Viruses, Botnets and Ransomware: An Interactive History of Computers Doing Bad Things

Eugene Lang College Lib Arts: Culture and Media

Liberal Arts

Undergraduate Course

Degree Students

Viruses, Botnets & Ransomware

Spring 2019

Taught By: Todd Anderson

Section: A

CRN: 7780

Credits: 4

Since there have been computers there have been programs lurking surreptitiously in the background, ready to exploit them. This will be a survey course covering a history of computational skullduggery from the Stuxnet virus the US used to tamper with Iran’s nuclear reactor software, to the Mirai Botnet which used thousands of unsecured smart fridges, toasters and cameras to bring down major websites, to the algorithmic excess of Facebook and Google’s proprietary content distribution systems that led to false news stories being read by millions. As we explore these historical events, how they were perceived at the time and the social and technological changes they led to, we will also work to understand how these events happened from a computational perspective: what were the vulnerabilities of the system, and how were they exploited. The goal is for students to able to apply this perspective to new technologies as they emerge and to better understand and predict the potential for exploitation. Coursework will include readings, discussions, research papers, and coding exercises to explore some of the underlying ideas of the historical examples. For the final, students will have the option of creating a creative, compelling, safe and reversible virus in the form of a browser extension. Students should bring a laptop to class.

College: Eugene Lang College Lib Arts (LC)

Department: Culture and Media (LCST)

Campus: New York City (GV)

Course Format: Seminar (R)

Max Enrollment: 18

Enrollment Status: Open*

*Enrollment status information is updated every five minutes. The status of this course may have changed since the last update. Open seats may have restrictions that will prevent some students from registering. Updated: 12:36pm 5/20/2019

Meeting Info:

Days: Tuesday, Thursday

Times: 1:50pm - 3:30pm

Building: Johnson/Kaplan 66 West 12th

Room: 509

Date Range: 1/22/2019 - 5/9/2019