Greg's bite: the paradox of the Internet
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Greg's bite: the paradox of the Internet

By Greg Mills

I can barely remember when the Internet began to burst on the scene. My first recollection was when my brother, an art professor, mentioned in a phone call about connecting his computer to the Internet.

In those days you had to buy a separate modem costing a few hundred dollars which hooked up to your computer with a clunky serial port cable connector. The modem was the size of a cigar box and ran so slowly it was absurd over a phone line. The very early Internet was text with limited domains and not much in the way of browser software.

About the time the Mac came along a graphic browser called Netscape changed everything. I took a class on the Internet at the local community college and was dazzled by the color displays and search engine that allowed fast research on a lot of subjects. At that time, Yahoo was the big gun in search engines. Google wasn't on-line yet.

The vast potential of the Internet was just dawning on those most educated about the notion of building web sites and managing data on-line. The explosion of the Internet came suddenly and soon companies were spending thousands of dollars to have some cyber expert build a crude graphical web site for them. The frantic grabbing of URLs that would be worth a bundle in a few short years was underway.  

The government began to use the Internet for communicating information within and without official channels. Banks were at first reluctant to trust the Internet with their data, for obvious reasons, but as encrypted data streams allowed good security, they went on-line as well. These days most of us connect with our banks on-line more often than we stumble into a brick-and-mortar branch.  

Back in those days, hackers were pretty obvious and while some thefts of data and money were publicly known, a lot of compromised systems were not publicly disclosed for security reasons.  Why tip off potential hackers that some un-captured electronic thieves had made off with thousands or millions of dollars? That only encourage more hacks. It was from that point on, that a race to hack and protect from hacking across the Internet began. This is a war that never has been fully lost or won by either side.

Recently, the real world danger of malware that could turn off the cooling system in a nuclear reactor and melt the darn thing down has come to the attention of both the governments of the world and industry. The Stuxnet worm, which infects industrial controllers run by infected WIndows PCs, which, unfortunately, are the default, lowest common denominator computers of the hour spread that virus worldwide.  

Ironically, the original infection was likely done by use of a thumb drive plugged into a USB port on some Iranian engineer's computer that might not have even been connected to the Internet.  But, we know the Internet spread Stuxnet worldwide in a mater of weeks. Fortunately, the authors were careful to limit the damage to a very specific flavor of a Siemens industrial control device found exclusively in Iran.  

The enormous promise of the Internet, making most computers merely a terminal to one interconnected worldwide computer seems to have as many cons as pros. In the last few days a hacker was captured who was able to enter the computers of a Federal Reserve Bank, a Pentagon contractor with national security implications and also obtained a few hundred thousand credit card account numbers. Does that sound like a one-man operation to you? While the connection of the Internet causes concern, the failure of the internet is also worrisome.

The power grid of the United States, nuclear power stations, government and financial institutions and other important elements of the infrastructure interconnected to the Internet are coming under increased attack by both thieves and hostile governments. While the US has a lot of control over the servers that are the gateway to the millions of miles of Internet conduits, shutting the Internet down abruptly in case of a national emergency might cause as much damage as not shutting it down. So many computer systems around the world would crash with unknown consequences, no one knows exactly what would happen.

The missile that was launched 34 miles from the shore of California, likely by China last week, holds tremendous threat. Imagine a missile launched near our shores that carried an electromagnetic pulse bomb, that if detonated over the central US would, in an instant of time, fry every microprocessor in half of North America. The collapse of our way of life would occur within days or weeks.  

The Internet is not hardened enough to withstand such an attack and infrastructure control devices not meld down would fail due to the collapse of the Internet. The sudden loss of all utilities and transportation would doom millions to starvation and death. The Internet would be the least of our problems in surviving such an attack. The time required to repair the grid would be irrelevant to most of us.  

A number of failsafe solutions are obvious to protect the electrical grid of the US. There should be manual overrides that go into operation by default when the Internet goes down. Controller switching devices need to be well hardened to protect them from a electromagnetic pulse. Back- up controllers should be installed in vulnerable points in the grid that can be manually reset.  A early warning system using the Internet could allow the grid to be uncoupled to prevent surges from one part of the grid to take down the rest of the grid when the Defense Department thinks a missile might have been launched. A few minutes' warning might reduce the damage considerably. 

The defense from both Internet and missile attacks upon the US is the duty of the military. I hope they are up to it and expand their use of Macs. Diversification of operating systems and operating system software on industrial controllers is one way to prevent destructive malware from spreading. Physically disconnecting isolated systems from the Internet is also helpful.  

Electromagnetic Pulse protection for important civilian systems is critical, beyond the military, which has been working to protect electronic devices for years. Basic electronic device hardening can be done from the design stage relatively cheaply. We need to expect the unexpected -- and we know there is a hostile world out there.

There is a Chinese curse that goes, "May you live in interesting times." And we certainly do.

That's Greg's bite for today.

(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He's working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg's art web site at www.gregmills.info ; his email is gregmills@mac.com )

 
AAPL
$95.94
Apple Inc.
-2.21
MSFT
$43.40
Microsoft Corpora
-0.18
GOOG
$575.68
Google Inc.
-11.75

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OmniPlan 2.3.6 - Robust project manageme...
With OmniPlan, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success,... Read more
Command-C 1.1.1 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Knock 1.1.7 - Unlock your Mac by knockin...
Knock is a faster, safer way to sign in. You keep your iPhone with you all the time. Now you can use it as a password. You never have to open the app -- just knock on your phone twice, even when it's... Read more
Mellel 3.3.6 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.0.4 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
Freeway Pro 7.0 - Drag-and-drop Web desi...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With it's user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Drive Genius 3.2.4 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius is an OS X utility designed to provide unsurpassed storage management. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, Drive Genius is packed with powerful tools such as a drive optimizer, a... Read more
Vitamin-R 2.15 - Personal productivity t...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Toast Titanium 12.0 - The ultimate media...
Toast Titanium goes way beyond the very basic burning in the Mac OS and iLife software, and sets the standard for burning CDs, DVDs, and now Blu-ray discs on the Mac. Create superior sounding audio... Read more
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper 1.0 - Desktop im...
OS X Yosemite Wallpaper is the gorgeous new background image for Apple's upcoming OS X 10.10 Yosemite. This wallpaper is available for all screen resolutions with a source file that measures 5,418... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Despicable Me: Minion Rush is One Year O...
Despicable Me: Minion Rush is One Year Old, Gets its Biggest Update Yet Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Plants vs. Zombies 2 Enters the Second H...
Plants vs. Zombies 2 Enters the Second Half of the Dark Ages Posted by Ellis Spice on July 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Why Does It Spin? (Games)
Why Does It Spin? 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: THERE'S ONLY ONE RULE: DON'T TOUCH THE WALLS! Do you think you're able to follow this simple rule even if you would have to... | Read more »
Ice Wings Plus (Games)
Ice Wings Plus 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: THE GREAT ENDLESS RUNNER OF COMBAT JETS IS BACK !! With more than 680.000 downloads in the App Store, Ice Wings: Skies of Steel... | Read more »
Murl the Squirrel (Games)
Murl the Squirrel 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Meet Murl. He is teased by a group of flying squirrels because he can't fly. Determined to show them he's can fly, he meets... | Read more »
Celleste (Games)
Celleste 0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 0.1 (iTunes) Description: Lots of cute action with amazing 3D graphics and a new type of gameplay! Take control over the forces of the universe to help a group... | Read more »
Super Heavy Sword (Games)
Super Heavy Sword 0.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 0.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Get Ready to Get HEAVY! Monster Robot Studios presents SUPER Heavy Sword! The sequel to the smash hit HEAVY sword which... | Read more »
Angels In The Sky (Games)
Angels In The Sky 1.00 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.00 (iTunes) Description: - A.I.S will only run smoothly on iPhone 5s. It's NOT compatible with iPad, iPhone 5 or earlier devices.- In order to... | Read more »
80 Days (Games)
80 Days 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: 1872, with a steampunk twist. Phileas Fogg has wagered he can circumnavigate the world in just eighty days. Choose your own route... | Read more »
Micromon (Games)
Micromon 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 130+ Animated Monsters to Catch & Battle! No waiting, play at your own pace! Embark on an epic monster capture RPG like none... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

iPad Cannibalization Threat “Overblown”
Seeking Alpha’s Kevin Greenhalgh observes that while many commentators think Apple’s forthcoming 5.5-inch panel iPhone 6 will cannibalize iPad sales, in his estimation, these concerns are being... Read more
Primate Labs Releases July 2014 MacBook Pro P...
Primate Labs’ John Poole has posted Geekbench 3 results for most of the new MacBook Pro models that Apple released on Tuesday. Poole observes that overall performance improvements for the new MacBook... Read more
Apple Re-Releases Bugfixed MacBook Air EFI Fi...
Apple has posted a bugfixed version EFI Firmware Update 2.9 a for MacBook Air (Mid 2011) models. The update addresses an issue where systems may take longer to wake from sleep than expected, and... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, plus free sh...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $140 on an iPad Air with Apple ref...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
$250 price drop on leftover 15-inch Retina Ma...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on 2013 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2249, $250 off... Read more
More iPad Upgrade Musings – The ‘Book Mystiqu...
Much discussed recently, what with Apple reporting iPad sales shrinkage over two consecutive quarters, is that it had apparently been widely assumed that tablet users would follow a two-year hardware... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $999.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
WaterField Unveils 15″ Outback Solo & 13″...
Hard on the heels of Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro Retina laptops announcement, WaterField Designs has unveiled a 15-inch version of the waxed-canvas and leather Outback Solo and a 13-inch version of... Read more

Jobs Board

Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.