Washington Semester Prize Winner to Give Talk on Cyber Threats and National Security

March 26th, 2013 by David Cotrone ’13

Image by John Buckingham

The College of the Holy Cross’ Center for Interdisciplinary and Special Studies has selected John Castro ’14, a political science major with a concentration in peace and conflict studies from Lynbrook, N.Y., as the 2013 fall semester’s Maurizio Vannicelli Washington Semester Away program award recipient. Castro will present a talk titled “Cyberspace: The New Domain for Conflict” on Wednesday, April 3 at 4 p.m. in Rehm Library. 

While in the nation’s capital, Castro interned at the United States Secret Service Washington Field Office, where he supported criminal investigations and protective missions involving counterfeit and fraud. He also accompanied special agents to various protective sites, including campaign rallies for President Obama and Governor Romney, President Obama’s visit to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on September 11, 2012, and to an interview for Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner. He also collaborated on perimeter security plans for the 2013 presidential inauguration. 

“This was an incredibly exciting and rewarding experience,” Castro says. “These sites provided tremendous insight into the challenges faced by Secret Service agents as they secure a site and the dedication to the nation they display by putting their lives on the line to uphold the continuity of the United States government.”

In his talk, Castro will explain potential cyber threats to critical national infrastructure including emergency call centers, air traffic control systems, and water facilities; and will discuss what his research reveals in terms of what has been done to address and effectively resolve such threats. “One major challenge in effectively protecting the U.S. from cyber attacks is a lack of awareness among the general population,” explains Castro. “I look forward to using my presentation as an opportunity to raise awareness of this pressing issue.”

The Vannicelli Prize is awarded each semester in honor of the late Holy Cross political science professor and Washington Semester director, Maurizio Vannicelli, for best research paper produced in the Washington Semester Away program. The recipient of the prize is awarded the opportunity to give a public lecture at the College on his or her thesis. In addition, the recipient receives a bound copy of the thesis and is presented the book award during commencement exercises.

For additional information, please contact Cristal Steuer at 508-793-2419.

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