The Responsible Internet – Time for Action!
“There are two equalizers in life: the Internet and education”. I remember this famous John Chambers quote from the 1990s. Since then the Internet has provided a platform for businesses to address global markets. In fact, it has become the number one source of knowledge that is accessible to all.
The Internet has also removed all physical constraints; we can communicate with people around the globe, exchanging ideas and sharing experiences.
The downside? It has also opened many new opportunities for criminals! As the FBI points out: “You don’t have to be walking down a dark alley at night to be at risk, and anyone can become a victim from the comfort of their own home”. Regrettably the Internet has become the preferred method of predators to prey on the young and the innocent. The reason is clear: the internet makes it easy to masquerade since anyone can hide their true identity in cyberspace. The dark side of Internet varies from cyberbullying, shaming and scams to ransomware and denial of service (DDoS) attacks.
Bruce Schneier wrote in his article “Home Users: A Public Health Problem?” that as computers get smarter and users get savvier, the next generation of attack tools will also become more complex. Home users will never be truly protected since they simply don’t know how to handle this.
The internet is a utility we expect to be accessible and satisfy our needs, just as we expect our water to be clean to drink and use and our electrical power to have a constant voltage rating. Why should we not expect a similar clean service from our Internet Service Providers?
Well, some of them (e.g., Vodafone) do just that by providing easy-to-use-tools for parental control and anti-malware, but many other CSPs don’t. More the pity, since it provides great value-added services to apply and administer.
How I see it, any law that enforces ISPs to block malware will be well-received, similar to legislation regulating the removal of harmful substances from our water supply.
There are also many generally accepted laws and initiatives, such as the safe city, that apply in the physical world and are there to provide public security. Why not the same in cyberspace where there are no technological limitations to do so? We all accept the fact that to purchase alcohol, or to enter a casino or strip club, one has to show a valid ID. Why doesn’t the same apply for accessing certain categories of websites? In other words, a user should be denied access until proven that he/she is an adult.
This type of enforcement could be based on electronic identification and biometric databases that are starting to gain momentum, combined with the use of biometric identification on smartphones, laptops and tablets. This would be the equivalent of presenting an ID in the physical world. In addition, proof of identity could also apply to other forms of communication, such as chat and messaging, which would make the Internet a tougher place for predators and cybercrooks to hang out. We could limit communications between adults and children under a certain age, except for a parent-approved white list of teachers and adult relatives. Although this would require extra investments, it’s the only way to go! Just as there is no opt-out option for paying taxes (which are also used to pay for law enforcement and other national security services and initiatives), there should also not be an opt-out option for securing the Internet.
The World Wide Web was born in the early 1990s and has gone through some radical changes and developments similar to the human being going through puberty and being a rebellious teenager. Now entering its twenties, it’s time to grow up and take responsibility!
Want to learn more about the increasing online security challenges? Want to find out how CSPs can profitably address these needs by delivering SECaaS (Security-as-a-Service) to their consumers? Allot’s MobileTrends ReportH1/2015 “Mobile Internet Security Services as a Revenue Generator” will provide the answers.