Even when the primary means of digital communication was email, parents warned, “Don’t click on any emails that look suspicious,” fearing the harm that could be caused by just one simple click. Today, cybersecurity remains a highly important issue.
Many people have begun to doubt the soundness of cybersecurity. One may be checking emails and stop to wonder, “Are these really private?” The same could be questioned about text messages or pictures on Snapchat. At times, it may feel as though nothing on the Internet is private, and for good reason. Millions of cyberattacks, both small and large, target businesses and data centers each year, jeopardizing the information of billions of people, and generally contributing to the absence of privacy of anything shared over the internet. However, Cornell’s Computer and Information scientists believe there is potential to more safely use the Internet to connect people and share information.
Research needs money, and that is exactly what Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand discussed last spring before announcing the generous funding decision of $2.5 million to Cornell. The money is being federally funded by the National Science Foundation and is intended to support the research and development necessary to build a new software program to support the advancement of national cybersecurity. Cornell is currently on a mission to develop a “high-level programming language” called Viaduct. According to Executive Gov, a news site with a focus on cybersecurity, “Viaduct is designed to convert collected protocols into primitive cryptographic building blocks that create machine-checkable security systems”. A Computer and Information Science researcher working on the plan said that, “The Viaduct system will automatically translate high-level code into provably secure implementations that use sophisticated cryptography.”
The grant will be spent entirely on Cornell’s existing research into the field of cryptography. Cryptography, the use of complex encoding of data to secure data, remains a developing area of cybersecurity technology. Many believe that if enough research is done in the field, that an entirely new and improved method of data protection can be achieved.
Senator Schumer expressed his excitement for the launch of the new technology, stating that the program will “stop hackers in their tracks”. So hopefully, in the upcoming years, we will gain access to greater cybersecurity for our daily use of the Internet and digital forms of communication.