Monday, January 31, 2011

Is Internet Kill Switch A Solution To Cyber Threats?

Internet kill switch (IKS) has been in controversies for long. Legislative exercise to allow President of America to use the IKS in cases of national emergencies has started once again. The crucial question that arises at this time is whether IKS is a solution to growing cyber threats like cyber espionage, cyber warfare and cyber terrorism?

Some experts claim concept of IKS does not exist at all since Internet cannot be killed absolutely by any nation. They have even labeled IKS as a misnomer and suggested that instead of this endemic e-surveillance exercise, countries must concentrate upon better cyber security.

I would not go into the discussion whether IKS can kill or paralyse Internet at all. My limited concern is whether IKS is a solution to growing cyber threats world wide? I believe that IKS is definitely not a substitute for robust and effective cyber security.

While IKS may be a back door attempt to engage in endemic e-surveillance exercises, it has little to do with effective cyber security practices. Cyber criminals all over the world are engaged in stealing sensitive information and compromising more strategic computer systems. Some of them are even stealth in nature with no sign of their existence.

The real threat is from these stealth cyber criminals who have control over many strategic computers. Think about a situation where these cyber criminals get the control of IKS itself. The first such attempt would definitely come from enemy and rouge states. By developing an IKS we would be allowing these enemy states to take control of our cyberspace.

Of course, IKS would be strongly guarded by robust cyber security measures but are these measures sufficient enough? I think they are not because if they are sufficient enough to prevent cyber attacks, we would no more need an IKS. We can deploy the measures meant for IKS itself to guard our own cyberspace from foreign intrusions. Let us think about it before jumping upon the IKS wagon.