MIT Leaders Tackle Cybersecurity Threats With Hewlett Grant

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Today, with a grant from the Hewlett Foundation, MIT launched the MIT Cybersecurity and Internet Policy Research Initiative, which will bring together a team of cybersecurity experts and policy influencers to develop technologies and solutions for cybercrime.

"How can we help businesses and governments protect themselves effectively?" That is the question MIT President L. Rafael Reif has asked some of the most brilliant people in the country to answer.

MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and the Sloan School of Management have laid out four goals for the initiative: Make good policy, measure progress, develop sound governance and proper institutional design, and align incentives and manage risk.

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"Our researchers thrive on a challenge, and today, there aren't many challenges bigger than cybersecurity," said CSAIL Director Daniela Rus. Rus said MIT will create a holistic foundation for eliminating current vulnerabilities, particularly in older systems, and protecting technologies and systems in the future.

CSAIL's Howard Shrobe said the organization will focus on designing new systems that put security at the forefront, "That, by the very structure, enforce properties that we rely on," Shrobe said.

Shrobe said, however, that most security solutions see a lag time of up to 10 years before they are fully integrated into businesses and governments. That is where the MIT Sloan School of Management comes in to make sure solutions are developed with real-world business applications in mind, and that the business world stays abreast of new security developments.

"It's great to hear about the work being done to improve the technologies from our colleagues within CSAIL, and the regulatory considerations," said Sloan's Stuart Madnick. However, "Various studies have shown that up to 80 percent of the incidences are aided or abetted by authorized users."

"Understanding the organizational, managerial and strategic issues about cybersecurity is of great importance in protecting our critical infrastructure," Madnick said.