Being trained in Information Assurance and the protection of military computer network infrastructure, I believe that Cyber-Security remains the most significant influencer of global affairs in 2017 and beyond. I recently co-authored an article entitled A New Dimension of War: Command and Control in Cyberspace, which was published and distributed internationally to the NATO audience. Thankfully I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to present the piece in Tallinn, Estonia at the C2 Center of Excellence seminar. The article elevated cyberspace beyond a mere collection of wires, routers, and switches; cyberspace is now a battleground that can cause real destruction for mankind. Due to the critical status sharing and processing information has on governmental, private, and public functions, virtual attacks can render similar amounts of damage as traditional kinetic attacks. There are even documented cases where hackers were able to override safety mechanisms within electrical equipment causing them to explode violently.
In recent news ISIS leaked 100 names, pictures, and addresses of military members while urging lone wolf supporters of terror to attack these individuals. Reportedly, military wives who were home alone while their spouses deployed were afraid for their lives. It’s clear that the Internet in its current form is analogous to the Wild West of the 1800s. Anyone can do just about anything without fear of repercussions. I’ve often joked that the “www” in a website’s web address stands for “Wild West of the Web” as within minutes a complete fake online profile can be created and used for nefarious reasons ranging from cyber bullying to hacking to sexual predatory crimes. Ironically, there’s a place even worse than the Wild West of the Web and it’s called the Dark Web. Zero identities are real on the Dark Web, and for good reason. It’s an Internet where 99% of all transactions are morally bankrupt, to include the sale child pornography, human sex slavery, and sale of computer viruses that hackers use to infiltrate bank accounts.
I see a future not too far away where we as humans will be biologically connected to the Internet. Smartphones and keyboards are primitive interfaces as they force users to touch them the same way a caveman touched walls when painting thoughts. There will be a time when physical interaction will no longer be needed and the power of thought will be the only interaction required to experience all that the internet has to offer. For current as well as future Internet technology to be safely used, however, it’s important that we design an Internet that primarily supports safety of its users against other users, viruses, and failures.
I‘ve coined the Internet of the future as the Light Web, as all transactions on this network will be transparent and driven by traceable, non-repudiated identities. In other words, the only way to get onto the Light Web is to first identify oneself with multiple sources such as an identification card, PIN, biometrics, DNA, etc. Every transaction would be logged, tracked and traceable to an identified person, to include all emails, comments, blogs, banking, uploads, downloads, pings, etc. Just as each person is required to always carry an ID card in the physical world, the same will apply for the Light Web where every online user is a real, identified person.
Anyone who questions the “realness” of the Internet and virtual worlds should sit and chat with the mother of the cyber bullied son who took his own life, or the military wife who hasn’t slept in 3 days because she fears an ISIS attack, or the person whose bank account was emptied after becoming a victim of identity theft. As paradoxical as it may sound, the virtual world is a real place that can either create peace or breed destruction for mankind, which is why I believe the topic of Cyber Security will remain at the forefront of global issues.