What will US politics and the economy be like as we progress through the twenty-first century? There is no single vision, but many people perceive a type of digital democracy. The use of information via Internet or World Wide Web will dramatically change politics and the way government takes place. For example, a digital democracy can inform people about political candidates and issues. Volunteers also use email and web sites to encourage people to go to the polls and vote for their candidate. (1) This really boosts voting and political participation but the problem of security and privacy comes along with this digital democracy. Security would seem easy with todays technology but how do you secure something that is changing faster than you can find a solution?
The Internet has had security problems since its earliest days as a pure research project. Even today, after several years and orders of magnitude of growth, it still has security problems. It is being used for a purpose for which it was never intended: commerce. (2) It is somewhat ironic that the early Internet was design as a prototype for a command and control network that could resist outages resulting from enemy actions, but it cannot resist college undergraduates. (2) The problem is that the attackers are on, and make up a part of, the network they are attacking. Designing a system that is capable of resisting attack from within, while still growing and evolving at a breakneck pace, is probably impossible. (1) Deep infrastructure changes are needed, and once you have achieved a certain amount of size, the sheer inertia of the installed base may make it impossible to apply repairs. (1) As general-purpose scripts were introduced on both the client and the servers sides, the dangers of accidental and malicious abuse grew. It did not take long for the Web the move form the scientific community to the commercial world. At this point, the security threats became much more serious. The incentive for malicious attackers to exploit vulnerabilities in the underlying technologies is at an all-time high.(1) When business and profit are at stake, we cannot assume anything less than the most dedicated and resourceful attackers typing their utmost to steal, cheat, and perform malice against users of the Web. (2)
With the web being the single, largest source of information in the world, people are capable of obtaining stock quotes, tax information from the International Revenue Service, conduct election polls, register for a conference and the list goes on. (2) It is only natural that the Webs functionality, popularity, and ubiquity have made it the seemingly ideal platform for conducting electronic commerce. (1) The Webs virtues are extolled without end, but its rapid growth and universal adoption have not been without cost.
Along with the costs the challenges of security are growing. With the electronic commerce spreading over the Internet, there are issues such as non-repudiation to be resolved. (3) Financial institutions will have both technical concerns, such as the security of a credit card number or banking information, and legal concerns for holding individuals responsible for their actions such as their purchases or sales over the Internet. Issuance and management of encryption keys for millions of users will also pose a challenge of confidentiality. The simple method of protecting security and user privacy is using certification schemes, which rely on digital Ids. (3) Netscape Communicator Navigator and Internet Explorer allow users to obtain and use personal certificates. (3) Many Web sites require their users to register a name and a password. When users connect to these sites, their browser pops up an authentication window that asks for these two items. Usually, the browser then sends the name and password to the server that can allow retrieval of the remaining pages at the site. (2)
Despite the maintaining of security, may it be for an individual or confirming confidentiality for a firm, only an across-the-board effort of cooperation and integrity can minimize risks and ensure privacy for users. We can expect new social hurdles over time and hope the great benefits of the Internet will continue to override these hurdles through new technologies and legislations. (3) We are just beginning to learn how to develop secure software and need to realize that for our future, if online, we need to incorporate security into the foundation of everything we develop.
1)Microsoft. Networking Essentials Plus, #rd Ed. 2000. Published by Microsoft Press, Redmond, Washington.
2)Ron White. How Computers Work. 6th Ed. 2002. Published by QUE Corporation, Indianapolis
3)H.M. Deitel. JAVA. How to program. 2nd Ed. 1998. Deitel and Associates Inc. Prentice Hall Inc, New Jersey.
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