An editorial comment from Chicago Tribune, July 4, 2005:
In the beginning, the Internet was an experiment among a small group
of government scientists and military folks who all seemed to know
each other. They were friendly. Then the doors were thrown open to the
public, and millions revved their engines and zoomed onto the Internet
superhighway. All these technological pioneers marveled at the clever
new ways to share information, find out stuff, buy things and connect
with others who have common interests.
Unowned and virtually unregulated, the Internet functioned for a few
years in the mid-1990s under self-governance, a certain
live-free-or-die ethic of community responsibility. Most people were
still friendly. The Internet's original design rested on the premise
that all these new Netizens would be as law-abiding and conscientious
in the privacy of their home offices as they would be strolling
through a public park.
But even savvy computer users aren't monolithic. Some have a
In came the hackers, the viruses, worms, spyware, phishing, and spam;
the purveyors of pharmaceuticals and porn sites; and Nairobi bank
presidents and generals promising to wire millions of dollars into
your bank if you'd kindly give them your account number.
According to a Washington Post report last weekend, Carnegie Mellon
University CERT Coordination Center logged 3,780 new computer security
vulnerabilities in 2004. In 2000 the center logged 1,090. In 1995, it
was just 171.
Weeks ago, in one of the largest security breaches of the Internet to
date, MasterCard International revealed that more than 40 million
credit card numbers had been exposed to hackers and potential fraud.
"The Internet is stuck in the flower-power days of the 1960s during
which people thought the world would be beautiful if you are just
nice," computer scientist Karl Auerbach told the Post. Formerly with
Cisco Systems Inc., Auerbach now volunteers with engineering groups to
try to improve the Internet. Auerbach is part of a handful of groups
now looking into whether the entire Internet needs an overhaul, or, in
Web-speak, a Version 2.0.
What the existence of those groups tacitly acknowledges is that too
many people aren't just nice. With more than a billion Internet users
across the globe, and nearly everyone who surfs it vulnerable to
hazards, a structural overhaul is not an outlandish idea.
Copyright 2005, Chicago Tribune
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