The Internet gets serious..

Discussion in 'other security issues & news' started by Paul Wilders, Jun 20, 2002.

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  1. Paul Wilders

    Paul Wilders Administrator

    Jul 1, 2001
    The Netherlands
    Maybe the Internet thrill isn't gone, but is that it over there pulling on its jacket and heading for the door?

    The Net promised to let consumers read everything, hear everything, play anything. Any David with a computer could elbow aside the most gargantuan Goliath. No matter the question, the answer was yes, sure, it's possible, do it.

    Today, the Internet is messy, dangerous ground. Viruses and system break-ins are on the rise, while vested interests battle over what isn't allowed.

    Millions of corporate dollars are fueling a fight to control what consumers can view or listen to, how many times, in what format and over what type of connection. Lawyers are suing, lobbyists are lobbying and policymakers are grasping to figure out what role government should play.

    Similarly, governments and industry are pouring millions into protecting computer systems and networks from attacks, whether they be by terrorists or simply mischievous hackers.

    These two issues -- making computing safe and determining rights to digital content -- dominate the technology world, experts say. Left unsolved, they threaten to further stunt the development of a U.S. technology industry already hobbled by the bursting of the Internet stock bubble in 2000.

    Other issues remain contentious and important to many consumers, such as balancing individual privacy against government surveillance needs, censorship, unwanted e-mail and how to create more competition for high-speed Internet access. Numerous bills continue to make the rounds on Capitol Hill on these issues, often without consensus.

    But computer security and digital rights are so vexing because their solutions seek to protect technology from itself. How does one make computer systems secure from code writers whose goal is to defeat such security? And how does one protect digital content when technology, by its nature, encourages copying?

    The challenge for policymakers is great. Not only are industries often at war, but even the engineers sometimes disagree on solutions.

    Systems Under Siege
    Take security. By any measure, attacks on computers are growing dramatically.

    According to statistics compiled by the CERT Coordination Center of the Software Engineering Institute, a government contractor, the number of reported attacks of business and government computers worldwide has doubled each year since 2000. In the first quarter of this year, CERT logged 26,829 incidents, but experts say such voluntary reporting mechanisms underestimate the events.

    A survey conducted by the Computer Security Institute and the FBI reported that losses from computer and virus outbreaks in a 12-month period spanning 2001 and 2002 totaled $49.97 million. Other company surveys pinpoint the number at $12 billion.

    Exacerbating the problem is that the world is increasingly connected through a growing system of networks that are interdependent, thus enhancing their vulnerabilities.

    At Microsoft Corp., safer computing has become so important that Chairman Bill Gates made it the company's top priority at the beginning of the year, above development of new features and services. He said the future of the company and the industry depends on it.

    But Gates has a different view of how to best achieve computer security than others in the technology community.

    Many security experts argue that the government should make greater use of "open source" software, in which the code of the system is available to be enhanced. Under this theory, if the code is exposed, potential flaws can be quickly discovered by the community of users who are in effect all working together. And the users of the system can make fixes to the software in the event of a problem.

    Microsoft, a major supplier of software to the government, has argued that systems are more secure when the underlying code is kept private, accessible only by Microsoft engineers. The company has been lobbying federal agencies not to use some open-source software, based in part on security grounds.

    Eugene Spafford, a security expert at Purdue University who does not share Microsoft's view, argues that governments at least need to more aggressively factor in security when making procurement decisions. The federal government is beginning to grapple with the issue, putting in place a certification program for testing hardware. The government is supposed to acquire systems only if they are in the pipeline for testing before July 1.

    The government also is studying whether to create a separate Internet-like network for critical systems.

    Copying or Theft?
    The more public and noisy battle is over digital rights and the fundamental question of ownership of creative works. Nothing has been challenged more by the Internet.

    Imagine if everyone could see, at the push of a button, what was in your music collection. And with another push of a button, you could share it. That was the idea behind Napster, the technology that turned the Internet into a giant database of digital songs that could be swapped among users, thus obviating the need for many people to go purchase music.

    At its peak, Napster had 50 million registered users, and it helped drive up demand for high-speed Internet connections as people sought faster and faster downloads. But the music industry went to court and got the service shut down.

    In the industry's view, anyone who copies music files without paying for them is a thief. The movie industry has taken the same view and is refusing to release most movies online until it can ensure that a user cannot copy the file and send it to a thousand of his friends.

    To date, the entertainment industry has had Congress, and the courts, on its side. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed in 1998, not only secures digital copyrights but also prohibits the publication of information on how to defeat technology that protects it.

    Since Napster's demise, other services have sprung up and continue to flourish, prompting still more legal action by the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.

    More recently, the movie industry has been pushing legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), that would establish technical standards for preventing copying of digital videos. The industry already has been experimenting with DVDs that freeze computers if users attempt to copy the videos.

    The bill has been sharply attacked by the technology industry, in what has been dubbed the copyright war between Silicon Valley and Hollywood. The tech industry says it agrees that copies should be paid for but wants any technological solution to develop in the marketplace, not from Congress. Many believe the bill stands little chance of passing in its current form.

    In truth, the tech industry needs Napster-like services to jump-start demand for broadband access, which in turn would lead to purchases of new software and hardware.

    Critics of the entertainment industry argue that it is simply clinging to a business model that is no longer viable and needs to adjust to new technologies.

    By fiercely guarding against mass distribution of copyrighted work, the entertainment industry is failing to allow for "fair use" copying, such as putting a music file on an MP3 player so it can be played in a car, opponents say.

    But the industry's problem may be deeper. Internet researchers say that many users, especially younger ones, simply don't care about copyright.

    Lee Rainie, head of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, said that recent research shows more than 60 percent of respondents show no concern for digital rights.

    "They are really into the peer-to-peer aspect, with no inhibition," Rainie said. "They are anxious to find what they want."

    Copyright's Limits
    Meanwhile, a group of legal academics and consumer activists has been fighting on another front, arguing that Congress's repeated extensions of copyright terms is unconstitutional. The group, led by Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig, won a stunning victory recently when the Supreme Court agreed to hear their challenge to the most recent extension.

    Arguments are scheduled for October. If Lessig's team prevails, hundreds of copyrighted works, including Disney's Mickey Mouse, would become available in the public domain.

    The purpose of copyright law, Lessig believes, is to spur innovation and creative work by providing short-term protection to the copyright holder. But protection in perpetuity defeats that purpose, preventing artistic works from springing from existing works.

    So far, the entertainment industry's clout in Congress has been strong. But Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) is among a handful of legislators who believe that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act needs to be amended to give more protection for fair-use rights.

    "What we are now seeing in the policy sphere is . . . an effort on the part of the content community to exercise an unwarranted amount of control," Boucher says.

    Others argue that the entertainment industry simply needs to find a business model that works in the digital environment.

    "Everyone believes they are entitled to at least as much money as they made before," said Bill Raduchel, chief technology officer of AOL Time Warner Inc., which is in an especially tricky position as both an Internet company and a movie studio. "Everyone wants someone else to take the haircut."


  2. Mr.Blaze

    Mr.Blaze The Newbie Welcome Wagon

    Feb 3, 2003
    on the sofa
    will paul the problem is when the internet was created it was for free information across all platforms but because we allowed the goverment to intervien we are now being policed in cyber space.

    If you relly relly want to screw them chip in buy a rushin satlite put your servers on a 3rd world non extra treaty country and offer 5 dollar internet service with no help suport just simple cheap acess

    since thee servers are in a 3rd world non extra treaty contry no one can touch you or your clients just like legal gambling in the tropical islands where gambling on line is legal even if your from usa.

    just cause something is illigal in usa dosent make it so for the rest of the world.

    basicly you be telling the usa and gorge bush to f off and ypou cant be touched
  3. controler

    controler Guest

    The Russian can hardley buy food let alone host internet access LOL
    You can still get awesome looking brides from there though.

    If I remember correct the NSA is world wide and tied to the British for one.
    Now I am going to go look at the NSA post I just saw here ;)
  4. root

    root Registered Member

    Feb 19, 2002
    Missouri, USA
    I wasn't going to reply to this post because it could get real nasty if people start getting into the ins and outs of who is right and who is wrong when it comes to copyrights, ownership, etc.
    I think most people on this board know where I stand on this and I am sure many don't share my views. In case you don't know, my sympathies lie with the people, not with business.
    I just want to say, if governments don't start taking a realistic approach to ownership, personal rights and freedoms, and copyright infringment as it applies to the internet, the problem is only going to get worse, not better.
    When it comes down to who's rights need to be protected, the peoples rights or the BSA, RIAA, M$, or whatever big business, congress has, up to now, always sided with business. This needs to be tempered with some common sense and the primary rights of the individual needs to be protected. In a Republic, it is the rights of the individual that are paramount. The US of A is a Republic, much to the dismay of the majority of Congress.
    Please remember, the laws about such stuff that are being passed by the US Congress affect the rest of the world. That means you.
    This is an excellent article Paul. I wish it would open the eyes of a lot of people, but too many people like to keep their eyes shut, as the light hurts their eyes.
  5. Prince_Serendip

    Prince_Serendip Registered Member

    Apr 8, 2002
    :) I agree with you root! (Please refer to my posting at "Developers Worried, Web too controled...")

    Words of wisdom...The Light does not hurt your eyes if you are a Light!

    One of my colleagues has this sign above his desk,
    Never give up, my friend! Be it true, whatever we choose to do, it can be done! Thank you!

    UNICRON Technical Expert

    Feb 14, 2002
    Nanaimo BC Canada
    Since copyrights were invented to offer short term protection against competition to companies who developed a new product and therefore increase innovation, copyrights are a good thing when used correctly.

    Allowing corporations to price-fix for decades is not in the spirit of the original intention. The music business is upset about mp3 trading when they have been fixing prices well about normal profit levels, and hide behind ever increasing copyright laws. Some say they brought this on themselves.
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