IID: 2016's Internet, a Much Different Place

By Steve Anderson December 11, 2014

The Internet has been absolutely nothing if not a continuing evolution in progress, with its timeline shrunk to preposterous degrees sufficient that we could actually sit and watch it. But with the Internet's ubiquity has come a great many changes. A new report from IID says that, by 2016, most may not recognize the Internet of that era from what it is today thanks to steady rises in encryption and even countries banning each others' traffic.

By the end of 2016, according to the IID, more Internet users than ever will be turning to encryption to make the data generated more secure and it won't just be limited to individuals. Entire countries will take to the practice, actively blocking traffic from other countries, particularly those who engage in large-scale acts of “cyberhostility,” as such are called.

Basically, as IID's president and chief technology officer (CTO) Rod Rasmussen explains, the growth of crime, spying and terrorism online will lead to users working to protect online property, much in the same way the growth of crime, spying and terrorism would do likewise in the real world. But Rasmussen, clearly concerned about this course, notes that such a move “...will forever change the Internet's greatest asset and promise as an almost universally accessible, open clearinghouse of global information and ideas.”

This sounds dire, almost unreasonably so, until the basic tenets of the concept are examined more closely. IID actually expects most traffic to be encrypted by 2016, as people and corporations alike decide that an open clearinghouse of information and ideas sounds great, but doesn't need to involve things like personally identifiable information and the like. Part of a still-ongoing backlash against things like the National Security Agency (NSA)'s snooping and the revelations of same brought about from Edward Snowden, encryption is likely to be a major part of the landscape. But that's going to make things particularly difficult for governments and law enforcement seeking to enforce and create laws, allowing things like online attacks to go comparatively unnoticed until it's too late. From pedophiles passing around illicit material to spam landing in more inboxes than ever before, encryption will have a hand in preventing the interception of some of this matter. Naturally, governments won't take this lying down, and as such, will develop new methods to break encryption, including hacking ISPs directly and requiring access to encryption keys, a measure that will likely be greeted with suspicion and resistance. As governments crack down, so too will users go more underground, sharing less and encrypting more.

Problems within won't be the only issue here, as problems without will also join in the fray. The explosive growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) is offering huge possibility, but also huge potential for disaster. The staggering number of new connections also means a staggering number of potential failure points, and access to the system may be as easy as finding a comparatively unguarded sensor to access. That's going to lead countries to block traffic from other countries, and effectively “Balkanize” the Internet.

While these are reasonably well-founded points, the idea that, in just two years, the Internet will convert to a series of walled gardens may be a bit outlandish. Still, it's a reasonable idea, and though it may not reach quite the scope that IID expects, encryption is likely to be a major part of the Internet for some time to come.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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