History at LSE ranked #1

I was just informed that my Alma Mater, the International History department at LSE, has been ranked #1 in the 2011 Complete University Guide.

It was given an overall score of 100 out of 100 possible points.

Oxford was second with a score of 99.8. Hard to understand how Durham ended in third with higher graduate prospects and student satisfaction compared to Oxford, but perhaps research assessment and entry standards have more weight?

Congrats LSE. Go Beavers!

My experience there was excellent. I primarily studied international security during the Cold War in Asia, Africa and Europe. My thesis was on defense ethics strategy, information warfare, and long-term global security impact from military occupation of the Horn of Africa: “Anglo-Ethiopian Relations 1940-1943: British military intervention and the return to power of Emperor Haile Selassie“.

Some ask me what this has to do with information security. I usually point to two areas:

  1. Security is essentially a taxonomy of authority: who did what, where and when. History students read books and write analysis of events to provide a coherent and accurate picture of an incident in much the same way that security analysts look at computer data. Instead of reading first-person accounts I now read computer logs and similar output. Designing effective controls depends on a clear understanding of risk, which comes from an analysis of vulnerability and threat information from past events. It is no coincidence that security professionals, especially those in the armed forces, are usually so interested in studying history.
  2. The invasion and occupation of Ethiopia by Britain in 1940 created a delicate mission of stability and security. British authorities, who were known best for a legacy of imperialism, aimed to (re)establish sovereignty in a country proud of its independence. There are some clear lessons to be learned from the decisions and outcome of this policy, especially when looking at present-day objectives for US operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The result of the West’s post-WWII policy for the Horn of Africa, briefly put, was a failure in terms of security. It instead precipitated revolution, invited territorial war (with Somalia) and fueled an anti-American military party (the Derg) rise to power. The region’s instability coupled with diminished American influence continues to present serious security problems for the West even today (e.g. piracy and safe-harbor for terrorists).

Thus, the study of international history can teach excellent event/incident analysis and reporting skills that transfer easily into information security and risk management.

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