Uncommon Wisdom

Feb 17 2009   8:57PM GMT

Internet security: No easy fix

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

The issue of Internet security, and in fact of computer security overall, has become more difficult through the years, enough to prompt some to ask whether we need a “new Internet” that is less vulnerable.

Stanford’s Clean Slate approach and other academic programs are hoping to answer the question, but the problem is that these approaches are academic; the Internet is here to stay in substantially its current form because it would be too costly to fix it.

That doesn’t mean that security issues can’t be fixed. The biggest problems come from the presumption of anonymity; addressing and identification data on the Internet isn’t authoritative, and so you can’t “trace the call” as reliably as with the PSTN. Much of that could be fixed by requiring ISPs to provide authentic addresses for all packets, but that movement hasn’t made headway in the Internet world.

Thus, we believe this is (unfortunately) much ado about nothing, though there may be some incremental steps suggested by the work.

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