*Reality Check: Why We Can’t Make the Internet Secure

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Looking at the global state of the Internet as it is today, it just might be as good as it gets unless governments decide on uniform, global standards. Historically the Internet has been viewed as a “hands-off’ system where information and access has been available to everyone with a connection.

That has, of course, led us to the point where different governments have enacted their own rules and laws governing access and use. Many oppressive governments have very strict rules on the use of internet access. Other governments seem to have a ‘wild west’ attitude about it.

And sadly, there are some locations in the world that don’t even have access. Heck, there are still places in the world that don’t have telephone or television service.

Yes, there are still technical issues at work, from state-monitored access in some countries, to blazing fast speed in some countries, and spotty and undependable access in others.

Even if we were able to solve the technical and access issues, we’ll still end up running in place.

It’s tough to get a comprehensive global agreement

Have you ever gotten total agreement on a single issue with your immediate family? Mine neither. At best we get some sort of compromise from the adults and a vocal, “what-ever’, from the kids.

Now think about trying to get the entire world to agree on how to fix Internet security, particularly when most of the Internet was created and deployed before it went global.

According to Roger Grimes at InfoWorld, “Over the last two decades, just about every major update to the internet we’ve proposed to the world has been shot down. We get small fixes, but nothing big. We’ve seen moderate, incremental improvement in a few places, such as better authentication or digital certificate revocation, but even that requires leadership by a giant like Google or Microsoft. Those updates only apply to those who choose to participate — and they still take years to implement.”

Most of the internet’s underlying protocols and participants are completely voluntary. That’s its beauty and its curse. These protocols have become so widely popular, they’re de facto standards. Think about using the Internet without DNS.

Imagine having a handful of international bodies develop, review and approve the major protocols and rules that allow the internet to function as it does today. To that list you should add vendors who make the software and devices that run on and connect to the Internet.

How many global agreements are really global anyway? Heck, governments can’t even agree if climate change is natural or man-made, or even if it’s really the same as global warming, when just 40 years ago people were worried about global cooling. Politics by it’s very nature crafts the message to suit it’s purpose.

Governments don’t want internet security

Grimes also says, “If there is one thing all governments agree on, it’s that they want the ability to bypass people’s privacy whenever and wherever the need arises. Even with laws in place to limit privacy breaches, governments routinely and without fear of punishment violate protective statutes.”

To really improve internet security, we’d have to make every communication stream encrypted and signed by default. But they would be invisible to governments, too. That’s just not going to happen. Governments want to continue to have unfettered access to your private communications.

Democratic governments are supposedly run by the people for the people. But even in countries where that’s the rule of law, it isn’t true. All governments invade privacy in the name of protection. That genie will never be put back in the bottle. The people lost … Big Brother won.

But is security really possible?

The only way Internet security can actually be improved is if a global tipping-point disaster occurs, and allows us to obtain shared, broad agreement. Citizen outrage and agreement would have to be so strong, it would override the objections of government. Nothing else is likely to work.

Be Safe – Backup Your Data Regularly!


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