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Commentary

Why Isn't Internet Infrastructure Security A Bigger Issue?

The ongoing debate and discussion about the domain name server vulnerability disclosed last week may be getting a bit of traction in the world beyond IT, but the size and potential seriousness of the problem ought to raise other questions: Namely, why the security of the Net itself, as well as its users, doesn't loom larger (or at all) on the campaign trails.
The ongoing debate and discussion about the domain name server vulnerability disclosed last week may be getting a bit of traction in the world beyond IT, but the size and potential seriousness of the problem ought to raise other questions: Namely, why the security of the Net itself, as well as its users, doesn't loom larger (or at all) on the campaign trails.The DNS protocol vulnerability affects as much as 80 percent of the server universe.

Which is to say that according to some observers (others disagree) it's a core problem at the heart of the Internet. And the Internet, we hear often enough (and probably say even more often) is at the heart of everything today.

Everything, that is, except the political campaigns and their mass media and coverage.

And, odds are, the situation probably won't change much between now and election day.

For one thing, this clearly is a technical issue, hard to reduce to sound byte (other than incindiary headlines like my current favorite: "Internet flaw could let hackers take over the Web") and nowhere near as attention-grabbing as gas prices, bank failures, wars and rumors of wars.

And it ain't, after all, Meet The IT Press (thankfully!) or Face The Geek Nation that people tune into on Sunday mornings.

But wherever you stand on the seriousness (or less than) of the DNS bug, the fact that a good portion of the IT industry came together tp patch it quickly and unanimously, offered the mainstream press a chance to give the mainstream public a bit of insight into how the Internet works and, once that insight was offered, to press the candidates on their understanding of our era's key technology and what the role of government should -- or shouldn't be -- in securing it.

I mention all of this because even as they were essentially ignoring the DNS problem, the mainstream press was most definitely covering a tech-problem story, the iPhone "disaster."

I'm not (well, not really) advocating that candidates should be giving speeches on sever security questions or that mass "news" outlets give over chunks of their front pages (as opposed to "tech Columns") to detailed examinations of technical issues.

But, at least once in awhile, it couldn't hurt. The DNS problem was one of those onces in awhile.

If you're not sure about your DNS server status, a DNS checker is here, on Dan Kaminsky's blog.

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