Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Great WikiLeaks Cyberwar: What's Coming In the Wake and the Death of the Internet as We Know It

You've probably heard about WikiLeaks and their supporters and opponents fighting it out in cyberspace.  Some are fighting for their rights, some are fighting for the sake of fighting.  But the end result, just like with any war, is the same:  desolation. 

Here is what I mean.  WikiLeaks has become so toxic that I would be surprised if many more leaks will be coming their way.  Why?  First, because of the attacks of a few have all but labeled the organization as criminal.  It's like bullies running through the school yard beating up a few to keep the others in line.  They are still bullies, and in that way they are in the wrong.  And while WIkiLeaks has not condoned or requested this attack, it has been done in their name, and therefore has made them look like organized crime, with cyber hit men at their beck and call. 

Second, because there could be some pretty serious consequences for leaking any information that is sensitive, at least at the government level.  I don't see WikiLeaks going away, because funds are not necessarily hard to come by when you are already running off of donations.  I just don't think they will get anything of this caliber sent their way again, and will become less relevant in the future. 

Internet services, whether it be financial, DNS or web hosting, will start to change.  Your content will become important to them, as well as where that content comes from.  Potential copyright infringement will no longer be overlooked, particularly if the US Government attacks the hosting services of WikiLeaks.  If that's the case, the RIAA and the MPAA will have precedence, and Government precedence, to do the same thing. 

Established brick and mortar institutions, like Mastercard and Visa, along with any business, can easily show their strength.  Both Mastercard and Visa have existed long before there was an Internet, and could exist just fine without their websites.  So while attempts at hacking and denial of service attacks on websites may be very visible, it's a far cry from victory. 

But what this does do is highlight the dangers for any organization or institution to go onto the Internet.  It outlines their weakness, and therefore their need to protect themselves somehow.  What better way than to get the Internet regulated?  Net Neutrality is dealt a very serious blow with this cyber war, and instead makes managed networks like China, Iran, and other such countries more attractive a model.

But the real loser here will be the "free Internet", and I'm not talking "free" as in "free beer" here.  I'm talking the Internet where you have the freedom to express yourself as you like, the anonymity that comes with the Internet will be lost, even if you try to hide yourself through proxies and various other methods.  Sure, it's possible now, but once governments (and I'm not just talking the United States of America here) get a chance to think about this it will end.  Forced registration to hardware addresses could be next, having your name bonded to your network connection.  Is it possible, probably.  Will it happen, possibly, particularly now.  Will it be popular?  Absolutely not.  But like full body scans and enhanced pat downs, it could become another way of life. 

So, those who are caught in the zeal of battle, stop back and think for a minute.  Is all this really worth it for a man who was picked up for a sexual assault charge, and not because of any link to his website?  Stop reading between the lines, stop over reacting, and wait to see how things pan out.  The less we react as paranoid, panicky sheep, the more likely issues can be managed and dealt with rationally. 

I fear one day to look back at the great WikiLeaks Cyberwar as an event that doomed the Internet to restricted sterility.

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