national security and counterterrorism programs and taught by Prof. William Snyder—an expert in the prosecution of terrorists, counterterrorism and the law, and computer crimes — Cyber Security Law and Policy analyzes the dynamically developing threat national security faces from globally networked computers.

Why this course? Because we stand at the crossroads.

A 2009 report of the American Bar Association concluded:

What will be the enduring image of this cyber era?  Will it be one of a darkened city, whose electric grid has failed?  Will it be a picture from Second Life or the image of a computing cloud?  Or will it be a picture of cybercriminals led off to jail for their attempted offenses, having been caught in the act?  Only time will tell.  We are, however, convinced that we stand at the crossroads – the decisions we make today will help determine the defining images of tomorrow.

The 2009 White House Cyberspace Policy Review states:

The United States needs to conduct a national dialogue on cybersecurity to develop more public awareness of the threat and risks and to ensure an integrated approach toward the Nation’s need for security and the national commitment to privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and law.

Some cyber law already exists, such as the federal anti-hacking statute, 18 U.S.C. §1030, and the Economic Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. §§1831-39.  Other laws of long standing present issues of applicability or adaptability to the cyber realm.  Examples of this sort include the law of armed conflict.  Many proposals remain in Congressional committees, such as bills that would mandate security measures for all entities receiving federal money, establish a federal certification for technicians serving computer networks of entities receiving federal money, and provide the President with authority to “pull the plug” on national Internet connectivity in times of emergency.

These courses are premised on the belief that much policy and law to implement it will be made in the next few years to institute a national policy to protect U.S. interests in cyberspace.  If an interdisciplinary approach is not used to develop this law, then either security will not be obtained or the cost to civil rights will be very high.


These are law and policy courses, not computer science courses. No computer science expertise is necessary as a prerequisite for enrollment, although you will learn some basic technical concepts during the first week. These are not "Internet Law" or "Cyber Law" courses, but rather studies of the security implications of cyber space. Criminal law or intellectual property law are just two of the policy tools available to protect the security of persons and nations in cyberspace. Here are listings of the topics in each course, or you can click through for more detailed explanations.

Weekly topics for the online course:

1: Introduction, Terminology, and the Nature of Cyberspace and Threats

2: Roles of International Law, the State, and the Private Sector in Cyberspace

3: Authentication and Identity Management

4:Speech, Privacy and Anonymity in Cyberspace

5: Current and Proposed U.S. Cyber Strategies

6: Law and Policy Proposals by Course Participants

For more detailed explanations of each topic, click here to go to explanations on the home page of the online course.

Weekly topics for the on-campus course:

Introduction and Terminology

The Role of International Law In Securing and Regulating Cyber Space

Case study: What Actions in Cyberspace are “armed attacks”?

The Role of Sovereign Government In Securing Cyber Space

Case study: U.S. Attempts to use criminal law to affect conduct in cyberspace

Case study: U.S. Attempts to use civil law to affect conduct in cyberspace

Use of the Military to Secure Cyberspace

The Role of the Private Sector in Securing Cyberspace

Authentication: The Key to Security, Trade, And Governance In Cyberspace?

Speech, Privacy and Anonymity In Cyberspace

Is Cyber Really A Domain?

Current U.S. Cyber Strategies and Current Legislative Proposals

What Strategy, Regulations, And Statutes Would We Write?

For detailed explanations of topics, go to the top or bottom of this page and click the "online" button or the "on campus" to enter the website for the corresponding version of this course.


The online course is designed for everyone in the world (except degree-seeking candidates of Syracuse University) who has at least a bachelor's degree and a keen interest in the security implications -- particularly national security implications -- of cyber space. This online course is not self-taught or self-paced. It has an unusual format which provides extensive opportunities to interact with and to learn from the professor who leads the course as well as fellow students. We hope you will take a moment to read about this format by following this link.

Online course features:

Six week course (plus orientation week).

Multiple formats for interactive learning.

Weekly learning includes pre-assigned readings, instructor's lecture (available for viewing at participants' convenience), and a live class discussion.

Short writing requirement in optional formats.

Three Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from Syracuse University.

Certificate of Completion through the Institute for National Security and Counter-Terrorism (INSCT).

Possible Continuing Legal Education Credits (pending approval & depending upon jurisdiction.

Possible International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, Inc., (ISC)²® for Certified Information Systems Security Professionals.

One-on-one interaction with the professor.

Online discussion board to share ideas and network with fellow participants.

Live discussion as well as asynchronous instruction.

Fully supported online learning environment by professional tech staff.

Dynamic course content incorporating emerging legal and policy debates.

Free access to extensive resource database

All of the details about the courses such as format, requirements, eligibility, accreditation, costs, meeting dates and times and much more can be found by clicking on the "Online Course" or "On Campus Course" buttons:

The on-campus course is intended for matriculated graduate students of Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA. This course is a three-credit, one semester course conducted through a series of seminars during the fall term of 2012.   The subject matter is interdisciplinary.  No computer science background or expertise is necessary.  The final grade will be a paper that meets the criteria for the College of Law writing requirement, the National Security and Counterterrorism Certificate, and the Graduate Certificate of Advanced Study in Security Studies.

Due to the dynamic nature of our subject matter, no textbook exists that is sufficiently current to meet our requirements. Thus, readings for each week will be from a variety of sources and largely will be distributed electronically through a website and a blog. Some published texts are required, as listed below.

  • Brenner, America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare, ISBN 978-1594203138 Penguin Press, (2011).
  • Goldsmith, Who Controls the Internet? Illusions of a Borderless World, ISBN 9780195340648 Oxford University Press (2008).
  • Goodman and Lynn, Toward A Safer And More Secure Cyberspace, ISBN 978-0-309-10395-4 (pbk.) -- ISBN 978-0-309-66741-8 (pdf) from National Academies Press (2007) (available as a free download here; this book also is available in bound format).
  • Libicki, CyberDeterrence and CyberWar, ISBN 9780833047342 Rand Publishing (2009) (available as a free download here; this book also is available in bound format).
  • Owens, Technology, Policy, Law and Ethics Regarding US Acquisition and Use of Cyberattack, ISBN 9780309138505 National Academies Press (2009) (available as a free download here; this book also is available in bound format).
  • Baker, Skating on Stilts, ISBN 978-0-8179-1154-6 (cloth) or ISBN-13: 978-0-8179-1156-0 (e-book), Hoover Institution Press (2010) (available as a free download here; also available in Kindle format and traditional bound volume).
  •  Zittrain, The Future of the Internet -- And How to Stop It, ISBN 9780300151244 Yale University Press (2009) (available as a free download here; also available in Kindle format and traditional bound volume).


INSCT would consider proposals for a customized version of the online course or for a hybrid of the online course with presentations at your facility for companies who want to provide their senior management teams with training in cyber security law and policy, as well as from military, law enforcement, and other government agencies. Prices are negotiable, but available time slots are limited. INSCT is a non-profit organization. For additional information about requests for customized courses, please contact Assistant Director Keli Perrin directly by email or (315) 443-2284.


For more information, click on the appropriate button:

Online CourseOn Campus Course

These courses are offered by Syracuse University and its Institute for National Security and Counter-Terrorism.