National Defense Magazine
“Security needs to be everybody’s concern, and it needs to be much more pervasive not only in the Defense Department or in the U.S. government, but frankly, the private sector and in the general population,” said Vinton Cerf, Google’s vice president and chief Internet evangelist.
The biggest security holes right now are in Internet browsers, Cerf said at the Sixth Annual C5ISR Government and Industry Partnership Summit in Charleston, S.C. on Nov. 28. Browsers such as Firefox, Safari and even Google’s Chrome can be vulnerable to infected websites, and can sometimes store malware onto user’s computers.
“We really need to work on getting technologies in place that will protect those devices that are used by ordinary folk, as well as people who do special things for the government,” said Cerf.
Cerf estimated that there are 3 billion Internet users including those who access it through computers and mobile devices. Of those, about 500 million come from China.There is an enormous investment in the Chinese Internet despite the efforts of its government to deny its citizen’s access to certain elements of it, Cerf said.
The cybertheft of intellectual property originating from China will not stop, Cerf said.
“Those are not going to stop. Motivations are very powerful,” said Cerf, and intellectual property is an attractive target.
To help better protect an entities’ intellectual property, Cerf said Internet users simply need to stop using “stupid” passwords. Using the word “password” would be one example, he said. One solution would be one-time-use passwords. While inconvenient, Cerf said that he sleeps a lot better at night knowing that one-time passwords — which generate new ones after each use — protect him from hackers.
Cerf also discussed StopBadware, a Cambridge, Mass.-based non-profit organization that helps analyze websites that have been compromised with malware. Through Google software, the search engine can often detect when a website has been infected, and once found, sends the website to StopBadware. As an extra layer of protection, once Google software has detected that a certain website has malware, it automatically puts a warning on that page to alert users. Cerf is chairman of the organization.
Another way Google is helping protect the Internet is by opening up the source code for its browser Chrome, and its Android operating system, Cerf said. Users throughout the world can help detect security holes, and if someone discovers a bug, Google will give them a monetary reward.