Summer 2016 Edition

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Studying abroad: the office of global education

As the fall semester approaches, the Office of Global Education (OGE) is busy preparing for the upcoming academic year, and we are excited to prepare students for successful and rewarding experiences overseas. If you are curious about global education at Georgetown or your student has expressed interest in studying abroad, we encourage you to review this guide and visit the OGE website to explore the many options available to Georgetown students.

​Key Facts and Figures

If study abroad is on your student’s horizon, you are not alone. Georgetown is a leader in overseas study, sending over 900 undergraduate students abroad each year on credit-bearing study abroad programs to more than 40 countries around the globe. In a world more interconnected than ever before, studying abroad encourages students to be active global citizens, learn a foreign language, study alongside locals, and build greater independence and intercultural competence. The Office of Global Education offers full-year, semester, and summer study programs for students to pursue academic study internationally. You can visit the “Search Programs” tab on our website to look over our over 150 program options.

How Does My Student Get Started?

Most Georgetown students study abroad during their junior year or on a summer study program, and deadlines typically occur the semester prior to going abroad, though some programs require additional time and planning. No matter when your student wishes to go, it is never too early to start planning for study abroad!

OGE works hard to help students identify a program that meets their academic needs and intercultural goals. Students are encouraged to attend a Study Abroad 101 session (offered regularly during the academic year), meet with a Peer Advisor in our Welcome Center, or make an appointment with a regional study abroad advisor. The Office of Global Education is located in the historic Car Barn on Prospect Street, and our staff is available throughout the week for these types of visits.

If your student is considering studying abroad and doesn’t know where to begin, please encourage them to mark their calendars for our fall events:

  • All students are invited to the Fall 2016 Study Abroad Fair, which will be held in the Healey Family Student Center Thursday, September 8 11:30am-1:30pm.
  • New students and families are invited to visit OGE’s events during New Student Orientation, available in the NSO schedule.
  • Families can also look for us on the Parents Weekend schedule later this fall.

We look forward to meeting you soon!

Where can I learn more about health, safety, and finances?

At OGE, we know that families have many questions about study abroad, and particularly want to know that Georgetown is taking care to prepare students for overseas study and support them throughout the process. A helpful place to start is our study abroad parents’ guide (, where we’ve provided answers to some of these frequently asked questions. OGE also has a dedicated Safety section of our website ( that provides more in-depth information about how Georgetown addresses safety and health overseas.

How can I support my student in the study abroad process?

Study abroad is a time for developing greater independence, and at OGE our philosophy is that students should always contact us directly with any concerns they may have about their time abroad. This helps students not only take ownership of their experiences, but also prepares them for the type of resourcefulness that will help them be successful abroad. You can support your student by encouraging them to take the initiative in meeting with an OGE advisor and sharing their interests and goals with OGE as well as their other academic and personal support networks, including their families.

The Office of Global Education homepage also has links to the office’s student blog and social media accounts. These are great ways to learn more about the study abroad experience at Georgetown and get a better sense of what your student may experience while overseas.

We hope to work collaboratively with you to make study abroad a rewarding experience for your student. The Office of Global Education staff is available by phone at (202) 687-5867 or by email at

Professors Receive $1.7 Million to Develop New Cyber Defense

by William Zhu, from The Hoya

Three professors in Georgetown University’s computer science department received $1.7 million from a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop new cyber defense for distributed denial of service attacks.

Professor Wenchao Zhou, professor Micah Sherr and professor Clay Shields’ research is part of a larger $3.5 million project being led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania that aims to find a new approach to dealing with distributed denial of service cyberattacks.

A DDoS attack occurs when an attacker floods a network with requests and overloads its capacity, preventing it from working. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, there have been over 1,000 reported DDoS attacks with damages exceeding $1 million in 2015 alone.

DARPA conducts research for the Department of Defense and has contributed to the development of the internet, GPS and other technological advances.

This contract is the largest amount of funding the computer science department has ever received from a single source, according to Sherr.

Georgetown’s network was a victim of a DDoS attack earlier this year on March 31, according to Vice President Chief Information Officer UIS Judd Nicholson, causing Wi-Fi outages across campus.

Sherr said DDoS attacks are hard to protect against because the attacks closely resemble surges of normal internet traffic.

“It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between a lot of people just wanting to access your system and an attack trying to overwhelm the resources of your system,” Sherr said.

Sherr said DDoS attacks often involve multiple computers — frequently computers owned by innocent people — attacking a network.

“A distributed denial of service, which is probably more common nowadays, just means that the attack is originating from multiple places,” Sherr said. “This could be a million users across the United States who are innocent laypeople.”

Sherr said the conventional method of dealing with a DDoS attack is to clone the entire service to withstand the increased traffic.

“The current state of the art for denial of service attacks is to basically replicate your system as much as you possibly can,” Sherr said. “In other words, buy a bunch of hardware or buy a bunch of time on some cloud service to withstand large attacks and kind of hope for the best.”

The issue with this approach is the inability for a scaled response to an attack. In most DDoS attacks, according to Sherr, only a few system resources are targeted, but the entire system is replicated to mitigate the damage.

“In the standard technique where you replicate everything, you are taking all of your resources and you’re replicating it and that’s very wasteful,” Sherr said. “It is costly for you to replicate them, but it is also unnecessary for you to do so.”

The computer science professors at Georgetown are working on a new platform called Declarative Dispersion-Oriented Software, or DeDOS for short, in an effort to improve responses to DDoS attacks. This could allow systems to create more flexible responses to DDoS attacks without unnecessarily using resources such as disk memory and computing power.

The new approach is to only replicate the resources targeted in a DDoS attack and leave unaffected components alone. According to Sherr, this allows for a streamlined and cheaper means of providing cybersecurity.

“We are trying to identify what those targeted resources are and just clone those resources while keeping everything else the same,” Sherr said. “We are much better able to allocate a finite amount of resources that a system might have in order to best match the specific targets of the denial of service attack.”

Sherr said the reduction of systems into smaller pieces of software — named minimal split able units — is where the team faces the greatest challenges in its work.

“This breaking apart of software into small technical components turns out to be a pretty difficult technical task,” Sherr said

Sherr is also researching a new vulnerability, which exploits the voice-recognition software in many personal digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.

“We discovered that it is possible to construct commands from a computer that are understood and played over speakers that can be understood by these personal digital assistants but aren’t understandable by human beings,” Sherr said.

With this, hackers can compromise large amounts of sensitive information by playing a specially designed sound, causing the digital assistants of phones to either send out confidential data or download malware. Sherr said an authoritarian government could potentially use this against members of the public.

“You are a dissident in some country attending some rally and the government plays over the speaker some weird noise that everybody’s phone to send a text message to the government so the government can easily enumerate who attended the rally,” Sherr said.

Sherr and his colleagues will publish information on the vulnerability and a defense against it in August.

“We don’t want to introduce a new attack without some defenses,” Sherr said.