Cyber Security for the Physical Economy


Stanford School of Engineering

Cyber Security for the Physical Economy


Cyber security is one the most urgent challenges facing executives running critical infrastructure companies and associated organizations that together comprise the “physical” or “real” economy.  These include, for example, major power utilities, water utilities, operators of major bridges or tunnels, municipalities, mass transit systems and large cloud computing providers. For these companies, cyber-attacks continue to double every few years, while the identification, prevention and recovery efforts to prevent these losses also doubles in synchrony. These trends are closely tied to the rapidly evolving global cyber risk environment including expanding use of IIoT, cloud, and OT systems that both improve and, at the same time, open up compromises in organizational resiliency. Additionally, remote work responses to the current COVID-19 pandemic have exposed this new environment to threat actors now increasingly capitalizing on the chaos.  

Who Is Eligible to Apply

This immersive, 5-day online program is designed to give C-Suite, Boards of Directors, and Senior Operating Managers, working in teams of 3 to 4 executives, a real-world perspective on the current operational threats, what they actually look like in practice, how to maintain a continuous operational security posture, and how to properly communicate to stakeholders what their company is doing when the worst case scenario is realized. This is not about compliance, but rather how operating managers can ask the right questions of security professionals and understand whether the answers are addressing the real threats and risk of loss for their company. While not a program specifically for CIO’s/CISO’s, program instructors are practitioners in the current threat landscape and sophisticated network attacks on large real networks will be used to make key points around threat vector performance. **This course may not be available to learners in some countries or territories.**

What you will learn

The program will show how to quantify both return on investment and robust risk metrics around the four essential elements of a comprehensive cyber security strategy that include:

  1. understanding the current landscape of cyber threats,
  2. building a preemptive mitigation strategy,
  3. crafting a coherent and effective response plan, and
  4. enabling a rapid and seamless recovery to normal operations.

The program is structured around the timeline of a simulated cyber-attack including fully immersive sessions that delve into the realities of cyber business risk and emerging best practices in managing the cyber risk lifecycle, breaking down the complexity of cyber risk with a structured discussion of pre-attack strategy (T-2 months), response (T+1 day) and recovery (T+1 week) dynamics. We’ll address the entire suite of detection, response, communication, escalation and recovery. Crisis management communication will be integrated across the program and key takeaway templates will be provided.

Topics include

Preparation and Resilience

What are the important considerations when you have yet to experience a crippling cyber-attack?  What are the major components of an effective mitigation or pre-emptive strategy?  How do you assess the “real” risk to business operations?  What are you protecting and why? Participants will learn tools and frameworks to structure their team’s thinking while everything is running smoothly.


Your fears have been realized and the clock is running!  What are the important response strategies and most critical actions?  How does your team quickly and accurately assess the full extent of the attack?  How do you swiftly determine and quickly marshal the appropriate expertise to respond?   What is an appropriate escalation plan to inform senior executives and board members?  How do you handle crisis communication?  Seeing attacks ahead of time allows companies to optimize response for attacks before they happen, adjust internal policies, processes and controls to give transparency into risk beforehand, and synchronize activities across the organization to reduce risk.


What are the appropriate actions and timeline for transitioning from crisis response to recovery of normal operations at a more sophisticated level of preparedness?   What are appropriate strategies for transferring the risk of future attacks through insurance or consulting contracts?  How do you best learn from your experiences? Companies must have a recovery plan in place, understand the scenarios of recovery that may pose added risk to the company, and be able to coordinate restoration activities with external parties and incorporate lessons learned into an updated recovery strategy.

Follow Up

In addition to the 5 session program for executive teams tasked directly with cyber security, the course is followed by a 2-hour, invitation-only webinar for senior executives and board members of each participant’s organization.  This webinar is intended to provide a common language and understanding of cyber risk for better alignment at the highest levels of the organization.  Participants of the on-campus program will receive a Certificate from the Stanford Center for Professional Development.

To get an idea of what this program will cover, you may want to watch the webinar, Securing the World Around Us: Cyber Security for the Physical Economy.

Watch the webinar


COVID-19 Accommodation

This program will be conducted on the well-proven Stanford Zoom platform used to teach Spring and Summer quarter regular Stanford courses. Participants will be provided with a simple way to contribute anonymous data on attacks they have seen to a research database that Stanford is building as a resource for all participants. Visualization and immersive online techniques will be used to allow participants to interact and obtain exposure to experience the nature of attacks, make decisions under simulated cyber-attack scenarios, and see the projected outcomes of those attacks.


$7,900 per person

$6,900 per person for early registration, expires July 20, 2020.

Discounts are available for teams of 2 or more. Please contact Student and Client Services at

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