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Tech News 101: Rebooting the Internet Under Attack

internet reboot smartcard

(The smart cards that are going to be a lifeline when the internet comes down and needs someone to reboot it back to normal. Image source: The Guardian)

The world nowadays runs on the internet and once it is down, it is going to shut down a major portion of businesses around the world. This may be very old news in the internet age but here’s something interesting in case you have missed it.

From the Internet:-

…it turns out there are now seven individuals out there holding keys to the Internet. In the aftermath of a cataclysmic cyber attack, these members of a “chain of trust” will be responsible for rebooting the Web.

A minimum of five of the seven key holders – one each from Britain, the U.S., Burkina Faso, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada, China, and the Czech Republic – would have to converge at a U.S. base with their keys to restart the system and connect everything once again.

Each key has an encrypted number which is part of the DNSSEC root key that by themselves are useless, but combined they have the ability to restart the Internet.

Most major servers are a part of DNSSEC, as it’s known, and during a major international attack, the system might sever connections between important servers to contain the damage.”

DNSSEC (domain name system security) is a new online security system that ensures people reach a genuine website, rather than a look-alike pirate site.

(Sources here, here and here)

Can you imagine life without the internet?

We use it on a daily basis for work, social interaction, business and entertainment. Imagine if you cannot use the email, watch video on Youtube, update your status on Facebook, write down your thoughts and information on your blog, check on a certain location on Google Map, do online banking, purchases and bill payments, get the latest breaking news, do research. Just imagine how isolated life will be.

Cyberattack is real and it has affected countries as a whole – in 2007, Estonia was under a series of cyber-attacks which crippled the internet across the country. Banks, government departments and the national media all found their websites swamped by a tidal wave of spam which took them down (Source: BBC)

So, no matter where we are in the world – we are all connected to the internet one way or another. It is good to know that ICANN is taking precautions in the event of a major cyberattack (the one that usually comes out in James Bond movies) but what about us, in Malaysia? How well we are with readiness and when it comes to cybersecurity?

In Malaysia, we have CyberSecurity Malaysia which comes under the purview of Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia (MOSTI). CyberSecurity Malaysia also handles MyCERT – The Malaysian Computer Emergency Response Team that provides emergency response to computer security related emergencies as well as assistance in handling incidents such as computer abuses, hack attempts and other information security breaches.

That is fine but what about webmasters, businesses and individuals who let themselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks? I lost count of seeing people connecting to the internet without a proper anti-virus, anti-spam, software updates and firewall in place – even in this internet age. Many of the websites which require people to input sensitive information are still using unsecured webpage (ASTRO finally took up the notice and has secured webpage for account holders but GSC is still stubborn as hell).

The more vulnerable computers out there, it is easier to launch a massive cyber attack. Good knowledge is good but what cannot be excused is ignorance on purpose. We will never know when one will hit us online.

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