Internet climate control? | SC Media

Internet climate control?

March 10, 2008
Scott Chasin, chief technology officer, MX Logic --

For years now we have faced the deluge of spam and other digital pollutants clogging the communication vectors of the Internet.

Unfortunately, the rising tide of duplicitous advertisements and contaminated bits billowing from the massive and far reaching botnet factories of “planet Internet” will only continue to worsen as the technology being embraced by their malevolent facilitators continues to outpace that of the slow reactive filtering models.

This reactive cleanup model, installed as protective filtering gateways or desktop scanning processes, provides an invaluable asset in the war against internet pollution.

However, it doesn't take an internet environmentalist to note that the volumes of pollutants are increasing at such a fast pace that inboxes are still getting clogged and the pipes connecting those end-points are being suffocated and choked.
Can the reactive model keep up with the threat? Or will the delivery of malicious bits evolve faster, with more sophistication, morphing to a scale that will dwarf the attempts of signature and heuristic-based reactive approaches?

One thing is for sure, the internet climate IS changing. The filtering models that have been installed are not only changing the behavior of how we use the internet (think quarantines and virus updates) but are also impacting the reliability of communication.

Filtering isn't completely accurate and mistakes can be made. Some could say we are simply sorting the pollutants from the Inbox to the quarantine. Are we simply wearing gas masks and ignoring the saturated spammy internet atmosphere?

Some recent studies suggest, that if a typical email server on the internet were to relax or drop it's edge filtering, it would be overran with contaminates within minutes, crashing or halting under the burden.

I've advocated the use of outbound filtering models for sometime, especially with internet service providers.

Since the majority of pollutant spreading botnets are usually seeded within an ISP's consumer subscriber base, shouldn't the ISP have more tight control on what bits are leaving their networks? It seems, up until now, that ISPs have largely ignored the pollution emanating from their networks and have only really focused on the incoming pollutants from other providers. Perhaps the symbiotic nature of controlling one's own pollution output could ultimately help diminish the input deluge that seems to be the primary focus of today.

Maybe we are ready to enter a new world of proactive medicine?

It appears to me that internet security and pollution control is certainly ready for new models of containment and the recent advances in identity and trust management could be the future of how pollution on the Internet will be controlled and squelched.

That said, the reliance on reactive filtering will never dissipate and will for the unforeseeable future likely be a cornerstone of Internet pollution control, protecting millions of internet inhabitants from phishing, botnets, viruses, worms, spam, spit, spim and every other new form of evil bit that evolves to subvert the security of our privacy, our attention and our wallets.

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