UROP Mentor: Cindy A. Schipani, JD

UROP Research Team: Yufeiyang Gao

What is your research project? 



What are the goals of your research project?

The project which will involve research and analysis regarding:

  1. Issues companies face protecting data from theft and ransomware attacks
  2. Understanding the difficulty of tracking the cryptocurrency used in payment of ransom 
  3. Law enforcement issues
  4. Making recommendations for business as well as law reform.

Why is this research important?

In March 2020 the unthinkable happened. We entered the start of a global pandemic and the ordinary dealings of the business world transitioned almost fully to cyberspace. The impacts of the remote world on the stock market and unemployment rate made headlines, but the heavy reliance on the online world perpetuated the exponential growth of cyber-attacks making cybersecurity even more important. Over the past few years, the prevalence of a specific type of cyber-attack known as ransomware attacks have been increasing at an alarming rate. Hackers located across the globe in countries where there is no fear of U.S. extradition are hacking into networks and stealing confidential information from U.S. entities. Companies are finding that the only way to get the data back or prevent it from becoming public is to pay a largely untraceable ransom in cryptocurrency. Yet, these payments provide no guarantee that the information will not be later publicized.

What drives you to conduct this research?

Cyber attacks affect us all. As consumers not only do we need to find ways to keep our data safe, we are affected by attacks on the companies and institutions that hold our data. The current state of affairs, where companies tend to simply pay off the hackers is unsatisfactory - the data is still out there, and costs to consumers rise. I'd like to find ways in which both businesses and legal authorities can work to resolve these issues.

Is there a Call to Action you would like to encourage?

Do as much as you can to protect your data. If something sounds like a scam, it probably is. Remain skeptical.