News: Larry Susskind Discusses Ransomware Attacks on WGBH

2019-11-08 - 2 minutes read

In a recent WGBH interview, Arun Rath and Larry Susskind talked about ransomeware attacks.

Susskind, Ford Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, explained that hacking is incredibly common. In fact, he said that there “are literally thousands of attacks a day”, with international hackers looking for weak points where they can plant malware. Once the malware is in place, they will hold your data hostage until you pay a fee.

In an effort to prevent the chaos these hackers are interested in, Susskind is working with cities to stop ransomware attacks before they occur by finding and fixing existing vulnerabilities. This prevention is imperative to critical infrastructure like public transit, hospitals, and electric systems, which would cause great trouble (some of it life-threatening) if their service was interrupted.

Fortunately, Susskind notes that preparedness does not need to be costly — preventative practices like installing the latest patch for your operating system and ensuring that employees know not to open attachments from non-trustworthy sources are very important steps.

Example of a ransomware attack asking for BitCoin payment. Image by Christiaan Colen, and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

One way MIT is trying to prevent future attacks is through the upcoming MIT Cybersecurity Clinic, which will run in Spring 2020 and will be co-managed by Larry Susskind and Daniel Weitzner. The clinic aims to provide assistance to public agencies in their efforts to prepare for ransomware attacks.

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