Sunday, February 15, 2009

Will A New Internet Be Any Safer?

Somewhere deep in the campus of Stanford, engineers are designing a parallel Internet, one that will be, supposedly, insulated from some of the security issues plaguing the current public one.

But the question is: will it actually end up being safer or just another clone of its security-hole ridden ancestor?

In this thought-provoking article in The New York Times, John Markoff probes just that question. The idea is that this new Internet will have safeguards, not available currently, and will gradually take over, relegating the existing Internet to a bad neighborhood, where only the brave tread.

Citing the Conficker worm, which evaded existing Internet defenses, Markoff quotes Rick Wesson, the CEO of Support Intelligence, who says we're heading toward a "digital Pearl Harbor" where we have "Japanese ships streaming toward us on the horizon."

The Stanford Clean Slate project is designed to add better security features to the network and provide law enforcement better tracking capabilities. Their idea is to have something like a drivers license for anyone wanting to connect to the Internet. Of course, as with the existing Internet, the issue of identity is difficult, if not almost impossible.

What will probably happen, the article says, is that this supposedly new Internet will have features built into the routers and software, the backbone of the existing Internet.


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