ISNow – Protecting the Internet

The following introduction was originally published in the BCS Information Security Now Magazine, Summer 2010 issue (Volume 4, Issue 4), which was on the topic of Protecting the Internet:

“The internet is a wonderful thing; putting knowledge at our fingertips, enabling instant communication and helping us target new customers more effectively. As with everything, it comes at a cost –
from technical exclusion through to new online threats and vulnerabilities, which have the capability of affecting our life and business.

Problems, like hacking, viruses, spam and scams become more prevalent and merge into things like phishing and online identity fraud. Users need to learn and do more to stay safe, and governments need to focus more on the virtual world, which may be outside their direct control, to ensure that the benefits of the internet are fully realised.

Control issues
Some governments feel that the right approach is to try and control the internet and its users, from limiting what they can say to blocking content they object to. In reality, much of this control does little to protect people from the real security threats out there; national ‘firewalls’ are not for security, and protecting citizens from ‘outside threats’ is a convenient excuse for control.

Big business
‘Three-strikes’ style sanctions and disproportionate financial penalties for civil infringements say more about the undue influence of big business on the legal system than a real desire to move with the internet times, to protect both users and artists.

At least the UK Government isn’t currently proposing to take over the internet in an emergency, as they are in the US. Protecting the internet comes best from educating users, businesses and government and for them to come together to create balanced workable solutions.”

A PDF version of the magazine is available online at:

http://www.bcs.org/upload/pdf/isnow-summer10.pdf