Cyber Security Studies at the Marshall Center

A Comprehensive Nontechnical Program for Government and Cyber Professionals

By Dr. Robert B. Brannon, dean, Marshall Center

There is a great deal of interest these days in all things “cyber.” Despite a flurry of activity in several critical areas, the field of education and training has lagged, especially at the strategic, or policy, level. The Marshall Center’s Program in Cyber Security Studies (PCSS) is designed to meet the specific needs of senior government officials who strive to improve their professional knowledge of transnational cyber security challenges. The program is taught by world leaders in cyber security and is tailored for senior officials with responsibilities for developing or influencing cyber legislation, policies or practices. PCSS is a nontechnical course that is ideal for diplomats, legislators, ministerial staff, policymakers, military and law enforcement officers. The program is unclassified, conducted in English, and open only to serving government officials.

The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies (GCMC) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, is a unique German-American partnership institution that focuses on the most important transnational security issues, including cyber security, extremism, civil security, region-specific challenges, and interagency and interdisciplinary responses and cooperation. Guided by the legacy and ideals of the Marshall Plan, the Marshall Center promotes Euro-Atlantic values through security education. The GCMC conducts resident and nonresident courses throughout Europe and Eurasia. The Marshall Center supports both governments and boasts an international faculty and staff from 10 partner nations.

Executive summary

Meeting the escalating demands of digital infrastructure requires the right technology and public policy. In today’s interconnected world, organizations must actively defend against transnational threats in cyberspace. Decision-makers must be familiar with cyber security best practices to protect governmental and private activities. PCSS invites top experts from government, industry and academia to share their experiences and knowledge to provide participants the principles and state-of-the-art practices and strategies for the future.

The curriculum focuses on strategic objectives, techniques, policies and best practices that secure and defend the availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality and nonrepudiation of information and information systems across cyber domains. PCSS provides participants with transnational cyber skills and prepares individuals for positions as senior-level cyber security leaders throughout government.

Sessions address strategy, policy and legal practices from multiple viewpoints and focus on comprehensive methods to advance cyber security and mitigate cyber vulnerabilities. Participants will also learn about active defense, incident response preparation and risk analysis. The content is targeted at ensuring the privacy, reliability and integrity of information systems.

What is cyberspace?

Cyberspace is the transnational domain of information technology infrastructures and interdependent networks. This includes the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems and embedded processors in critical industries.1 Common usage of the term also refers to the virtual environment of information and interactions between people.

The globally interconnected and interdependent cyberspace underpins modern society and provides critical support for the world economy, civil infrastructure, public safety and national security. Information technology has transformed the global economy by connecting people and markets around the world. To realize the full potential of the digital revolution, users require confidence that their sensitive information is secure, commerce is not compromised, and infrastructure is not infiltrated.

Protecting cyberspace requires strong vision and leadership, as well as changes in priorities, policies, technologies, education, laws and international agreements. The highest levels of government, industry and civil society must demonstrate genuine commitment to cyber security for nations to innovate and adopt cutting-edge technology while enhancing national security, the global economy and individual free expression.

Threats to cyberspace pose one of the foremost economic and national security challenges of the 21st century for national security professionals. A growing array of state and nonstate actors are targeting citizens, commerce, critical infrastructure and governments. These transnational actors compromise, steal, alter or destroy information.

Program overview

The Marshall Center Program on Cyber Security Studies is led by Professor Phil Lark and his deputy, Col. Gottfried Salchner of the Austrian Army. They have developed a comprehensive program incorporating a whole-of-government approach. Elements of PCSS are included in all Marshall Center programs, including the Program on Terrorism Security Studies (PTSS), the Seminar on Transatlantic Civil Security (STACS), and the program on Counternarcotics and Illicit Trafficking (CNIT). The PCSS program seeks to increase partnership possibilities with cyber security organizations. Interested organizations should contact the GCMC for further information.

The PCSS prepares leaders for making informed decisions on cyber security, strategy, resourcing, policy and planning and is designed for senior and midlevel civil servants from throughout the whole of government who are involved in the development of cyber and information technology and legislation, planning, investigations and government oversight. Diplomats, policy practitioners, cyber security management, law enforcement and military officers are invited. Participation is extended to, but not limited to:

  • Ministry of Interior
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of Banking and Finance
  • Ministry of Emergency Situations
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Defense civilians and military officers
  • Law enforcement officials
  • Ministry of Communications and Information

The program emphasizes:

Privacy versus security and liberty versus control 

The PCSS addresses the friction between individual privacy and collective security.

The private and commercial nature of the Internet
No single entity—academic, corporate, governmental, or nonprofit—administers the Internet. Most of the technical infrastructure is privately owned. The network was designed to be a decentralized, self-maintaining series of redundant links between computers and computer networks.

Action, leadership and ethics
Participants in the PCSS join a corps of educated, professionally connected and disciplined leaders who can address cyber security’s complex challenges. This network cultivates a proactive and cooperative approach to meeting present and future transnational cyber security challenges.

Competing angles of analysis
In international affairs, there are multiple approaches to solving problems and meeting transnational security challenges, including cyber security. Competing priorities, public-private friction, legal issues, national and corporate interests, and professional ethics must be kept in mind.

The program focuses on: 

The environment, institutions and challenges
PCSS offers a comprehensive cyber program that encourages “intellectual cyber interoperability.” The program promotes:

  • Understanding of the transnational cyber environment, including national approaches in the United States, Germany, the European Union, NATO and other international organizations
  • International collaboration and information sharing
  • Cyber strategy and policy development
  • Detecting and combating cyber crime
  • Cyber policy applications in countering terrorism
  • Cyber aspects of critical infrastructure protection
  • The role of the private sector in information and cyber technology
  • Identifying measures for cooperation in detecting and mitigating cyber incidents

The program features:

This three-day intensive cyber education program for parliamentarians and senior leaders covers the critical strategy, policy, and legal and private sector issues of cyber security at the executive level. This program enables the sharing of perspectives, experiences and best practices on current and relevant cyber security issues. It facilitates a network of key government officials in positions of influence from throughout the world with a common understanding of cyber security challenges.

A PCSS resident course conducted at the Marshall Center starts with a two-week session that focuses on strategic objectives, techniques, policies and best practices that secure the availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and nonrepudiation of information and systems across cyber domains. The course length may grow in future iterations and will include distance learning via GlobalNET. This core resident course provides:

  • Deeper understanding of cyber security challenges at the executive and functional levels
  • Networking opportunities for civil servants and cyber practitioners to forge strong transnational and cooperative relationships

Nonresident  offerings

These are regionally focused events supporting Central and Southeast Europe, the Black Sea, Eurasia and Central Asia. Each workshop supports the needs and requests of partners and connects regional leaders with leading cyber experts and German and American teams. GCMC nonresident events are flexible and respond to emerging requirements nationally and regionally.

Distance Learning
Participants registered for the resident program undergo an Internet portion of the course before arriving at the GCMC. Reference materials, policy documents, selected lectures and panels are available online at the Marshall Center’s GlobalNET Web pages. PCSS alumni may continue their professional development through GCMC distance learning webinars and other online hosted events.

Cyber-Weekly Newsletter
The GCMC’s cyber security newsletter is available to GCMC alumni every week. This newsletter highlights cyber-related news and emerging challenges in a variety of areas, including:

  • New vulnerabilities and threats
  • Academia and professional articles
  • Cyber trends
  • Legislation, policy and regulations
  • Technologies and standards
  • Investigations, law enforcement and litigation
  • Research and development
  • Best practices
  • Cyber events
  • Key leaders and cyber personalities

The George C. Marshall Center Student Internship Program is an unpaid internship offering U.S. and EU citizens who are enrolled as undergraduate and graduate students a chance to participate and support the GCMC Program on Cyber Security Studies. These internships provide professional development through hands-on experience in an academic setting and insight into the daily operations of an international security studies center.

English Language Refresher 

Course-Cyber Security Language (CSL)
Commencing in 2014, CSL is designed for both military and civilian cyber professionals who want to improve their topic-specific English language skills before attending the PCSS resident course. The five-week course helps non-native English speakers participate fully in PCSS and enhances their professional development, as well as their engagement with fellow participants, GCMC faculty, and the cyber community as a whole. 

Cyber Library at the Marshall Center with Internet via GlobalNET

Alumni Program
The GCMC has more than 10,000 alumni in nearly 140 partner nations. The alumni include senior policymakers and military officers, as well as career civil servants from dozens of ministries. Our specific alumni programs include:

  • Distinguished alumni events
    Conversations with senior leaders
  • Community of interest events
    Cyber-specific networking and education 
  • Regional alumni workshops
    Southeast Europe, Black Sea/Eurasia, Central Asia and worldwide
  • In-region networking
    Partnerships with embassies, ministries and alumni associations

The Resident Course

The resident course focuses on ways to address evolving challenges in the cyber domain but still adhere to fundamental democratic values. It helps participants appreciate the nature and magnitude of today’s threats and develop a common understanding of the lexicon, best practices and current initiatives within the public and private cyber sectors. Moreover, the program allows participants to establish a professional network with other cyber-focused government officials. Initially, the GCMC will offer a two-week resident program beginning in December 2014. There is enthusiastic potential to expand and grow the resident program, especially as we seek to establish new partnerships and adapt the curriculum to current and relevant challenges. The objectives of the program include:

  • Developing a mutual understanding of country-specific approaches to cyber security
  • Enhancing participants’ ability to comprehend, analyze and evaluate defense and cyber security issues and transnational challenges•
  • Cultivating an ability to think critically and strategically on cyber matters
  • Strengthening the foundation for cooperative approaches to shared cyber security challenges

Participant Outcomes and Expectations

The Marshall Center does not offer textbook solutions to challenges. Participants can expect to develop a better understanding of the main cyber security issues influencing national, regional and international security, the factors shaping national cyber security strategies, and the imperatives of cooperative security in an interdependent world. Corresponding benefits of participation include:

  • Increased awareness of the magnitude of the challenges in cyber security
  • Improved coordination between intergovernmental/international organizations, international processes and private enterprises
  • Long-term international support to regional challenges
  • Proactive coordinated international support
  • Practical information sharing and professional networking
  • Exchanging best practices
  • Greater local ownership of the issues, problems and solutions

The Curriculum

The course curriculum emphasizes the essential skills of the cyber professional, including strategy and policy development, collaboration, planning, critical thinking, strategic leadership, and crisis and risk management skills. It consists of lectures, panels, video teleconferences, seminars, exercises and case studies. The modules consist of plenary lectures attended by all participants, small group seminars (approximately 12-15 participants) led by Marshall Center resident faculty and adjunct international experts, and readings that focus on relevant and current literature.

PCSS begins by building a foundation for understanding cyber security. GCMC professors orient participants on the operational definitions, conventions and institutional frameworks of the cyber security field. These initial lectures cover norms and responsible state behavior in cyberspace, international laws and organizations, and the cyber security policies of the U.S., Germany, the EU and NATO. This expands into current trends and issues such as privacy versus security, and discussion of national and transnational threats and challenges.

PCSS then moves into complex issues of cyber strategy and risk analysis through case studies of governmental and corporate cyber policy development. Participants examine best practices on how to protect high-value assets and critical infrastructure, and how highly adaptive nonstate entities, such as organized crime networks and terrorist groups, influence policy. This prepares participants for the PCSS capstone exercise in which they develop a personalized cyber strategy on a topic of their choice.

Additionally, PCSS seminars expand on cyber attribution, and focus on public-private collaboration and the contrasts between both sectors’ emergency response teams. PCSS professors guide participants through contingency planning for natural disasters and other events, reinforcing data protection, and understanding the growth of data centers. The curriculum concludes with cyber policy ethics and guidelines on how to acquire and develop the next generation of cyber professionals, and futurists from the private sector share their visions of emerging possibilities, challenges and solutions in cyber security.

In summary, PCSS participants receive presentations from prominent government officials, private industry experts and internationally renowned scholars. The curriculum provides a framework of professional development and networking for cyber security experts and professionals as they pursue their careers. Graduates of PCSS do not learn what to think, but how to think about complex national and transnational cyber challenges.

Specific cyber security topics addressed in the PCSS and other GCMC resident and nonresident programs include a wide variety of cyber security themes. The German-American partnership at the GCMC offers rich, constructive and useful programs to best prepare government leaders for complex challenges.

The Program on Cyber Security Studies complements other GCMC transnational security programs that focus on countering transnational threats such as terrorism, insurgent and criminal networks, organized crime, illicit trafficking and civil security challenges. All transnational threats include a cyber domain.

1. National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23.

Whole-of-Government Approaches to:

  • Internet Governance
  • Cyber Statecraft Development
  • Cyber Capacity Building
  • Internet Freedom
  • Privacy and Security
  • Protection of Intellectual Property
  • Combating Terrorism & Cyber Crime
  • Public/Private Partnership

How to Apply

For additional information about PCSS, contact the program leadership at For application information, contact the Marshall Center registrar at, your ministry point of contact, or the U.S. Embassy or German Embassy in your capital city.

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