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The Internet Security Spam Worms

Vint Cerf Says It's Every Machine For Itself 82

Posted by timothy
from the and-works-for-google dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian has an interesting story on Vint Cerf, the 'father of the internet,' in which he says there's no silver bullet for scammers, spammers and criminals running zombie networks and porn-to-porn file swapping because 'the internet was designed that way.' Cerf adds, 'Like every medium, the internet can be abused. When we think about it, we can commit fraud locally and internationally using the telephone system and postal service.' However, Cerf is also convinced that it's the internet's openness — in allowing people with new ideas to do their thing without getting anyone's permission — that is the main source of its power, and he is against the idea of a two-tier internet with a trusted, controlled 'overnet' for commercial and business use, and an 'undernet' where anything goes. 'My bias right now tends to be "It's every man for himself" — you need to be suspicious whether you're inside the trusted cloud or not, and when it fails, the house of cards tends to collapse.'"
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Vint Cerf Says It's Every Machine For Itself

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Or has he already crossed that line?! It would explain soooo much.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:05PM (#25225541) Journal

    The internet isn't totally free, never was, and never will be.

    When corporations have a firewall, they are creating a "gated community" where they provide additional restrictions on acceptable behavior in order to create a more predictable environment. This is OK, this is normal, and this is the "Overnet" that the summary speaks of.

    This is *always* the case. In my household, we follow additional rules of the household that aren't required on the street. My house is, therefore, a sort of "gated community" where not "anything goes". This is human nature, and will apply to virtually any product with wide acceptance.

    Firewalls, NAT, differing connection speeds, and many other factors provide different Internet "neighborhoods" with different rules of acceptability and feasibility. You don't want youtube videos on a 19.2 Kbps modem. You don't play 1st person shooters over a satellite internet connection, no matter how "fast" it is. You don't do virus research at work. You don't host a bank of servers on your home DSL connection.

    All of these are limitations. Get used to it.

    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:12PM (#25225611)
      Your reply is somewhat akin to someone saying that we should keep free speech since it's a net positive, and you replying that free speech doesn't exist because you don't allow your children to swear. He's arguing that we need to avoid systemic overnets and undernets. Roping off your own network with different rules doesn't have anything to do with TFA.

      TFA wants to avoid having these things built into the entire internet from end to end, which is what some people say we need. Patchwork restrictions and rules are to be expected and encouraged where appropriate, but having it built in from end to end is what we're talking about.
      • by TheLink (130905)
        "TFA wants to avoid having these things built into the entire internet from end to end"

        In a way it's already built in, you might only start to notice it once we run out of IPv4 addresses. Only an elite 4+ billion are peers.

        Then you'll see who really gets to distribute media.
    • Good points you make, but I wouldn't say that is the same thing as the two-tier internet. Those are individual business and personal decisions.

      Those communities don't change the internet in anyway for the rest of us. If I choose to not have internet at all, am I then creating another 'gated' community?
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You do realize Vint Cerf is referring directly to the Net Neutrality debate, right?

      I would hope the description of a tiered Internet would make that apparent.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You don't host a bank of servers on your home DSL connection.

      Speak for yourself!

    • quite the contrary, are the streets less "free" because we have some places that are stores, some are houses, Some are bars, some are parks, etc. As long as in the public street you obey the least common decency nobody bothers you from place to place and you move more or less freely. The Internet is like the highway system. Once you are on it, you can go where ever you want.

      Network speeds are akin to automobiles.. you have to meet a minimum auto requirement to travel on highways... you need different requ

    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      You don't play 1st person shooters over a satellite internet connection, no matter how "fast" it is.

      I beg to differ.

      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        Altho I'll admit, it is crap.

      • by grub (11606)

        Are you that dude from Alaska I play against on SnipersParadise? Seriously, there's one guy (forget his nick, been a few weeks) and he has >1000 ms pings. Gotta give it to him for tenacity.
    • by xorsyst (1279232)

      The internet isn't totally free, never was, and never will be.

      When corporations have a firewall, they are creating a "gated community" where they provide additional restrictions on acceptable behavior in order to create a more predictable environment. This is OK, this is normal, and this is the "Overnet" that the summary speaks of.

      This is *always* the case. In my household, we follow additional rules of the household that aren't required on the street. My house is, therefore, a sort of "gated community" where not "anything goes". This is human nature, and will apply to virtually any product with wide acceptance.

      Firewalls, NAT, differing connection speeds, and many other factors provide different Internet "neighborhoods" with different rules of acceptability and feasibility. You don't want youtube videos on a 19.2 Kbps modem. You don't play 1st person shooters over a satellite internet connection, no matter how "fast" it is. You don't do virus research at work. You don't host a bank of servers on your home DSL connection.

      All of these are limitations. Get used to it.

    • When corporations have a firewall, they are creating a "gated community" where they provide additional restrictions on acceptable behavior in order to create a more predictable environment.

      Said environment is not "the Internet", though.

      The internet isn't totally free, never was, and never will be.

      You might be right about the "will not be" part but currently, the Internet is, in general terms, totally free.

  • Gated Communities (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dolo666 (195584) *

    Both Heaven and Hell have gates. Not sure which one I'd prefer. Have to let you know.

  • by solafide (845228) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:11PM (#25225601) Homepage
    What's porn-to-porn fileswapping? We know what the submitter had on his mind.
  • by hampton (209113)

    What's porn-to-porn file swapping?

    Do I have to have porn running at both ends in order to exchange files?

    • by sketerpot (454020)
      If you're using something like BitTorrent, where you can upload and download at the same time, there's going to be pornography flying every which way.
    • That opens up the possibility of Pr0n data collision.

      • If we could simulate these porn collisions that naturally occur in cyberspace in a pornography-accelerating device, say a "Large Hardon Collider," we could observe the particles that result from the collisions and possibly even find the elusive Huge Bosom! Let me just do some calculations to make sure it couldn't accidentally create a Back Hole that could consume the planet...okay it seems any Back Holes which may open up could never be big enough or stay open long enough to pose a threat, it should be safe

  • Hey, Vint, that Guaridan hack is here.

    Oh, right.

    Hallo Mr Inventor of the Internet, what've ya got to say?

    Well, uh, nothing is foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
    Locks are for your friends, cause your enemies have pick tools.
    Damn straight I invented the Internet, not that Mr Green, I mean Gore.
    Etc.

    Nothing to see here. Sadly.

  • That's not the lesson that I took away from "The Brave Little Toaster. [wordpress.com]"

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by db32 (862117)
      You clearly didn't see the the alternate ending involving the electric blanket burning down the house.
  • by barnyjr (1259608) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:20PM (#25225691)

    Yeah it would be great if it were "every man for himself" and everyone made sure to protect themselves. However, that idea went out the window when the internet became main-stream. If everyone that used the internet were tech-savvy enough to protect themselves, this would be a non-issue. So do we need to tell all of the older people, children, and computer-idiots that use the internet that they're just out of luck since they don't understand the complications in using such an open medium? We could, but I don't think that's exactly fair.

    To me, it's the equivalent of saying, "OK you're of age to drive on the nation's interstate system. So we're not going to put up any speed limits or signs/signals/regulatory devices. It's every man for himself... good luck."

    Unfortunately, educating people isn't going to cut it. And I wish it was. I'm all for putting banks and anything related to finances on a more-secure, separate network. Unfortunately, we can't rely on end-users to protect themselves.

    • by Gat0r30y (957941)

      Unfortunately, we can't rely on end-users to protect themselves.

      no we cant. but it isn't our job to protect them. Tiered internet probably wouldn't solve most of these problems anyway.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:40PM (#25225911)

      I remember the last time I suggested that there should be some sort of net license that I was shouted down for being elitest, but really. Most of the problems we have with cybercrime are directly related to people that access the web without taking appropriate precautions. Were people to actually know what they were doing the problems would be a lot easier to fix.

    • I refuse to cater to the lowest common denominator. Get savvy or get out of my way.
    • Warning: Automotive analogies.

      OK you're of age to drive on the nation's interstate system. So we're not going to put up any speed limits or signs/signals/regulatory devices. It's every man for himself... good luck.

      Most ISPs do, in fact, have (anti)spam policies, among other things. The signs, signals, and regulatory devices are there -- for the basic stuff.

      But let me put this another way: In my state, Driver's Education is required. A quiz is also required to upgrade a learner's permit to a real license, once you're of age for one.

      That's not always the case everywhere, but some basic competence is expected.

      Then, once you're out there on the highway, it's pretty much every car for itself.

    • by m50d (797211)
      To me, it's the equivalent of saying, "OK you're of age to drive on the nation's interstate system. So we're not going to put up any speed limits or signs/signals/regulatory devices. It's every man for himself... good luck."To me, it's the equivalent of saying, "OK you're of age to drive on the nation's interstate system. So we're not going to put up any speed limits or signs/signals/regulatory devices. It's every man for himself... good luck."

      Recent experiments suggest this would actually make things safe

    • "If everyone that used the internet were tech-savvy enough to protect themselves"...I wouldn't have a job. In phone/tech support. Half my calls are from people who have problems that my co. tells me don't apply to what I'm supposed to do.
  • I'm going to connect a disk array to the "undernet" and call it the Panty-RAID. Dare I predict the Slashdot headline when the first virus hits the undernet? Why not: "Undernet Gets First Wedgie"
  • A few of the problems with the Internet stem from the fact that we trust computers. We trust that they'll do what we tell them, when in fact, they may not be receiving instructions only from us. We trust that they are who they say they are, when spoofing is fairly simple.

    The rest of the problems with the Internet have to do with the fact that people are naturally trusting of others. I trust that someone sending me mail isn't going to do something bad. I trust that you're not trying to scam me. The huma

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:35PM (#25225853)

    ...no silver bullet for scammers, spammers and criminals

    Maybe we should fall back to the lead variety.

    So says anonymous internet tough guy Sponge Bath.

  • by WarJolt (990309) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @06:49PM (#25226059)

    I hate to be cynical but, I think have simply an overnet and an undernet is simply too broad to secure properly. To target broad majority of commercial applications would leave the overnet too insecure and to secure it properly would leave it restrictive to get anything done commercially.

  • by just_another_sean (919159) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @07:28PM (#25226521) Homepage Journal

    ... you need to be suspicious whether you're inside the trusted cloud or not, and when it fails, the house of cards tends to collapse.

    There's nothing worse then when your cards are in the clouds and the house falls down. Was Vint a partial inspiration for Zapp Brannigan by any chance?

    If we hit that bull's eye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

  • I'm glad to see Cerf tacitly admit that there's really two sides to the end-to-end argument (no pun intended). There may be reasons to trade off security for openness, but it's important to recognize there is a trade-off and that the end-to-end design isn't a perfect solution in the real world.

    • Trading off security [openbsd.org]? The fact of the matter is that security holes are problems whether your competitors and the mafia can exploit them or just your competitors.
  • It SHOULD be about data, not the network. Every file, every page, should have metadata listing any number of digital signatures. We should be able to easily see who created the data, who says that person is legit, and whether the data has been tampered with. Then we don't have to worry about the network at all.

    If I'm viewing something which is signed by somebody with multiple governments or financial institutions also saying he is real and legit, I want my computer to tell me this guy is real and not a scam

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Every file, every page, should have metadata listing any number of digital signatures. We should be able to easily see who created the data, who says that person is legit, and whether the data has been tampered with.

      How would that work with regard to those who want anonymity? One of the strengths of the Internet is the ability to not be me. I may whistle-blow and not put my family in danger. Without a doubt, there would be far few flametards about if everyone had to present identification, but I do not see that gain being worth the loss of writing unpopular things without fear.

    • We should be able to easily see who created the data, who says that person is legit, and whether the data has been tampered with.

      You've just described SSL.

      Granted, it's not about the files -- it's entirely up to the server to ensure which files are sent. But everything else you described is true about the server, so the only thing left is for the server to say whether it thinks the files are legit.

      Then we don't have to worry about the network at all.

      Not going to address the audacity of that statement itself, but I should point out:

      If I'm viewing something which is signed by somebody with multiple governments or financial institutions also saying he is real and legit, I want my computer to tell me this guy is real and not a scammer.

      You're talking about a web of trust, which is every bit as difficult to build and maintain as any other network.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Of course there is the counter example, ICANN, that has for the 11 years of its existence almost always said "no" to people who want to set up completely lawful business to run new top level domains on the net.

  • with regard to this [slashdot.org] story about Stallman's warning about cloud computing, Vint Cerf seems to strike a similar echo, though from different viewpoints.

    Me personally, I'm with them, the more power to me, the better.
  • Your friends at Arts and Labs [artsandlabs.com] say "Don't listen to that mean, scary, man. Just hand over your freedom and we will protect you."
  • With spammers there might not be a silver bullet, but don't worry (lead is good enough).

  • it's the internet's openess: in allowing people with new ideas to do their thing without getting anyone's permission: that is the main source of its power"

    I see what he's saying: In an open society, you can't stop the power of the mob...

    Genius.

  • Oh, the idea of a free-for-all parallel Internet that's considered too dangerous for regular people. Soccer moms and grandparents can hang out in the shiny, filtered overnet and leave the rest alone.

    Guess which will have the better content? Everyone will have some vaguely seedy acquaintance who can get anything they want, for the right price. Gibson and Stephenson were only wrong in thinking it would be so far in the future.

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