Will the Internet Ever Be Safe?

No.

No, the internet will never be safe.

Erik Saas recently posted commentary on the Sony PSP security breach and how almost immediately after correcting the security hole, another breach was created.

The bottom line here is that the internet will always have security breaches and safety issues. This is primarily a result of two issues:

1. Criminals work at hacking into systems after those systems are created. The builders of the systems can only use the latest system tools and best practices to prevent known types of security threats. They do their best using algorithms and modern techniques to attempt to proactively restrict/reduce potential threats. However, criminals can then develop new ways to compromise these systems. So, the onus is then on the architects to go back and provide patches.

2. Not all systems will be engineered to be perfectly safe. It is too expensive. Companies have to strike the right balance between safety and cost. To lock down certain systems, they might otherwise have to restrict access or features, or even add additional tools, such as software and hardware. These costs can quickly add up, meaning that things you take for granted such as free online gaming, free banking, and other services might not be free.

Education is the key to success. Computer safety is still not taught at any level in the public education system (K-12 or higher ed), with the exception being higher education programs that focus on computer-related majors. This is due to educators not being savvy enough to update scholastic programming, and the fact that most educators don’t understand proper computer safety anyway. The result is that the overwhelming majority of adults don’t understand phishing emails, what the “lock symbol” means in their browser, or that a pop-up add saying “you have a virus” is really just an advertisement.

Until education catches up with modern computing, the criminals will continue to have the upper hand, regardless of how much time and resources are put into locking systems down like Sony’s PSP.