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Internet security is every user's responsibility
Source: Financial Times
Source Date: Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Focus: Internet Governance
Created: Jun 11, 2010

From Mr Michael Ayres.

Sir, For sure, the heavily guarded US Fort Knox gold repository is no proper analogy for security for the internet, but despite my hesitation to critique someone with greater credentials than I, Jonathan Zittrain (Comment, June 3) confuses rather than clarifies.

In the first place, the internet is not a repository of data; it is a network (copper and fibre optic cables, wires, and sometimes wireless) on which communications between "hosts" (computers or other electronic devices) is conducted. Data and information travel across the internet, but no information is stored on it. It is stored on computers, or tape drives, or CDs, or other electronic media, and then transmitted across the internet between computer systems.

And by the way, the internet did not start with the world wide web (www, the http protocol, or web pages) but existed long before, and the two are not the same, though the web uses the internet as an underlying electronic "highway" for browsers to get pages from websites.

If Fort Knox were like today's digital information, millions of people would be driving up to the fort and making copies of the gold bullion, which could be exchanged just like the original. Talk about oversupply of money! The internet protocol, TCP/IP, is totally an open, distributed architecture as it has been since day one.

Though individual entities that use the internet to communicate with other computers, or hosts, might choose to secure or restrict access to their data, it's really no different from having a door on your home and, hopefully, locks to control who comes and goes and who takes what, if anything, in your possession.

For anyone who connects to the internet, indeed security is their responsibility and obligation.

Michael Ayres,

San Francisco, CA, US


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