Ph.D. student receives Microsoft Cyberspace Essay Award


March 2, 2015

Electrical and Computer Engineering Ph.D. student Rijnard van Tonder has won the Microsoft Cyberspace 2025 Essay Award. Cybersecurity is a policy priority for many governments, yet there is limited understanding of how policy choices made today will impact a country’s cyberspace tomorrow. The growth in cyberspace predicted in the next decade is driven and shaped by a number of external factors, many of which can be amplified or influenced by public policy choices. Societal responses to immigration challenges, educational and workforce needs, trade liberalization, as well as international cooperation to resolve cyberconflict will shape the future of cyberspace across both developed and emerging economies. Successful policies must balance enabling innovation and advancing cybersecurity.

In 2014 Microsoft sought original research on the future of cyberspace and its associated cybersecurity policy challenges from university students at any stage in their educational development. What will be the main cybersecurity issues at stake, and what decisions can policymakers make today to ensure a robust cybersecurity landscape in the future?

Specifically, research should address one or more of the following questions:

  1. What will be the priority cybersecurity issues in 2025, and why?
  2. Who are the priority stakeholders in securing cyberspace (for example, industry, governments, NGOs, and so on)? What new entrants may there be? How will their roles evolve leading up to 2025?
  3. What should be the primary objectives of these stakeholders? Where there are conflicting objectives, such as national versus international policies, how should they be reconciled?
  4. What are the priority actions that should be taken by stakeholders to improve cybersecurity by the year 2025?
  5. What impacts will ensuring or failing to ensure cybersecurity have on societies and economies in the year 2025?

Tonder is advised by David Brumley. The complete list of recipients can be found here.