[Dave Birch] Oh no! According to tonight’s news reports, the UK is bracing itself for cyberattack from the “hackers” supporting Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Apparently vital government services are at risk from the group called “Anonymous” launching distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks. A bit like this guy, from the group “Not Anonymous At All”:

A 17-year-old from Manchester has been arrested by the Metropolitan Police’s e-crime unit (PCeU) on suspicion of being behind a denial of service attack against the online game Call of Duty.

[From Call of Duty DDoS attack police arrest teen • The Register]

He was, of course, traced from his IP address. I thought it was funny, in a way, that journalists and politicians refer to the LOIC kids as “hackers” when they are anything but. What’s more, as I said when Charles Arthur was kind enough to invite me on to The Guardian’s Technology Podcast, they have chosen a particularly funny way to join the Anonymous group of internet vigilantes: software that isn’t anonymous in the least and that delivers their IP addresses to their intended victims, thus making it easy for them to be traced and arrested. This is, in fact, precisely what has happened.

A 16-year-old boy was arrested in the Netherlands in connection with a series of cyber attacks on Visa, MasterCard

[From Dutch teen arrested over cyber attacks on Visa, MasterCard]

My personal views about Wikileaks and the “Cable Gate” DDOS attacks are irrelevant. (I will say this: that if you don’t like MasterCard then cancel your card and leave mine out of it). But they will certainly have an impact on thinking and the calls for “something to be done” mean change. Since there’s no way to stop people from copying data (as the music industry has discovered), that’s probably not a fruitful line of thinking. So what will happen?

What technology may lead to are “red” and “blue” internets. (Note that “blue and red” are here allusions to the military labelling of secure and insecure networks, they are nothing to do with blue and red pills in The Matrix.) Essentially, there will be secure and insecure internets both running over the same IP networks.

On the red, open, internet people and organisations will exchange encrypted data across an untrusted network. Some people may choose not to connect to the red internet at all and only crazy people (and organisations) will send unencrypted data to unauthenticated counterparties.

On the blue, closed, internet you will need to authenticate yourself before you are allowed to access anything and a digital identity infrastructure will deliver privacy (and in some cases anonymity) through cryptography, not through data protection registrars or privacy ombudsmen. In order to connect to the government, or Facebook, or Amazon, you will have to use the blue internet: they simply won’t be connected to the red internet any more. At home, I will probably set my internet connection to blue only.

Now, some of you may be concerned that, as The Daily Telegraph told us, the Chinese government have a master key that can decrypt everything on the Internet, in which case the entire Internet will be — very literally indeed — red forever.

While sensitive data such as emails are generally encrypted before being transmitted, the Chinese government holds a copy of an encryption master key which could be used to break into redirected traffic.

[From China ‘hijacks’ 15 per cent of world’s internet traffic – Telegraph]

But look on the bright side: since the Chinese have “a copy” of this mythical master key, someone else must have the original, and they will be able to read all of the Chinese government’s e-mail and put that on Wikileaks too.

These opinions are my own (I think) and presented solely in my capacity as an interested member of the general public [posted with ecto]

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