Science Cafe takes on cyber surveillance conversation

Casey Ledoux

Posted on October 22, 2013 in News
By Sidney Dritz

Casey Ledoux

“You are watched by all sorts of people,” scientific systems administrator Edward Sihler of USM’s “Information and Innovation” program said when describing the subject of the discussion at the most recent Science Cafe.

The subject of electronic surveillance and cyber security, said Science Cafe organizer Jennifer Dean, who is the director of communications at USM, was chosen as the topic of discussion in part because USM is offering and hosting several events and programs on the subject, which is becoming increasingly relevant to USM and the community at large.

Sihler expanded on the timeliness. “There’s recently a lot of paranoia, not unreasonably,” Sihler said. “It’s a hot-button issue. My goal is to bring some sanity to the conversation.”

Sihler is a member of the Maine Cyber Securities Cluster, one of the various initiatives Dean referred to in describing USM’s growing interest in cyber security. The group, which is based out of USM, offers help to small businesses in boosting their security and works with a group of students who are interested in cyber security, among other projects. On Oct. 10, he recounted to the Free Press, he discussed the fact that global cyber surveillance is growing. This surveillance, he explained, does not come exclusively from various government agencies, either.

He cited Google Maps, which can allow users to see, in real time, congestion on the highway. People lose a little privacy for this service, he explained, but they do get a better view of traffic.

“The active discussion was less than ten people,” Sihler said of the discussion on Oct. 10, although, he said, others drifted in and out of the conversation.

In a statement to the Free Press, Dean elaborated, “While we had a relatively small turnout, Edward Sihler’s presentation was fascinating and the cafe participants were actively engaged.”

Sihler will also speak at the next Science Cafe on Nov. 14.