You may have heard the rumor that swirled briefly last month about an Internet "kill switch" that could power down the Web in the case of a critical cyber attack. Those rumors turned out to be largely overblown, but 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.
The seven members of this holy order of cyber security hail from around the world and recently received their keys while locked deep in a U.S. bunker. But the team isn't military in nature. The Internet safety program is overseen by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit watchdog group that has access to a security system designed to protect users from cyber fraud and cyber attacks.
Part of ICANN's security scheme is the Domain Name System Security, a security protocol that ensures Web sites are registered and "signed" (this is the security measure built into the Web that ensures when you go to a URL you arrive at a real site and not an identical pirate site). 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.
A minimum of five of the seven keyholders – 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 eveything once again. We're imagining a large medieval chamber filled with techno-religious imagery where these knights cyber must simultaneously turn hybrid thumb drive/skeleton keys in a massive router, filling the room with the blinking light of connectivity.
In reality, it's not so dramatic. The keys are actually smartcards that each contain parts of the DNSSEC root key, which could be thought of as the master key to the whole scheme. But it is interesting to know that there is a group of individuals out there that hold actual, physical keys that would reboot the Internet as we know it. Find out more about these cryptographic keys and how/why they're made here.
I WANT KEY
The one who has the most toys wins.
i can see it now... "Give us the money or NOBODY gets to check facebook!"
Lets go on a quest to throw the keys into Mount Doom, no one should have power to reset the interwebs. That would be like reseting a god.
I'm already working on the Script...at the very least it will show up on Sci-Fi
I can see it now, "damn, 3 of the planes got shot down. Guess we won't be bringing the internet back up."
sorry for double posting, but who has the right to cut connections to servers to 'stem a cyber attack' in the first place? Aren't most servers privately owned? Are they talking about actually cutting the fiber optic backbones of the internet? Why is the internet run by a bunch of computer illiterates...?
This administration was actually pushing for the control to shut down any private networks in case of some ill specified emergency. There was resistance, so it looks like they and other like minded people/governments around the globe decided to just do it anyway.
And in the time of the apocalypse, one man will search for these keys, keys protected by uber Guardians, they will teach him the way of the Warcraft, and he will henceforth be known as Densel..........lvl 46 Paladin!
I give it two months before one of them leaves their key on a train.
"We’re imagining a large medieval chamber filled with techno-religious imagery where these knights cyber must simultaneously turn hybrid thumb drive/skeleton keys in a massive router, filling the room with the blinking light of connectivity."
Exactly what I was thinking...
I guess they'll all have to take a boat to the U.S. or have private jets (non-profit ICANN has plenty I'm sure) or book their tickets at the counter. Hope they all eat tofu and exercise regularly. Pretty important to keep healthy.
THIS IS B-LLSH-T!!!
This is OUR internet. It is NOT their internet!!! We, not them, paid for it. We, not them, developed it. We, not them, expanded it. We, not them, have improved it, and we, not them, have turned it into the most powerful tool known to mankind!!! This FREE EXCHANGE OF INFORMATION cannot be allowed to fall into the hands of ANY group of ANY size!!!
It is completely INSANE to rely on a group of people to do ANYTHING in an emergency, and there is NO EMERGENCY IMAGINABLE, let alone actually feasible, to justify having an internet switch! What could possibly happen in a "cyber-attack" that could justify giving a kill switch or a "reset switch" to a small grup of people?
This must be summarily rejected, and massively protested if allowed to continue!!! It is ILLEGAL and a VIOLATION OF OUR GOD GIVEN HUMAN RIGHTS!!!
Actually, the internet access is considered a "privilege" and not a right. It's not really a free exchange of information either, as you do need to pay for access to the online world. This is far from illegal, but it is a safe precaution to a mass-attack. And if nothing could possibly be so bad as to terminate the internet.. then you have nothing to worry about.
Only thing I see wrong is if someone has the ability to lead such a breach of security, what's to stop them from shutting off the communication lines between these "key holders"?
Actually Finland considers the internet a right. Thus far they are the only country to recognize it as such.
As for all this junk, I say it is time to set up internet v2. Do it like the old days and have it set up as a network of independant servers as a free exchange of information. The infrasturcture is already there we just have to make sure it does not become part of the existing internet
Burkina Faso? WTF? The poorest, most backward psuedo-nation on the planet? Who the hell came up with that incredibly lame idea? Not to mention Trinidad and Tobago.
So, the real players are the other five? With no real redundancy.....
Lets hope it never needs to be used.
You said, "Actually, the internet access is considered a "privilege" and not a right."
Maybe in your country, but in this country, the USofA, we recognize the GOD GIVEN HUMAN RIGHT to access information on the internet! I would suggest you contact your government and DEMAND they treat internet access as the RIGHT it is!!! Even our PRISONERS are allowed access!
You said, " It's not really a free exchange of information either, as you do need to pay for access to the online world."
WRONG! It is a free exchange of information that uses servers that you must pay to use! The internet is free, even if the service provider charges a fee for their service. The information on the internet and the exchange of that information is FREE!
You said, "This is far from illegal, but it is a safe precaution to a mass-attack."
A mass attack? What in the world can you imagine happening as a result of a mass attack of the internet? You are PARANOID!!!
And if you don't own the internet, which neither the government nor the ICANN does, it is certainly not legal for you to shut the internet down, turn it off, or reset it! Can they legally come in your home and reset your computer without your permission? NO! Well, they can't do it to YOUR internet either!
You said, "And if nothing could possibly be so bad as to terminate the internet.. then you have nothing to worry about."
I said the EXACT OPPOSITE!!! That NOTHING COULD BE WORSE than to cut off the internet, which is why you shouldn't give the ability to cut off the internet to ANY group of ANY size!!!
Then you said, "Only thing I see wrong is if someone has the ability to lead such a breach of security, what's to stop them from shutting off the communication lines between these "key holders"?"
YOU ARE PARANOID!!! NOONE is waiting behind the shadows to interrupt the free flow of information in a cyber attack. The governments of the world, however, may not want information to be so free flowing! And while there is NO CYBER AL-CIA'DA, there IS a fully censored MURDEROUS, TORTUROUS, DICTATORSHIP, REGIEMES like China, and more and more government sponsored censorship efforts by so-called free world countries, like Australia, the UK, and the USofA!!! These "key holders" of the internet will become the gatekeepers of the internet! Read their own documents, they talk about it!
You cannot take down the USofA by cyber attack! Planes won't fall out of the sky like Richard Clarke thinks!!! So the fear of having the internet shut off in an cyber attack is NOT justification to giving the internet "switch" to ANYONE else!
But.. I live in Missouri.. and I was not being paranoid. I only said that this was an interesting new layer of security, if a bit messy. I agree that such a cyber attack would be extremely unlikely, but so is a lightning strike shorting out your electronics. I'm guessing that doesn't stop you from using a surge protector though.
These servers are not the internet, so rebooting them would not reboot the internet. These servers are the white and yellow pages of the internet. You put words into them and they give numbers back. If these servers went down the Internet would still be up. The main difference is that people would need to know the address (e.g. 220.127.116.11) of their site instead of the www. __insert site here__ .com words. It would be a pretty large inconvenience, but I think everyone would be able to manage. However we probably wouldn't need to go that far, because all ISPs have many DNS servers which is where most of the names get resolved anyway. This sounds like a good idea for security, but it isn't nearly as big of a deal as the author makes it.
God Given Right? You mean like, when Moses gave us the 10 Commandments, on the back it said "Oh, yeah, and if you follow these, you are guaranteed all the facebook that you want".
The Internet is not a right. Free Assembly is a right. The information on those computers is owned by the person who owns the computer, you do not have 'a right to it'. If they want to share it with you, they can. If they want to charge you for it, they can. If the guy who owns the fiber optics between your computer and his wants to charge you, he can. If he wants to kick you off and not give you access to his fiber optics, he can. That is his right.
If you want to know what your rights are, read the US Constitution. The Google will help you find it online. Inventing yourself the right to new technology every few years is just silly, and doesn't do much for your argument about why this is bad.
this makes no sense how can they shut down the whole internet with there "smart cards". if someone wanted to shut it down they would have to cut every network cable in the world and burn all the wireless routers and shot down the satellites
Yo! Mesh network! Yo! with a once a day refresh ip dns server. Yo! MESHERNET Omega! Gameover ICANN! YO! Unggh! Yo! Unghh!
I can just see it..."Sorry, my pants got washed with the card in the pocket, and now it's all wrinkly." Mankind is doomed because of a laundry mistake.
Just a note to the public.....watch your computers if you have gmail... Major Blud writes "CNN is running an opinion piece on their front page from security technologist Bruce Schneier, in which he suggests that 'In order to comply with government search warrants on user data, Google created a backdoor access system into Gmail accounts. This feature is what the Chinese hackers exploited to gain access.' His article is short on sources, and the common belief is that a flaw in IE was the main attack method. Has this come up elsewhere? Schneier continues, 'Whether the eavesdroppers are the good guys or the bad guys, these systems put us all at greater risk. Communications systems that have no inherent eavesdropping capabilities are more secure than systems with those capabilities built in. And it's bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state.'"
Everyone knows Al Gore controls the internet.
Well, Burkina Faso? WTF? The poorest, most backward psuedo-nation on the planet? Who the hell came up with that incredibly lame idea? Not to mention Trinidad and Tobago.
So, we're gonna get screwed for x amount of days, while these people are notified, prepped, and flown from around the world to get here to help reset the system. In the meantime, hey we all have nothing to do. You bet your butt I aint payin a late fee for anything if they only get 4 out of the 7 for 106 days leaving the rest of us wondering what is going on....
So these serious cyber criminals who have the balls to try to take down the internet wont just kidnap the key holders? Right.............
Now you're done it. I just HAD to go and register so I could post a reply to this.
1) FreeinTX - There is no god, so he didn't give you or anyone else anything.
2) dert18 - These keys are to REBOOT the internet, NOT shut it down. ICANN would "shut" the internet down in the event of large scale attack. ie, the Chinese cyber team tries to take down NATOs advanced warning capability before a first strike movement.
3) avenger09123 - I'm SURE if something like this were to happen, you'd have PLENTY of other things to worry about then paying a late fee.
4) As BR stated, this would only disconnect the DNS servers that give you the NAME of the address instead of just the number. The backbone would still be there (as the military uses IP addresses and not domain names).
5) FreeinTX - And YES.. If the Government decided that it would be a matter of National Security to turn the power off a your house, you can BET YOUR @$$ THEY WOULD. Deal with it. This is the price you pay for living in a FREE COUNTRY.
6) valterhugo & HBowmanMD - Yes, Burkina Fuso and Trinidad. Have you ever looked at a globe? Would you REALLY want the ONLY thing on the planet capable of rebooting the internet stored in the same place? Say, the Hard Rock hotel? Why not make it easier for one nuke to do the job eh?
7) thor0997 & Skeptikor & cjeam - I'm sure the key holders aren't just walking around the streets with the keys in their pockets.
8) FreeinTX - And NO, the internet is not free. You pay for access to an ISP, whom in turn gives you access to the internet through equipment and connections that they pay for. To access information on servers that are paid for by someone else (ever seen a Godaddy commercial?). So, in a sense you are paying for access to your internet provider. You will still have that if ICANN turns off the internet, the only good thing is we won't have to listen to you bitch about it :)
I didn't even know you could turn off the internet. Since the internet is literally a web, it's design is adaptive by nature. Unless every major DNS server all hold an agreement to modify their systems to be able to discontinue services upon the usage of these "keys". If these are US officials then most likely they'll just cut connections in and out from the entire continent and not literally every server.
Another note, since they're capable of disabling major DNSs, who's to say there aren't already alternatives like a mirror of Google's 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124.