Home Vint Cerf: Chief Internet Worrier

Vint Cerf: Chief Internet Worrier

Recently Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, has been throwing out warning signals about the Internet. He told the BBC that poor security and poor software design are undermining the reliability of the internet. In particular he mentioned Operating Systems and browsers:

“The biggest hole we have is with internet browsers, because we have too much access to the functionality of the operating system,‚Ä? he said, explaining that this made it easy to be infected by viruses and ‚ÄúTrojans‚Ä?, malicious programs that can be used to take control of a computer.

While Vint Cerf isn’t worried these days about the Internet collapsing due to a lack of capacity in the physical infrastructure, he is concerned that “software bugs ‚Äì such as the problems that brought the internet phone service Skype to its knees last week ‚Äì coupled with poor security could cause big problems.”

In another media report, from the Edinburgh International Television Festival, Vint Cerf warns that all the information currently stored on the web could be lost to future generations. He is quoted as saying:

“I don’t know whether 1,000 years from now information that might have been valuable and could have been preserved if it was written on vellum, won’t be preserved because it’s written in bits.”

It’s not all doomsaying though. In the same report Vint Cerf talks about Google’s plans for advertising in online video:

“The internet allows all sorts of ancillary information to be downloaded with video – from subtitles to adverts – meaning that in the future, users could click on a bottle of wine they like the look of and find out where to buy it nearby.

“Google has discovered letting consumers decide what advertising to look at has been a very important part of our business model,” Mr Cerf said.”

Vint Cerf is of course an Internet legend – together with Bob Kahn, he helped create the Internet and the TCP/IP protocols which it uses. So it’s interesting to hear his concerns about the Internet – the vulnerabilities of operating systems and browsers, software bugs like the one that crippled Skype, and the long-term preservation of Web data.

For more of Vint Cerf’s views on the Internet, check out this recent video from YouTube entitled Tracking the Internet into the 21st Century:

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