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Does Better Security Depend on a Better Internet?


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The New York Times' recent article, "Do We Need a New Internet?," by John Markoff, has sparked debate in the research community over whether creating a secure Internet will require creating a new Internet. In the article, Stanford University's Nick McKeown says that unless today's Internet is changed, a public catastrophe is likely. In a blog post, Eugene Spafford, executive director of Purdue University's Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security, writes "the Internet itself is not the biggest problem. Rather, it is the endpoints, the policies, the economics, and the legal environment that make things so difficult."

University of California, San Deigo's Stefan Savage agrees. He says the network is the smallest part of the security problem, and that on a technical level the security problem is an end-host problem in combination with an interface issue. "At a social level it's a human factors issue," Savage says.

The Washington Advisory Group's Peter Freeman says although technical improvements are needed, a major part of the security issue comes from people, not technology. However, Freeman says that reinventing some networking aspects is still an important research goal. As director of the National Science Foundation's computer science division, Freeman helped launch the GENI Project in 2004 with the goal of developing an experimental platform for exploring reliable and high-capacity networks. The GENI Project has made significant progress, and a version of the testbed will be available for early testing in a few months, which will enable researchers to investigate core networking research questions.

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