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Communications of the ACM


Cybersecurity as Illuminator for the Future of Computing Research

numeric codes and shining lights, illustration

Credit: Carlos Castilla

Today, forces as disparate as the ever-increasing centrality of computing to modern society, the intellectual and technical maturing of the discipline itself, changing expectations about the impact of research results, and evolving conceptions of effective researcher career paths drive us to reflect on how the field and profession of computing research should grow and change in response.

In this column, we suggest that the role of cybersecurity in real-world systems, and the costs of its absence, are making the effects of these forces visible to the cybersecurity research community both particularly clearly and particularly early. Hence, lessons being learned by cybersecurity researchers today can help illuminate the path toward evolution of the larger computing research enterprise tomorrow. To explore this idea, we outline several motivating forces we see at play and some lessons cybersecurity researchers are drawing from them. We then turn to the field more broadly, and propose a series of questions worth asking and exploring in that context.


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