How Real Is Cyber Threat?

Technology is like anything else that can be used for good or for evil purposes.  Many things have dual purposes or even more than just dual purposes, and technology is no exception to this fact.  Perhaps, there is an exception to the rule, but my small brain cannot think up one for the moment.  Anyhow, there are forces in the world that are trying to use technology for evil purposes.  For an example, from nuclear to cyber threats.  Nuclear threat has existed for many decades already, and by now most people know what MAD means.  In this blog post I’m not going to bother with voicing my opinion on nuclear threat.  Instead, I’m going to focus on voicing my opinion on cyber threat.

Lately, we have seen big powers like USA and China accuse each other of cyber warfare.  It’s obvious that it’s hard to know who is doing what in term of hacking one another in the cyberspace.  Nonetheless, I think I know why cyber threat is a growing concern.

On the surface, before we unravel all the layers of onion, we truly cannot see why there are fusses about cyber security.  For some people, they think that cyber threat can be dealt with best cyber security practices and no more than that.  Of course, it’s true that cyber security measures such as installing well known antivirus software and firewall are definitely going to help counter most cyber vulnerabilities.  Nonetheless, there are other cyber vulnerabilities out there that won’t be eliminated by even the most powerful firewall and antivirus programs.  Why?  I think there are some well kept or new cyber vulnerabilities that have not been dealt with, because these cyber vulnerabilities are well kept secrets or too new.  By using these cyber vulnerabilities and better hacking tools, hackers are able to wreck havocs on the cyber networks of the world.

When we peel more layers of the onion off, we can see that cyber security is very important.  How come?  In my opinion, it’s about a digital future where money mainly get create in digital form.  This is the future trend that our present (the world) is heading for.  Of course, if we just rely on cyber networks for communication and not for banking and monetization, then cyber security can only be boiled down to privacy and few other things but not of money matters.  Nonetheless, cyber networks as in the Internet can be used for electronic commerce, banking, and the whole nine yards.  This means cyber security is needing to be taken seriously, otherwise hackers can just waltz in and erase, steal, change, and do whatever else to the digital money that belong to various money matter institutions such as banking, electronic commerce giants, and whatnot.

I can imagine a scenario that a group of powerful hackers that is sponsored by a powerful organization hacks a cyber system of a country to a point that they erase all of the digital money from this country, leaving this country as a bankrupted nation.  Nonetheless, this country can totally create new digital money out of thin air if she wants to, but will this be ethically, legally, and sensibly?  Can such an incident be covered up easily?  After all, we’re living in a globalized world, and transactions are having been done globally all the time; something like this if to rain upon a country will not be easily covered up.

This is why I think cyber security issues are so important nowadays.  Without proper measures to protect cyber networks, the vulnerable Internet can gradually weaken the trust of digital money transactions, leaving countries and everyday people seek out the traditional means of doing transactions.  Perhaps, this is why we’re seeing the prevalence of traditional transactions today.  Cash is one good example of traditional transactions.

When I’m hearing how one country is having difficulty in protecting a state secret from being leaked out through the cyber networks, I think it’s absurd that such a country is connecting her secret networks to the Internet in the first place.  I think each country should keep her state secrets on an Intranet that won’t be connected to the regular Internet.  Furthermore, such a country needs to provide physical protections to her Intranet, because when hacking cannot be done remotely someone ought to waltz into such a network physically so the hacking can be done eventually.  For an example, stealing state secrets with the usage of a thumb drive (USB devices or similar devices).

In summary, I think the fusses about cyber security threat are real.  This is why we are hearing countries complain about being victims to hack attacks and whatnot.  Corporations are also experiencing cyber security issues, because corporate espionage can be done through cyber networks with ease.  Whenever an entity is connecting to the Internet and it doesn’t matter what type of entity that is, cyber security issues become real just like any other important issue that matters.  Of course, if there is a day that we do not rely on the Internet anymore and money transactions do not take place in the Internet, then cyber threat will not be a threat of anything but only a historical fact.

Personal Note:  The advance of encryption is also important, because encryption can be incorporated into various network tools to secure the Internet transactions.  With strong encryption, it’s harder for hackers to decrypt the Internet transactions into plain text, thus preventing important information from being leaked.

Iran Internet Might Inspire Even More Of The Same

The IMP Log: The Very First Message Sent on th...

The IMP Log: The Very First Message Sent on the Internet (Photo credit: FastLizard4)

If it’s true that Iran is separating its Internet from the rest of the world, then it also might be true that we might see something like this to be a common thing in various parts of the world in the near future.  According to the Guardian “The internet in pieces” piece, Iran is creating a giant Intranet.  Nonetheless, I prefer to call Iran’s giant Intranet as Iran Internet since the whole Iran country would be able to use this particular Intranet for everything.  They would use it for banking, e-commerce, news, entertainment, streaming, and you name it.  The list goes on.  Nonetheless, none of the activities that can be done within Iran Internet will be able to share communication with the world Internet (i.e., the Internet which everyone across the globe is using).

The whole idea for Iran to have its very own Internet is to have better control of the flow of the information.  Furthermore, it’s much harder for hackers outside Iran to deploy payloads (i.e., hack exploits/attacks) against Iran’s electronic infrastructure, because I surmise Iran Internet would not have any real physical connection between itself and the world Internet (i.e., the Internet in which everyone across the globe is using).  I also surmise that to retain some communication between Iran Internet and the world Internet, Iran might deploy not one Iran Internet but two or more.  How come?  I surmise Iran might deploy a second Iran Internet which isn’t so isolated from the world Internet to allow Iran’s authorized entities perform electronic transactions with the world.  Then there is a question, how would Iran retain and transfer the information from the exposed Iran Internet to the isolated Iran Internet?  I guess, Iran must have a way to copy information from one network to another without having two networks connect to each other physically.

Why did I say that Iran Internet might become a common thing in the future?  It’s obvious that various parts of the world are totally aware of the dangers of being hacked.  Unlike a regular citizen of a country, a country itself has lot of state secrets to protect, therefore it’s unacceptable for state secrets to be leaked through electronic hacks.  If Iran Internet is a success in term of protecting Iran from state hacks, we might see various countries create state Intranet which separates from citizen Internet.  Nonetheless, some countries might go just as far as how Iran is doing with its own Internet by creating state Internet which encompasses citizen Internet, to isolate many citizens from the world Internet.

The only thing I can think of for any country to build citizen Internet is to control the inflow and outflow of the information that get in and out of a country.  This way, a country can monitor, censor, and regulate the flow of information between a country and the world.  In a way, some countries might have been doing this, already!  Nonetheless, these countries’ approaches to the Internet aren’t extreme as Iran Internet.  These countries employ sophisticated firewall to filter out things that need to be censored, effectively preventing regular citizens to have access to the world and domestic information alike.  Nonetheless, any avid computer user in these countries can totally use a technology known as proxy to bypass any computer network censorship.  When a country adopts Iran Internet strategy, proxy technology might become useless in regarding to allowing computer users to bypass network censorship.  How come?  Isolated Internet (or Iran Internet kind of network) is physically disconnected from the world Internet (i.e., the Internet which everyone is using across the globe).

I think it’s a shame that in our near future, the information age might see the Internet breaks into pieces that segregate from each other.  It’s a possibility since many countries want to protect state secrets and have better control of the information flow that gets in and out of a country.  A polarized Internet of tomorrow will not be the Internet of today, and I fear we might not be able to call such polarized Internet as the Internet.  What’s the point of naming a polarized Internet as the Internet when the main function of the Internet, which is allowing the free flow of information, isn’t possible?  Perhaps, the real Internet of tomorrow only occurs on intermittent basis and under heavy monitoring!

The citizens who live in the countries that employ isolated Internet will not be so informed about the world as much as the people who live in the countries that impose no Internet censorship of whatsoever.  I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing to be more informed about the world, but I think it’s definitely more exciting for someone like me to know more about the world through the lens of the free Internet (i.e., no censorship).  What do you think?

Source:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/23/iran-us-cyber-espionage-intranet

The Vibrance Of The Internet Would Wither Away Starting With SOPA Passes As Law; The Day The Internet Ceases To Exist Is When More Countries Begin To Form Their Own National Intranets

Turkey internet ban protest 2011

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve a feeling that when SOPA becomes law, it encourages not only the United States but many other countries to eventually form each own national Intranet.  Consequently, the Internet that we know so well at this point in time will cease to exist.  Say what?

Wait, let me backtrack a bit to clarify something so you can see where I’m going with this.  So, how come SOPA will encourage the United States and other countries to form each own national Intranet?  SOPA is a bill which disrespects the vibrance of the Internet.  It encourages the breaking up of the Internet since it implies the United States would easily overlook mistakes on shutting down websites of the world by doing it fast and effective at the DNS level.  Nonetheless, we know that even though United Sates can shut down websites of the world through DNS under SOPA, the websites that are being targeted by SOPA can still easily adopt DNS servers outside of the United States and effectively avoid SOPA effect altogether.  Instead of solving problems of piracy, SOPA encourages nations of the world to form their own SOPA.  By forming their own SOPA, each nation of the world will be able to disrupt foreign websites that are doing business within their nation.  As SOPA leads the way to disrespect the vibrance of the Internet, I think more rules and regulations might follow and lead to a point where each nation of the world will have their own national Intranet.

The day the Internet ceases to exist is when more countries begin to form their own national Intranets.  When the Internet ceases to exist, each nation with their own Intranet can be more effective in regulating, tracking, filtering, firewall-ing, and managing the networks within a nation.  What Intranet does is to prevent people from being able to surf for information, knowledge, educational materials, shopping online, and communicating with others from foreign countries other than the nation itself.  E-commerce of today would cease to be the same.  Intranet would only encourage the exchanges of businesses and consumers within a nation only (i.e., preventing the exchanges of businesses and consumers outside the Intranet), because it will not be effective in firewall-ing people if it cannot prevent people from surfing for whatever that are beyond the scope of the Intranet.  I think it’s critical for SOPA to be stopped at all cost, or else the vibrance of the Internet would wither away starting with SOPA passes as law.

What worse is that only the innocent computer users might be affected by a national Intranet.  Technological savvy users might be able to use alternative technology or hack the national Intranet so they can circumvent the restrictions of a national Intranet.  This might prove the point that an Intranet is anti-business, anti-consumer, anti-innovation, and anti-knowledge-exchange (i.e., educational materials to be limitedly shared only within a nation, consequently preventing the people of the world to exchange educational materials with each other.)  I do feel the openness of the Internet must be protected at all cost, or else the vibrance of the Internet would cease to exist and might be too hard to be revived by then!

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