RealNews

Dissertation Could Be Security Threat

Student’s Maps Illustrate Concerns About Public Information. Sean Gorman’s professor called his dissertation “tedious and unimportant.” Gorman didn’t talk about it when he went on dates because “it was so boring they’d start staring up at the ceiling.” But since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Gorman’s work has become so compelling that companies want to seize it, government officials want to suppress it, and al Qaeda operatives — if they could get their hands on it — would find a terrorist treasure map. Tinkering on a laptop, wearing a rumpled T-shirt and a soul patch goatee, this George Mason University graduate student has mapped every business and industrial sector in the American economy, layering on top the fiber-optic network that connects them. He can click on a bank in Manhattan and see who has communication lines running into it and where. He can zoom in on Baltimore and find the choke point for trucking warehouses. He can drill into a cable trench between Kansas and Colorado and determine how to create the most havoc with a hedge clipper. Using mathematical formulas, he probes for critical links, trying to answer the question: “If I were Osama bin Laden, where would I want to attack?” In the background, he plays the Beastie Boys. Full Story

OODA Analyst

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