The Utopia of Free Internet is a pipe dream. And strong measures will be required to safeguard Internet as a whole.
Even With American congress currently wading through the political details of CISPA, the much maligned, privacy-killing “Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act” neeeds aa second look. With more and most of our lives being lived out on the internet, it is slowly becoming apparent that the internet can no longer be considered the high-tech playground that everyone once thought it was. The choice is between Privacy friendly anarchy and a disciplined approach to a portal where an amazing amount of our lives is to be lived through.
So, with the danger posed on both sides of the cyber-hacker war, is the internet bearing witness to an internet cyber-détente – the CISPA?
We have all known directly, about the effects of cyber-hackers. They can do anything from changing high school grades, to turning off street lights, to stealing hundreds of thousands of social security numbers from websites. But little did many of us realize just how dangerous these hacking activities could become. An hour on internet with a good Anti-Virus machine pops out 20 or 30 malicious attacks on the machine.
Back in June 2010, it was discovered that a computer worm known as Stuxnet was unleashed upon an Iranian nuclear facility, with the apparent intent of damaging or destroying that facility’s network infrastructure by targeting very specific networked industrial equipment (in this case, Siemens Industrial Programmable Logic Controllers). Apparently the “attack” did what was intended, forcing the Iranian government to seriously consider putting in place additional cyber-protections to prevent further infections. This even led to the government physically disconnecting many of it’s high priority oil well facilities from the internet altogether.
But even with all of the potential physical damage that can be caused by cyber-hackers, there is a virtual world, the internet itself, that is at risk of total annihilation. That’s right — total and complete virtual annihilation.
Imagine for a second, a scenario where groups of cyber-hackers wage all out war online. Using infected code, their targets include companies, then websites, and then eventually servers themselves. Imagine all of the world’s largest servers, those that make up the backbone of the internet as we know it, being laid waste by continuous cyber-attacks, until the internet becomes a virtual wasteland. Don’t think this can happen? The irony is that Hollywood is not that far-fetched.
This brings about the inevitable idea, that with all of the cyber-firepower that exists around the world — viruses, hackers, worms, trojan horses, the list goes on — the internet can easily be presented with a situation where the war becomes a no-win scenario. A cyber-détente, where both sides realize that the outcome will be total destruction, based on an all-or-nothing form of warfare.
It will be interesting to see where CISPA will take the debate on individual privacy-versus-cyber security. One can only hope that the discussion will protect the internet from a virtual brink of destruction, and keep cyberspace safe for everyone.
Privacy issues aside, there always is a maning to the adage when it is said – “If you want peace, prepare for war”.