Cyberwar Imperative: We Need A Next-Generation Internet

So Burger King's Twitter account got hacked on Monday. Apple and Facebook got attacked too. And so it goes. Within a few years, the Internet will be engulfed by "nuclear" warfare, but the bombs will be entirely created in plain ASCII text. What can be done?

We need a new Internet, that’s all. One designed from the ground up to be far more secure than what we have today. A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about the Chinese hacking into The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. All because they delved too deeply into the affairs of some Chinese government officials.

On Tuesday, Mandiant released two reports that not only provided more evidence to support its allegations that many hacking attacks originate in China, but also pinpointed the exact location, a 12-story building on the outskirts of Shanghai. As The New York Times put it, that building is the “People’s Liberation Army base for China’s growing corps of cyberwarriors.”

The hacking underground is teeming with activity, as witnessed by the Apple and Facebook attacks. In Apple’s case, a worm was unleashed when employees visited a site called iPhoneDevSDK.

No Evidence?

I shuddered at the foregone conclusion of some media outlets: “there was no evidence that any data left Apple.”

Really?

They can break in at will but they have to leave evidence that they took stuff? Then there was the wholesale hacking of the Burger King Twitter account, which resulted in a string of profane tweets.

Like I wrote in World War III Is Already Here - And We're Losing, we’re smiling the enemy in the face. In that article, I proposed that America ramp up its investment spending in cyber security and robotics dramatically, by boosting cyber-security investment to $5 billion and robotics to $20 billion, annually.

As Steve Blank observes, “We are getting our asses handed to us by the Chinese. Almost irrationally we have decided not to have a National Industrial policy — leaving that to private capital.”

Who Will Lead The Charge?

So it’s up to us pundits in the media to lead the charge for disruptive change. And one thing that clearly has to go, in its current form, is the Internet. I propose the U.S. create a next-generation Internet, a superset, or n-th layer if you will, that make our critical Internet infrastructure, which is now largely powering the U.S. economy, less massively vulnerable to hacking attacks.

We have already seen what Russia did to Estonia in 2007 and to Georgia in 2008. Now imagine what a full-blown war would look like today - or in 2015?

Way back in August 2006, Bloomberg BusinessWeek cited a counterintelligence report that found at least 108 countries engaged in “collection efforts against sensitive and protected U.S. technologies),” up from 37 a decade ago. Now that’s a trend. Among the few countries specifically mentioned, China and Russia were among “the most aggressive” in targeting the U.S.

The Fiscal Times, a publication funded by Peter Peterson, agrees with my bleak assessment: Chinese Attacks Reveal an Undeclared Global Cyber War.

Next-Generation Internet: Wants & Needs

So how should this Next-Generation Internet be architected?

I will give you my wish list and you, tech wizards, can write the spec:

  • Secure: It should be extremely secure, from day one. I know some will say that anything can be hacked, but let’s put the fence up high enough so that climbing it becomes a relatively esoteric art.
  • Real ID: Everyone using it in an official U.S. capacity should be readily identifiable. I propose some type of next-generation eye-recognition technology using a computer or mobile camera. This will help sites like LinkedIn and Facebook in their endless battle against identity fraud. It will also help deter spamming because each business will need to use its “eyeD” to launch a marketing campaign.
  • America Only: It should be accessible by Americans only, for obvious reasons. Americans are free to leave the Next Gen Internet, but they do so as their own discretion.

I’m sure many people can’t believe I would even propose such a thing. I know that things are going to have to get a lot worse before anyone takes my proposals seriously.

That's OK. I've already called this World War III, and it's only beginning to escalate. To win, we'll need to innovate. And that means staying ahead of the pack.

 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.