[AI] Fw: Accessible Devices Internet Wakeup Call
pradeepsocialwork at gmail.com
Thu Jun 19 10:47:08 EDT 2008
----- Original Message -----
From: "Parker at Vip conduit" <Vipcomm at mchsi.com>
To: "Accessible Devices" <a-d at accessible-devices.com>
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 7:21 PM
Subject: Accessible Devices Internet Wakeup Call
I believe this article is worth reading.
Victim of its own success
Life without the internet is unimaginable for the millions who use it every
But one of the world's leading academics on the impact of the net warns we
be facing its destruction.
It is 20 years since the first incident of hacking. A student at Cornell
launched a worm that within a day had compromised an estimated 5-10% of all
That was in 1988, when there were about 60,000 computers connected to the
The 23-year-old student responsible, Robert Tappan Morris, was given a
three years probation and 400 hours of community service. He is now a
MIT and worth millions of dollars after selling a dot com company to Yahoo.
We have absolutely seen the drug trade equivalent
Professor Jonathan Zittrain
But he was the first of a generation of hackers, who by and large subscribed
idea "do no harm".
Hacking has changed and the public have not adjusted their PC's security to
of viruses, spam, worms, phishing and fraud. It is estimated that the number
involved in botnets (networks of infected machines open to instruction by
of the code which infected them) is 100-150m, or a quarter of all PCs on the
as of early 2007.
Bad code used to be like graffiti; it is now like the drug trade, argues
Zittrain, professor of internet governance at the Oxford Internet Institute.
the internet is fragile - and on the path to destruction.
Prof Zittrain, who is also the author of The Future Of The Internet And How
It, says that from 1998, hacking exploded. It is now all about making money.
"We have absolutely seen the drug trade equivalent: the business model for
these machines either to steal their bandwidth and their processor power and
it to the highest bidder to direct those machines to all try to load a
at once to bring down that website, or we've started to see both the use of
zombie machines to send spam and to harvest personal details off those
Losses from online credit card fraud alone totalled £212m in 2007, up 15% on
It is the web's very success - what Prof Zittrain calls its uncontrolled
(anyone can write or share programmes designed to do virtually anything they
to) - that he warns is also its Achilles' heel. And we are rapidly
The end may come as the weight of malicious code forces us into either a
internet or what he calls "sterile" technology like the iPhone.
"When you have a machine called the generic personal computer - your
laptop - and
it can wonderfully run any code you give it and the maker of the laptop has
to say about it that is also a real vulnerability," he explains.
That openness, that glorious interactivity and creativity, has its own
With billions of people online, many of whom do not protect themselves
PCs are open to entertaining new software that immediately hands the keys to
kingdom to someone else.
"And then you get into a realm where I worry that the cure will be as bad as
problem," he says.
Cure for malware?
One version of that "cure", he believes, is the iPhone, created by Apple.
the internet, the i-Phone is a proprietorial network. It may be beautifully
but there is no way for an owner to write their own, or add other people's
to it without Apple's express permission. And while that protects the
the system from bad code - or malware - it also hands control to a large
The other option, according to Professor Zittrain, is to decide this
experiment called the internet was glorious while it lasted, but now it
be locked down. The need for stability is growing, he says.
As Prof Zittrain writes in the magazine Prospect, the internet has grown
over the past 20 years, thanks to the fact that many people can build a
and share what they do with others. But a lockdown on PCs "will eliminate
what today we take for granted: a world in which mainstream technology can
even revolutionised out of left field".
A solution will have to be found that does not destroy the whole system. And
have to be one that does not destroy the creativity and openness that made
such an enormous success in the first place.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/06/17 05:25:28 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
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