Every long journey begins with a first step; and the US Government has announced the beginning of a long journey to make the Internet safer for all of us to transact business. The Whitehouse Cyber Security Coordinator and Special Assistant to the President, Howard Schmidt, announced a draft plan for improving online privacy and security through the use of a trusted digital identity system. The National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) whose objective is to improve cyberspace for all those who conduct business online, was made public on June 25, 2010. It’s in draft form and comments are encouraged by anyone with suggestions to improve it.
The reason this strategy has been developed is that cyber crime, especially when conducting business transactions online, has become pervasive throughout the Internet and we simply can no longer completely trust that a transaction will be safely and securely completed.
This problem is enabled by the current design of the Internet. It was originally designed on the principle of trust, among researchers who knew each other. And they kept it open and shared. However, those same principles of openness and trust allow cyber criminals to operate freely with anonymity because the Internet has no built-in mechanisms for knowing, with any certainty, who sent what or who has just stolen your data.
This new strategy seems to have merit in that it’s design is based on sound security principles, it’ll be governed by standards, there is a reasonable plan, albeit high-level at this time, and it’s going to be supported by the US Government. On the downside, I can see potential issues such as the cost of the smart identity cards and the hardware to read them, how well the global community will adopt the strategy, the safety of the smart identity cards themselves (they’re computer devices) from being hacked or in some way compromised…well, you get the idea. However, all these potential issues can be overcome in time; and I’m optimistic about this program. It surely is a better approach to a complete scrapping of the Internet as we know it and to start over with a new design; as has been studied for several years now.
At first blush, my opinion is that this strategy is a good approach and we should give this document a good read and evaluation. Then, let’s discuss it’s pros and cons and those of us who feel so inclined should comment on the draft. I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution, but we must do something to make the Internet safer. I’d say let’s take this first step on the journey.
Take a look at the document and let me hear your comments and opinions; we all learn from each other when our views and opinions are shared.
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