The Future of Internet Security in Five Years

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The internet is inherently unpredictable and security issues related to the internet are equally difficult to foresee. Various aspects of the internet can be predicted, however, by examining the critical path that must be followed in order to achieve required functionality. By doing so the landscape of security can be brought into focus as the perpetual arms race of attackers and defenders continues.

This article will apply forecasting methods and examples of current security and privacy issues. Current trends in cloud services, the Edward Snowden leaks and overall organizational structure will all be major factors in security and how the internet evolves. Establishing general criteria for each of these topics will determine what changes and what will largely stay the same. Attempting to predict specific technical vulnerabilities may be insufficient is such a dynamic landscape. An ecosystems approach, involving aspects of the digital and non-digital world, will provide a more effective foundation for internet security in the next five years and beyond.

Cloud Computing

Greater bandwidth has provided a shift in how computing and the internet is used to get things done. Various as-a-service solutions, while not new, are transforming the internet from a static bulletin board to a dynamic, customized entity. These types of virtualization present new problems and opportunities to find and exploit vulnerabilities in a way that has not been seen before. Cloud services allow enterprises and individuals to use a more suitable maintenance regimen. This is why in the next five years cloud computing will make up a large portion of internet traffic. The potential to exploit data being pushed in the cloud will be significant because financial information, industrial secrets and the military all stand to benefit greatly from cloud computing. The large cloud service providers depend on trust from their clients beyond all else. Offering greater privacy will insure their continued existence in this arena.

The Snowden Effect

The documents leaked by Snowden has caused a serious discussion about security and privacy. In many areas the trade off between privacy and security is directly at odds. The changes brought about by the Snowden effect, right or wrong, will remain largely political. The threat of terrorism will still be at sufficient levels to warrant domestic surveillance on some level. In the next five years greater transparency and collaboration will be necessary. As threats emerge from disparate sources a central body will be needed to certify various applications for optimum security. The NSA probably performs such research currently but does not share the information. Enhanced collaboration would establish greater security for all internet users and allow for politically acceptable anti-terrorism activities at the same time. This can already been seen in other agencies such as the CIA using Amazon’s cloud computing services worth $600 million dollars.

The Security Ecosystem

Identifying and exploiting a vulnerability involves scanning the landscape of all information related to a particular system. These weak signals are cognitively distant to most people or organizations and therefore go undetected. A proper organizational structure is necessary to avoid group think and allow the greatest chances of recognizing a growing problem. Many security breeches recently, such as the Target breech and the Snowden leaks, did not involve a single technical vulnerability. Rather various aspects such as physiological factors, organizational stove-piping and digital attack vectors all played a part. Snowden, by some reports, simply tricked people into giving him their passwords and did not “hack” the system to gain access to sensitive files. The growing complexity of the internet necessitates more forward looking activities to rapidly adapt to such an environment. Organizations with a highly collaborative structure will enable greater creative thought and therefore have the most advantageous position in the next five years.

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