Intertitle: What are your hopes for the future Internet? Your fears? What action should be taken now for the best future?
Douglas Comer: Well, hopes. You know, I started in the early days thinking maybe the Internet someday will get big. Maybe the Internet will become reliable. Maybe it will become universal.
And that has happened. So, in terms of hopes I would say I have expectations that things will continue to get better in terms of technology. We will have faster, more reliable, ubiquitous Internet everywhere, all the time. The copper infrastructure will be replaced by fiber optics and wireless. And things will become much better than they are now. So it’s not just hopes, I really…I really expect it to happen.
In terms of fears. I think the biggest fear I have is that we’re caught in a horrible arms race. That right now, we have companies trying to build secure software, secure hardware, secure products. And we have lots of groups trying to break security. Figure out how to break in, figure out— Even the security research community is in the business of breaking in.
And I have this terrible fear that it’s like the old days in the Wild West, you know. The banks would build more concrete in their walls. They were trying to protect the bank harder. Harder steel bars to keep people out. And the bandits would just use more dynamite. It’s always true that it’s easier to break things than to make them secure. So, as long as we have just an arms race, the bad guys will keep winning.
Now how do we solve the problem. That’s what I really fear. That the solution isn’t just something we can easily do. The solution is we need international agreement on laws. Otherwise if some country said, “Well in our country it’s okay to build hardware that brakes in, software that breaks its. It’s okay to launch attacks.” Then the bad guys just go to that country; manufacture things; they sneak ’em into other countries for the black market. And I hate to say it but there is a lot of ways you can sneak this stuff in. And we’ll just be caught in this continual arms race of we built more security… Oh, now people broke that security, we have to build more security.
So that’s my fear. That until we can get to the laws and international agreements, we’re doomed. And I don’t see that agreement on the horizon.
Internet Hall of Fame profile