Distance Education (Online) Course

A Course for Mid-Career Professionals Addressing the Critical Balance Between Cyberspace and National Security.

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Next Session starts Summer, 2014.

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 online course Cyber Security Law and Policy, starting September 23, 2013.

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.

This online course provides an invaluable benefit to mid-career professionals in both the public and private sectors. It engages students in a comprehensive and interdisciplinary study of the scope and gravity of cyberspace threats to US interests, and it provides them the knowledge and tools they need to balance upholding civil liberties while effectively addressing Internet security challenges.

The six-week course provides a balance of asynchronous sessions that can be done anytime and scheduled live sessions. Weekly discussions are conducted in real time, providing students an opportunity to offer their thoughts and reflections to Prof. Snyder and fellow students. No computer science expertise is required.


The following testimonials are from students in Prof. William Snyder's on-campus version of this course, offered to graduate students at Syracuse University:

"Prof. Snyder's course on Cyber Security Law and Policy is a wonderful introduction to the myriad of laws and policies that influence or are influenced by cyberspace operations. Students from an array of disciplines, including those with an engineering knowledge of computers and cyber security, will benefit from learning about the various laws and policies and their respective scopes of controlling authority. This knowledge will help them understand the situations when privacy as an expectation, for example, is a legal issue or not. Prof Snyder's voluminous knowledge and clear presentation skills make this course truly interesting and enjoyable." - Prof. Shiu-Kai Chin, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Director, Center for Information and Systems Assurance and Trust (CISAT), Syracuse University.

"I recommend the class for anyone interested in pursuing a career in a security related field. Cyberspace, as the newest domain of warfare, presents novel challenges and issues never before seen by this world. The class provides an excellent foundation for understanding the ubiquitous cyber realm and affords any student of the course a unique interdisciplinary take on the many challenges facing those charged with protecting the nation's cyber security." - Ryan Cole, Juris Doctor '11, Syracuse University.

"I found Professor Snyder's Cyber Security and the Law course to be a fascinating seminar that taught me the complexities of applying the law to new technologies. The course structure was flexible enough to allow for discussion on current events and for students to guide the class towards our interests. This course will give students a strong foundation of knowledge on issues surrounding technology, public policy, and the law." - Akshay G., MPA '11, Syracuse University.

How INSCT Online Courses Are Different

Even if you have taken an online course before, your experience probably was very different than it would be in this course. The norm for graduate level or for continuing education courses is a totally asynchronous format so that you can study at anytime of the day or night. That flexibility is of enormous use to busy professionals, which is why the majority of the hours in our courses are presented that way.

The cost of that flexibility, however, is that students study alone, and their interaction with each other and with professors usually is limited to bulletin board posts, e-mails, and the occasional telephone call. That self-study method might be fine for some subjects, but we believe that it alone is not good enough for topics covered by courses such as Cyber Security Law and Policy. Primarily passive absorption of information is not a favored method in law schools nor is it well suited for public policy courses. Facts are, perhaps, well learned by reading them and by subsequent explanation by a professor in a lecture format.  Practicing law and developing policy both require more than a prior accumulation of facts, however.  Lawyers typically must learn to argue both sides of an issue, because our adversarial judicial and political systems believe that only the clash of ideas reveals the truth.  Policy professionals even more than lawyers operate in a realm where there is no one “right” answer.  In these subject areas, there simply is no substitute for real-time, face-to-face discussion and argument.

We, therefore, include synchronous seminars that provide real-time interaction between the students and professors, replicating the manner and level of traditional classroom interaction as closely as the technology enables.Large image of live seminar interface  Using web browser-based software, each week of the course includes a 90-minute session during which the students both see and hear the professor in real time and all participants can hear each other.  In addition, simultaneously, all participants see and hear any other content the professor chooses to display – such as PowerPoint slides, a whiteboard to write on, pages of the reading assignment, or even news videos – as well as comment or ask questions via their microphones or keyboards.  In short, during these sessions we vary the traditional classroom only by distance and not by time, content, or methods of discussion.

Course Topics in Detail

This course is designed to exist at the cutting edge of the dynamic development of networked computers and their potential to impact national security.

Module 0: Orientation

  • Starting on Monday, September 23, 2013, the course website including reading assignments, the first asynchronous lecture, discussion board, and library will be available. On Thursday, September 26, 2013, starting at 6:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time, the live virtual classroom will be active. This is an opportunity for all participants to work with live technical support people to test equipment and to ensure smooth operation for the first actual live seminar the next week. This is also an opportunity to meet online the instructor, support staff and other students.

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

Cyberspace is decentralized, complex, adaptive and resilient. What does all that mean, and what else is cyberspace? Is it so large and so complex that it constitutes a new challenge for humanity: how to affect something whose individual parts are all man-made but whose whole constitutes more than the sum of its parts and is beyond the control of any single person or organization?

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

If not the borderless realm for which its early pioneers once hoped, the Internet is at least transnational. So, if it must be governed, shouldn’t it be governed by international law? In July, 2011, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano called for an “international legal framework” to “govern[ ] cyber.” What international law does or could prevent cyber crime, limit cyber arms and warfare, and protect the free flow of ideas and of commerce? Can treaties do that?

Module 3: Speech, Privacy and Anonymity in Cyberspace

Is there a trade-off between privacy and security? Is the relevant Constitutional standard to be found in the 1st Amendment or in the Commerce Clause? Under the theory that radio signals travel in a limited spectrum and are commercial activity, the FCC enforces all kinds of content restrictions (including transmitter identification) that would never be permitted for printed material. Yet, radio waves can be used for speech, and books can be sold in commerce. If 1st Amendment analysis controls, then the anonymity of speech is protected because of the chilling effect identification would have on content. If the Commerce Clause is the relevant analysis, then the presence of protected speech does not limit regulation any more than putting a political bumper sticker on a tractor-trailer truck exempts it from displaying a registration plate or a safety inspection sticker. In the physical world, those principles are clear. The Supreme Court has not really reached such issues pertaining to cyber. The Circuit Courts have held both that the Internet is an instrumentality of commerce, which would permit requiring authors of websites to identify themselves, and that the content of packets are protected speech, which would suggest that anonymity is protected.

Module 4: Authentication and Identity Management

A new military protocol could replace TCP/IP, allowing for authentication of the sender of every packet, as well as prioritization and encryption. A secure network with the protocol, applications and operating system incompatible to the public Internet could be established for the use of government and critical infrastructure.

Module 5: Current U.S. Cyber Strategies and Proposals

“[T]here has been no clear or single articulation of a cybersecurity policy. Nor has there been an agreed-upon framework for leadership and implementation of any policy that may be developed…. In sum, if one thing is clear about the state of cybersecurity in the United States, it is that there is not now an agreed-upon way forward.” In 2011, the U.S. Government has released three strategy documents that could be subparts of an over-all national cyber security strategy. What are their assumptions and goals? Are they consistent? What gaps do they leave? What agency of government should take the lead in cyber security?

Module 6: What Strategy, Regulations, and Statutes Would We Write?

Apply what we have learned, and let’s make some recommendations.

Course Requirements

Each week students are expected to complete a reading assignment, view an online lecture, send specific questions for discussion to the professor, and participate in a live, synchronous seminar discussion with the professor and other students in the class. At the end of the course, a brief writing assignment is required to receive a passing grade and to earn any applicable credits. For detailed requirements, please see our Procedures & Requirements page.


Online Education Experience:

INSCT’s online education program aims to provide an exceptional educational experience for mid-career professionals, mirroring the high standard students receive in on-campus courses at Syracuse University. The flexible course format ensures participants can easily incorporate it into their busy schedules. Online education is an increasingly attractive option for mid-career professionals striving to stay relevant in their field, advance their expertise, and/or incorporate new knowledge or expertise into their existing job, without losing valuable work time to do so.

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.

Three Continuing Education Units (CEU's) from the University College of Syracuse University. Participants who elect CEU's will have an official CEU transcript with Syracuse University. A transcript is available at no charge upon request by the participant. Click for more about CEU's.

Certificate of Completion through the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT).

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




The Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism (INSCT) -- a joint venture of Syracuse University's College of Law and of its Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs -- provides interdisciplinary research, graduate-level education, and public service on law and policy challenges related to national and international security.


Technical Requirements

You need a computer with a broad-band Internet connection and equipped with either a microphone and speakers or with a headset. For detailed technical requirements as well as tests to see if your computer is adequate, please consult our Technical Requirements webpage. In addition, full-time technical support is available, here.

About the Instructor

Professor Snyder is a former career federal prosecutor who also served in political appointments within the United States Department of Justice. He completed the Department's training course in computer crimes in 1998, and he taught Computer Crimes at Syracuse University in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He has taught Cyber Security Law and Policy repeatedly since 2010. A complete biography can be found on our About The Professor webpage.