January 12, 2022 - Podcast

Episode 216— COVID boosters and schools, and IU students advise on cybersecurity

With 12- to 15-year-olds now approved to receive the COVID-19 booster, some may be wondering if this is a necessary step to keep schools safer, particularly with the omicron variant spreading through the United States and world. Katharine Head, an associate professor of communication studies in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and an expert in vaccine promotion, says while she is excited for parents and kids to have this option, she isn’t certain it will make much of a difference in achieving safe, COVID-free schools in many areas of the country. According to CDC data, currently only 53 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have received the initial two-dose regimen. Health policy experts say increased masking, testing availability, and other measures will be key to ensuring COVID-19 safety in schools – which Head says are tools some schools may be lacking. She says the first two years of the pandemic have shown that children need to be in school, but we cannot safely keep kids in school in the midst of a raging pandemic surge when we don’t have the tools we need. Further, she says missteps by the federal government in promoting widespread vaccination and the failure to provide widespread accessible COVID-19 testing means that we are still facing a public health crisis that puts many kids at risk.
In other news, there’s no doubt that cybercrime is on the rise across the world, affecting millions of people and costing trillions of dollars globally as organizations, businesses and whole nations try to fend off increasingly sophisticated threats. Recently, Indiana University students with IU’s Cybersecurity Clinic helped the Balkan state of Kosovo fortify itself against cyberharms by advising the Parliament on the development of its national cybersecurity legislation. IU’s student team consisted of five graduate students, who took on the task of reviewing the draft of Kosovo’s cybersecurity act and making recommendations on many provisions. The students took a comparative approach, analyzing each of the draft law’s provisions with respect to international conventions, EU legislation, legislation from countries that have more dominance in cyberpower, and legislation from countries that are in a similar situation to Kosovo. Over months of work, the students drafted a 100-page analysis that was shared with the Kosovo government, and the final Kosovo cybersecurity legislation will directly reflect the IU students’ work and recommendations, says Asaf Lubin, an associate professor of law at IU Bloomington’s Maurer School of Law and a fellow at IU’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research. The Kosovo government was very impressed by the work the IU students did in researching the bill, says IU’s Scott Shackelford, academic director of the clinic, chair of the Cybersecurity Risk Management Program, Executive Director of the Ostrom Workshop and associate professor of business law and ethics. They ensured throughout the process that their legislative timelines aligned with the clinic’s timeline to maximize the possibility of incorporating the students’ work into their internal legislative processes, he says.  Lubin says a project like this creates good opportunities for more international collaborations in the future. There is a desperate need for cybersecurity expertise in the legislative context, he says, and IU is in a position to help other countries advance their own cybersecurity practices.