THE WORLD WIDE WEB has been around for a bit now and while the fact its openness to information is a good thing, it is about as secure as a tent.
The problem is that when it was designed in the 1960s security was locking the door, a guard on the gate and perhaps one of those high-tech video camera things.
The Associated Press reports that the some self-appointed technology industry experts have called on the US government to spruce up net security. They apparently told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that the world is in the same place it was when cars first appeared on the scene. Eventually the government stepped in and ordered the industry to have safety standards and things like seatbelts. Michael McConnell, a former director of US national intelligence, told the committee that the days when the government could step back and let the industry do what it likes had gone.
But it has been difficult for the US government to come up with legislation that tackles the problem. The Senate panel has been trying for a year to draft legislation that would map out a way the government and private industry could work together to protect critical computer networks, set industry standards and promote more high-tech education and public awareness. The biggest problem is that privacy advocates and others who are alarmed at government controls are effectively forcing voluntary rules on industry. Committee members are into their fourth draft of the law and are finding they can't please anyone.
Meanwhile hackers are already siphoning millions of dollars out of the economy and that critical networks that run the power grid, transportation lines, and nuclear safeguards are all vulnerable to "hacktivists" aimed at striking America, according to government scare-mongers.
The committee chairman, Senator Jay Rockefeller, insists that the government needs to work with private companies simply because they have most of the Internet.
The problem is that most solutions being looked at by governments include surveillance and other backward measures. Governments seem to believe that the only way to unclog the tubes from spam is by opening all the mail and reading it. Obviously this upsets privacy groups. However in the case of snail mail you know what is junk by looking at the envelope.
What governments across the world need to do is go back to the code that built the Internet and start from scratch. It was never designed for what it was doing. It was written to connect a small number of friendly networks together. The addition of other Internet services has just piled more code on top of the original one.
The concept of the Internet works, but the code needs to be redone. This is the basis of such efforts as Internet 2 which were designed to provide a better alternative to the Internet. But no one has sat down with a blank sheet of paper and redesigned the Internet from the ground up with 21st century security, scaling, and bandwidth designs. Or if they have they are not getting the attention of Congress which currently wants more rules. µ
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