The Internet as we know it — free, open and accessible — might be on its death bed. The result will be more crime that’s less detectible and possibly even more spam in your inbox.
That’s the prediction from Tacoma-based cybersecurity company IID, which made its annual forecast this week. IID releases a report each year that analyzes trends and projects them two years ahead.
“It saddens us to make this prediction, but the perceived threat of cybercrime, cyberespionage and cyberterrorism will become so great as to necessitate a significant closing off of the Internet for most Internet users,” IID President and Chief Technology Officer Rod Rasmussen said in a news release.
By the end of 2016, IID predicts, encryption will be used on a wide scale by people who want to protect their privacy from government intrusion.
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People’s desire for encryption is caused by “recent reports of national governments and intelligence agencies around the world conducting intensive electronic surveillance of pedestrian civilian Internet activities,” IID says.
That widespread government surveillance will in turn make it harder to identify and intercept “communications from terrorists who are organizing attacks online,” the company predicts.
“Moreover, cybercriminals hatching various online attacks and pedophiles trading online child abuse materials will have free rein to operate without fear of detection, while anti-spam scanning services will fail to catch massive amounts of spam before it lands in inboxes,” IID says.
How will governments react? More spying.
“Agencies will likely hack (Internet service providers), citizens and the cloud itself to get better visibility as to when certain encrypted data is at rest and when it is actively being viewed by suspected bad actors,” the company predicts. “Governments will also look to laws and regulations that limit the use of encryption or require mandatory access to keys” that will unlock encryption.
Meanwhile, countries will be blocking Internet activity from other countries suspected of harboring online espionage and other criminal activity.
This “Balkanization of the Internet,” as IID calls it, will stem from countries deciding that protecting national assets trumps the “free and open” principals the Internet was founded on.
Russia, Germany and Brazil already have investigated whether to require its citizens’ data be stored on servers only within the country’s borders. China’s Internet is already mostly closed.
China “routinely monitors and censors on a massive scale,” IID says. “So the tools, infrastructure and systems needed to wall off the Internet already exist.”