At an event announcing the new initiatives, CSAIL Director Daniela Rus highlighted her lab's role developing time-sharing and data encryption. Photo: Jason Dorfman/CSAIL
At an event announcing the new initiatives, CSAIL Director Daniela Rus highlighted her lab’s role developing time-sharing and data encryption. Photo: Jason Dorfman/CSAIL

Cybersecurity has a long history at MIT, and the latest chapter began last month on three fronts. Housed in the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and MIT Sloan School of Management, a trio of new programs will apply the Institute’s technical, public policy, and organizational management expertise to keeping computers and networks safe from attack.

The first networked computing system and the first computer password were born at MIT in the 1960s. RSA—the most widely used cryptographic system—was invented by three MIT researchers in the 1970s. In the decades since, the need for ingenuity in this area has grown steadily in response to increasingly sophisticated threats.

Speaking to BostInno, CSAIL director Daniela Rus commented on the frequency and immense cost of cybersecurity breaches: “In total, cybercrime has been estimated to cost the global economy more than $400 billion a year.”

CyberSecurity@CSAIL will bring together software, hardware, and cryptography experts to develop protocols to rebuff attacks, and to allow systems to recover more quickly if attacks do occur. Associate director of CSAIL Howard Shrobe will lead the effort.

A second program aims to establish a framework to guide new cyber policies. The Cybersecurity Policy Initiative will be headed by Daniel Weitzner, co-director of CSAIL’s Decentralized Information Group and former US deputy chief technology officer for internet policy.

A third program, the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (IC)3, will be housed at MIT Sloan. Under the leadership of Stuart Madnick, the Maguire Professor of Information Technologies, (IC)3 will address strategic, managerial, and operational issues related to cybersecurity.

For more on the new initiatives, visit MIT News and BostInno.

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