Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Victoria Livschitz, Lori MacVittie, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Larry Dragich

Related Topics: Security

Security: Article

Rights of a Sovereign Nation or Invasion of an Open Internet?

Politicizing the actions of governments towards Internet security

The headlines are no surprise to those in the Internet business. "Police in Central China have shut down a hacker training operation that openly recruited thousands of members online…" (AP) We've know China, Russia, and several of the former Soviet block countries are the source of sophisticated hacking, and those activities have at least been tolerated, if not directly supported, but the host governments.

The recent dispute between Google and China's government brings another question into the breach – does a national government have the right to censor or control the flow of information in or out of the country? While China may be in the news, citizen journalists in Tehran have been severely punished for attempting to Tweet, email, blog, or transmit cell phone images outside of the country. Under the umbrella of national security do countries like Iran have the right to control that information, or develop teams of professional hackers to go out and look into the accounts of residents and citizens?

Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA): To amend title 18, United States Code, to make clear a telecommunications carrier's duty to cooperate in the interception of communications for Law Enforcement purposes, and for other purposes.

DCSNet, an abbreviation for Digital Collection System Network, is the FBI's point-and-click surveillance system that can perform instant wiretaps on almost any communications device in the US (Wikipedia)

I think we can all agree that any state which sponsors cyber attacks on another nation, either through direct objectives, or by turning a "blind eye" to the activities of criminal groups or organizations is a bad thing, which the entire global-connected world should fight. There is no justification for state-sponsored or state-tolerated denial of service, disruption or access to personal and private data, nor online theft.

The Rights of a Sovereign Nation
As Americans, we can get very sanctimonious in our approach to human rights, national ethics, or national morals. We believe we are always right, based on our religious or cultural beliefs, and other nations and cultures should learn from us and change their errant ways to be more like Americans. This means it is probably OK for the national Security Agency, or other three-lettered government agencies to tap, monitor, or perform other forms of espionage – as long as it is done under the context of national security, or even better if you can throw the word "anti-0terrorism" in the conversation.

Thus activities such as DCSNet, or laws such as CALEA, do not bother us too much. However when China tries to look into the systems using a similar premise of national security, the world has an uproar of indignity, not understanding how those people can possibly violate the privacy of email and other systems.

So the question is – "does a nation have the right to set its own laws, cyber-policies, and regulations regarding the Internet and other information systems?"

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has strong opinions on the topic. As a long time advocate (since 1990) for protecting the civil liberties of Internet users, both through protecting the rights of users and educating law enforcement agencies, the EFF includes the following points in its stated mission:

  • Develop among policy-makers a better understanding of the issues underlying free and open telecommunications, and support the creation of legal and structural approaches which will ease the assimilation of these new technologies by society.
  • Raise public awareness about civil liberties issues arising from the rapid advancement in the area of new computer-based communications media.
  • Support litigation in the public interest to preserve, protect, and extend First Amendment rights within the realm of computing and telecommunications technology.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

(1st Amendment to the US Constitution)

Law enforcement and national security agencies of countries around the world would object to the American equivalent of the First Amendment, citing the current world situation, or the sovereign rights of a nation allow it to write, establish, modify, interpret, or change such laws as needed to meet an existing or desired environment.

With global connections to a global community governments are struggling to understand how to control or manage information flows within the country. Twenty years ago it was easy for a government to determine exactly what materials would be used in the education of an 8 year old primary school student. Today, a student in Vietnam, Mongolia, or New Jersey basically have the same access to educational materials as any other student in the world, as well as news, intercommunications, and citizen journalism.

And we must also acknowledge the inherent use of deception by governments and other lobbyist organizations. In the world of governments, what you see is not necessarily what you get. The media is used as a mouthpiece of government policy (when it can be controlled), and without a strong governmental "noise filter" and open citizen journalist community you may not get the real story – only the story a government or organization wants you to receive. They believe it is their right as a sovereign nation's government of deliver you the news they believe you need to know, or they want you to know.

Some Guidelines for Responsible Cyber-Government
There are priorities. While we all understand national intelligence agencies will always do what they do best – access information they believe will give their respective nation some level of political, economic, or military advantage, the priority should be to protect citizens (including the context of global citizens) from malicious attacks on their personal data and ability to do business and communicate via the Internet.

Hacker schools, such as the China-based Black Hawk Safety Net, cannot be tolerated by a reasonable global community. If a government supports the activities network-enabled criminal activities, then that government should be identified and the world given the means to protect themselves from that risk. The US Government has taken some openly advertised steps in this direction by authorizing the US Air Force to establish the USAF Cyber Command.

The new Air Force Cyber Command "will train and equip forces to conduct sustained global operations in and through cyberspace, fully integrated with air and space operations," said Major General Charles Ickes.

Of course that capability can both defend – and attack as needed to meet military and national objectives.

Leaving users once again at the mercy of governments to both act responsibly, and in the interest of a global community. Sure, we have our work cut out for us. Like most individual users and people depending on the Internet for our livelihoods and futures, the burden is ultimately on us to protect ourselves from intrusion, theft, and denial of service.

More Stories By John Savageau

John Savageau is a life long telecom and Internet geek, with a deep interest in the environment and all things green. Whether drilling into the technology of human communications, cloud computing, or describing a blue whale off Catalina Island, Savageau will try to present complex ideas in terms that are easily appreciated and understood. Currently focusing efforts on designing data centers, telecom, enterprise architectures, and cloud computing strategies in developing countries, including Palestine, Indonesia, Moldova, Egypt, and Vietnam. John Savageau is President of Pacific-Tier Communications dividing time between Honolulu and Burbank, California. A former career US Air Force officer, Savageau graduated with a Master of Science degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas and also received Bachelor of Arts degrees in Asian Studies and Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.