Vint Cerf has a few titles under his belt. Currently Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, Cerf is also considered “father of the Internet.”
Along with Bob Kahn, Cerf helped develop Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, or TCP/IP.
The suite of communications protocols used to connect network devices, TCP/IP implements layers of protocol stacks, with each layer providing clearly-defined network services to the upper layer.
As one of the developers of the Internet’s basic communication language, Cerf was intimately involved in several of the early decisions that impacted the Internet’s growth rate.
Speaking recently with Forbes’ Ewan Spence at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, Cerf acknowledged that the decision to not pursue a patent for Internet protocols was a conscious one in an effort to lower the barriers for the now 3.5 billion people worldwide who do not have reliable access.
“We didn’t want any computer companies to have an excuse to reject the use of the Internet protocols on the grounds that they had their own proprietary systems,” he said.
“We didn’t want them to have any excuse to not implement the TCP/IP protocols.”
His latest ...
During her 2013 induction into the Internet Hall of Fame, Anne-Marie Lowinder of Sweden recalled her historic work in improving Internet security. Lowinder has dedicated her career to improving security to Domain Name Systems and was instrumental in jumpstarting the implementation of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC).
In this exclusive video, Lowinder discusses not only DNS security, but the challenges of maintaining workable communication while improving security on these sites, what this means for the future of the Internet, and what it was like to be a woman working on the Internet during the technology’s early days.
As an early pioneer in Internet security, Stephen Kent says, he and others never envisioned the Internet would become such a key piece of infrastructure.
“The range of things we were worried about was relatively small,” he said. “We were concerned about nation states intercepting communications and possibly acting as a man in the middle. So our goal was to figure out how to design standards that would alleviate those concerns. That was in the good old days, when email was a text message. You didn’t even have attachments that could reach out and bite you. It was before the World Wide Web.”
Now of course, the cybersecurity challenges are “absolutely enormous,” he says, and the Internet of Things is downright scary.
Moving forward, he says, one of the great challenges is figuring out what really is and isn’t a threat.
For instance, he says, when ecommerce first took off, a lot of effort went into developing cryptographic security to protect credit card information as it traveled from a consumer’s computer to a merchant. But most big security breaches today involve hackers getting credit card information after it is stored in merchants’ computers.
“The catch is, if I am sitting at home using the Internet, when I send my credit card information to Amazon, it’s not in a lot of danger of getting intercepted. It’s in the greatest danger once it gets there.
“This is an example of where we developed a solution to the concerns we could...
One does not have to get very far into a conversation with Stephen Kent to understand how he made it into the Internet Hall of Fame.
Ask him how it all started, and you will find his path from Loyola University in his hometown of New Orleans to the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the 1970s was not the result of special guidance or connections from advisors or mentors. Rather, it came through his own initiative.
“I really wanted to be in computer science,” he said. “But we didn’t have any faculty members [at Loyola] who were graduates of prestigious universities. They couldn’t offer a lot of advice. So I went to the library and sat down with the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Journal. I looked at about two decades worth of issues. This was 1974, and I created essentially a manual spreadsheet of where the authors were. Three schools clearly stood out: MIT, Carnegie Mellon and Stanford.”
Not everyone saw his potential. Stanford, for instance, took a pass. But MIT and Carnegie Mellon both accepted him; he chose MIT. He was one of only 20 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellows in Math and Computer Science that year.
The rest is history, as they say, as he landed in a security research group that included Michael Schroeder, who later co-authored (with Roger Needham) the first scholarly paper on key management protocols.
He ended up earning acclaim of his own after the head of the group asked him to do his...
One of the Web’s original founders is concerned about the direction his creation is taking.
Twenty-eight years ago this month, British computer scientist and Internet Hall of Fame inductee Sir Tim Berners-Lee submitted his proposal for what is now the World Wide Web.
In a column published recently by The Guardian, Berners-Lee acknowledged that in the nearly three decades since, three particular trends have emerged that he believes may jeopardize the web’s ability to be a tool used for the greater good.
Specifically at issue for Berners-Lee are the widespread collection of personal data, the ease with which incorrect information is rapidly disseminated and the lack of transparency and oversight when it comes to political ads. Although he admits that the problems – and the necessary solutions – are complex, he is quick to point out that there are ways to address these issues moving forward.
“We must work together with web companies to strike a balance that puts a fair level of data control back in the hands of people, including the development of new technology such as personal ‘data pods’ if needed and exploring alternative revenue models such as...