Will the Internet be our downfall?

Feb 26, 2013

Is the convenience of the Internet worth the potential chaos it can cause? 

On this month’s edition of The Digital Future, Strategic News Service publisher Mark Anderson and KPLU’s Dave Meyer look at the dark side of our online world.

Twenty years ago, the Internet was a technological novelty.

Today, it's hard to imagine life without it. Facebook has a billion users. Most of us pay bills and bank online. Many of us telecommute via computers, tablets and smartphones.

The Internet is a complex system being used in ways that weren't imagined at its inception. And that makes it vulnerable to abuse.

ID theft is rampant. Data breaches are commonplace. Criminals are constantly trying to gain access to our online credit and bank accounts. The latest news reports of cyber attacks from China are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Internet is Pandora's box and we've unleashed chaos into the world. 

Will hackers someday bring down the power grid, crash the banking system or cause a nuclear meltdown?

If you think those fears are unrealistic, just look at the Stuxnet worm that was aimed at Iran's nuclear facilities.

How can we defend ourselves?

Mark thinks the best bet is to offer a moving target. The Internet is vulnerable because it is a complex and stable system. A system hackers can learn to exploit, and they've had decades to study it.

Attackers can be thwarted if you keep changing the rules. Periodically alter the way the Internet works, and hackers will have to start over from scratch in finding ways to abuse the system.

That may be costly and difficult to do but, as Mark says, "difficult is better than failure."