Reestablishing trust in the Internet

“The next phase of the internet will be data-centred and connectivity driven. Cloud computing, big data, the Internet of Things; tools which support manufacturing, education, energy, our cars and more. The internet is no longer about emails,” said Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda, in her speech at CeBIT 2014 in Hanover on Monday.

“To make the ‘leap of faith’ into this new world, reliability and trust is a pre-condition. But when even the phone of the Chancellor is not sacred, that trust can never again be taken for granted. Not only that, it is clear that for millions of Germans, and billions around the world, that trust is now missing.”

But how to regain online trust?

“Whatever sector you’re in – online security needs to be part of your business model. A habit as automatic as locking your front door,” she pointed out, adding that security could be Europe’s competitive advantage.

“For a European secure communication network, as Bundeskanzlerin Merkel called for recently, we really need to change our mindset. Not just cutting ourselves of from online innovation: but by tightening protections across the value chain,” she noted.

She also mentioned that the European Commission is working on laws that would improve network and information security in Europe, and they will demand companies and governments to take responsibility for their users’ and citizens’ data. “A voluntary approach is not enough: not any more,” she concluded.

Whether they will succeed in passing said regulation by the end of this year remains to be seen, as there is a natural aversion by some EU states to anything that might make businesses’ work more complicated and costly.

That being said, she isn’t the only one to call for measures to reestablish trust on the Internet. The recently finished first edition of TrustyCon had a multitude of speakers addressing the problem of trust in technology, technology companies, and governments.

But if the changes happen, they won’t be quick.

“The internet is a vast, complex creature,” commented Kaspersky Lab’s senior researcher Roel Schouwenberg. “Restoring trust is going to be a very long and complicated process. There won’t be any quick fixes. Let’s not take short cuts.”

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