Which is the main cyber threat? The violated freedom

Pierluigi Paganini January 20, 2012

In these days we have witnessed the escalation of attacks who took the state of Israel as a target. Groups of hackers have coalesced to express their dissent against the policy government. I mention this case because I consider emblematic the answer provided by the Israeli government officials, they have declared infact that attacks like those suffered will be permanently eradicated in the next few months. In this seraphic response is condensed the essence of the matter I would like to dissect.

The future of Internet

What is the future of the Internet and what actions will be deployed for surveillance and control of the networks by governments to deal with cyber threats more aggressive?
Hard to venture hypotheses about the future of the Internet, the only certainty we have is that internet, as it is now, is seriously questioned.

On the one hand we have the indisputable security requirement of Governments that wish to exercise fine-grained control of their citizens to avoid criminal activities and terrorist acts, on the other hand we have the shared needs of the internet users who claimed his freedom of thought.
The founded fear is the control action could result a real censorship able to suppress dissent in the bud and every manifestation of opposition to government policy. It’s already happened and it still happening.
By the friction of these two requirements that are at odds, a series of movements arisen, the hacktivist, which have in more than one occasion undermined the smooth operation of government insfrastructures and official institutions preventing the delivery of key services. The phenomenon is manifested in all its explosive force just last year that will be remembered for the countless cyber protests that have stopped banking services, news agencies and other critic organisms.

In a scenario already extremely complex and we must consider other two variables completely out of control:

  • Use of the network for attacks perpetrated against enemy nations, or to perform intelligence actions for the information gathering.
  • Actions of organized groups of cyber criminals who continually undermine individuals and companies with the sole purpose of being able to create fraud. The amounts involved are staggering and computer crimes are difficult to detect and too often go unpunished, conditions that favor the appearance orientation toward the criminal cyber space.

Surely the only way to remedy the problems described is the implementation of a series of capillaries control measures that can very quickly be able to identify every action “inconsistent with the ethics of controlled network”. But what we mean by the term “non-conforming”, which hides the dangers that this statement sounds like a razor blade, the sword of censorship.
Analyze each conversation, intercept users each time they are on line, analyze every transaction, in practice check every single user in the name of security.
Are we really willing to sacrifice our privacy? Do we sacrifice the rights for which we fought so much? How we imagine the network of the future? Surely a carrier not no more to freer access, a payment will be required in relation to the services used. This first issue is already perceived as questionable as it introduces discrimination on the right of access to the network.
Therefore obvious that there will be no more rights, but only services that will pay handsomely to compensate the expenses incurred for the maintenance and operation of surveillance systems.

The first hypothesis concerning the possible development of Internet sees a network whose services are provided under strict control of the authorities through the same providers that are in charge to implement the discussed control. The user receiving the services upon payment sacrificing their privacy.

Another possible scenario is rather one for which the same internet meet the monitoring requirements with a radical division into sub-components, “cyber zones”, completely separate from the governance point of view . These cyber zones, independent and autonomous each other are communities built to ensure safe access and efficient services. This time, the paradigm is no longer conceived delivery “services” as above but for “domains of competence”. Expected that it will develop very vertical domains where authorities exert precise control. Divide and conquer!

Of course this are mine , and I hope they remain only mine, fanciful hypothesis of a tired fan of the matter, but the risks are high. Actual Internet model is revealing all its limitations because of the reasons provided. Impossible to predict if ever there will be a real change in its structure, but it is obvious that when this will happen we will be faced with a cultural revolution, the death of a model that has made the history. This transition may trigger new cultural movements that could be a strong force in the search of new and innovative solutions for content sharing within networks with no control. At that point a user may opt for a paid service if interested in a particular matter and he could verticalize his web participation to a particular context (e.g. optabile solution especially for companies).

Models such as those designed, although based on the concept of having to provide security through control, can succumb under the weight of guarantees to offer. Is the new network able to ensure a comprehensive and instantaneous control in order to remove any cyber threat? If the control will fail what are the possible consequences? No doubt it would sanction the premature death of a model that hasn’t withstood the heavy legacy of the beloved Internet 1.0.

In conclusion, what is the main cyber threat to the network of networks? Surely an obsessive search for a security that is not certain, the only certainty is that we have violated our freedom.

Pierluigi Paganini

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