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TECH 02 W — Cyber Technologies and Their World-Changing Disruptions: Election Hacking, Fake News, and Beyond

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Feb 5—Mar 16
Drop Deadline: Feb 8
Unit: 1
Tuition: $375
Instructor(s): Allison Berke
Limit: 40
Status: Open
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 2/8 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 2/13 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Feb 5—Mar 16
6 weeks
Drop By
Feb 8
1 Unit
Allison Berke
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 2/8 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 2/13 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Cybersecurity traditionally involves controlling access to our data, facing off against masked hackers, and preventing digital fraud and identity theft. At its core, however, cybersecurity is about maintaining trust, and the trust we place in systems—computer systems and societal systems—that form the basis of our way of life and our democracy. During the 2016 election, trust in our election systems and free press was strained by cyber attacks on voter databases and automatically generated bots that spread “fake news” online across social media networks.

Drawing on research from the Stanford Cyber Initiative, this course will explore how cyber technologies are becoming deeply embedded in, and often disrupting, our everyday lives and vital institutions. We will start with a gentle introduction to the technological underpinnings of cyber technology and cybersecurity. We will then explore how cyber technologies are creating disruption, and what we can do to maintain or restore trust. Topics will include the integrity of election systems, the ability to maintain a free press and the free flow of information, the cyber risks posed to our military and financial institutions and how we can defend against them (including by using new technologies such as blockchain and machine learning), and even how cyber technologies could affect the future of employment and job security through artificial intelligence and automation.


  • Course sizes are limited.
    You won't have 5,000 classmates. This course's enrollment is capped at 40 participants.

  • Frequent interaction with the instructor.
    You aren't expected to work through the material alone. Instructors will answer questions and interact with students on the discussion board and through weekly video meetings.

  • Study with a vibrant peer group.
    Stanford Continuing Studies courses attract thoughtful and engaged students who take courses for the love of learning. Students in each course will exchange ideas with one another through easy-to-use message boards as well as optional weekly real-time video conferences.

  • Direct feedback from the instructor.
    Instructors will review and offer feedback on assignment submissions. Students are not required to turn in assignments, but for those who do, their work is graded by the instructor.

  • Courses offer the flexibility to participate on your own schedule.
    Course work is completed on a weekly basis when you have the time. You can log in and participate in the class whenever it's convenient for you. If you can’t attend the weekly video meetings, the sessions are always recorded for you and your instructor is just an email away.

  • This course is offered through Stanford Continuing Studies.
    To learn more about the program, visit our About Us page. For more information on the online format, please visit the FAQ page.

Allison Berke, Executive Director, Stanford Cyber Initiative

Allison Berke is the executive director of the Stanford Cyber Initiative, a central hub on campus to address the challenges raised by cyber technologies in our social systems. She also teaches at Stanford on computers, ethics, and public policy; chairs the Blockchain Protocol Analysis and Security Engineering conference; and writes on private blockchains and computer security in healthcare. She received a PhD in bioengineering from UC Berkeley.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.