Feeds

Kaspersky defends 'unworkable' web passports

Internet driving licence stuck in first gear

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Flamboyant anti-virus guru Eugene Kaspersky has defended his controversial internet passport plans.

Kaspersky, chief exec of malware exterminators Kaspersky Lab, first outlined plans to mandate use of a hardware token-based passport to get online around two years ago. The scheme is designed to deter abusive use of internet connections to send spam, steal data via hacking or participate in denial-of-service attacks. The programme would work in a similar way to how driving licences work in the offline world and would be applied alongside an Internet Interpol as a way of combatting the growing scourge of cybercrime.

"Everyone should and must have an identification, or internet passport," Kaspersky explained. "The internet was designed not for public use, but for American scientists and the US military. Then it was introduced to the public and it was wrong... to introduce it in the same way."

"I'd like to change the design of the internet by introducing regulation - internet passports, internet police and international agreement - about following internet standards. And if some countries don't agree with or don't pay attention to the agreement, just cut them off," the Russian security biz boss added.

Despite criticism, Kaspersky has continued to push the internet passport idea during his frequent trips to high-level government security conferences in Australia, Brussels and most recently to last week's London cyberspace conference. He is rarely challenged on even some of the more obvious downsides of the plan, which seeks to abolish net anonymity and seeks to prohibit use of services including The Onion Router (Tor), which is legitimately used by dissidents and civil rights activists around the world.

Critics, including Bruce Schneier, have torn into the internet passport scheme as unworkable and undesirable.

"Any design of the internet must allow for anonymity," Schneier argues in a lengthy and thorough examination of the idea.

"Universal identification is impossible. Even attribution - knowing who is responsible for particular internet packets - is impossible. Attempting to build such a system is futile, and will only give criminals and hackers new ways to hide.

"Attempts to banish anonymity from the internet won't affect those savvy enough to bypass it, would cost billions, and would have only a negligible effect on security," he concludes, adding that "mandating universal identity and attribution is the wrong goal".

El Reg put this criticism to Kaspersky hoping to secure a better explanation of his thinking. Instead we received a partial response that at least suggested he was open to further dialogue.

In his blog, Bruce Schneier has made some interesting and relevant arguments on the plan to create internet IDs. While I still maintain that this is a manageable solution, I respect Bruce's opinions and encourage the debate surrounding this important and emotive subject.

Schneier is by no means alone in his criticism. Other detractors of the internet passport scheme include security blogger Dancho Danchev, who outlined five reasons why the proposal is bad news in a post on Zdnet's Zero Day blog here. He points out that use of two-factor authentication is no defence against man-in-the-middle attacks as well as the cost and logistical problem involved in giving everyone "internet passports".

In fairness, Kaspersky is far from alone in supporting the scheme, despite its potential difficulties. Other backers of the "driver's licence for the internet" idea include Microsoft's Craig Mundie. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
Forget passwords, let's use SELFIES, says Obama's cyber tsar
Michael Daniel wants to kill passwords dead
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.