Inadequate Internet protocols and slow R&D spending point to potential Web catastrophe, says Akamai chief scientist

Prof. Leighton says that a lot more R&D needs to be done quickly to begin the process of shoring up how the Internet works to better protect its users.

Read the full text transcript of the podcast.

There's a looming threat to Internet commerce and general Web usage the world over. The underlying protocols that the modern Internet is built upon are inadequate to the task of providing secure and reliable packet traffic.

Phishing and pharming are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential for cyber crime and even terrorism. Because the world is growing more dependent on the Internet for more aspects of business, government, communications, and broad societal functions, this vulnerability to criminal and terrorist attack could have dire consequences.

While the U.S. government has cut basic research into creating the next generations of Internet technology, a time bomb of potentially catastrophic proportions is ticking away.

This all according to Professor Tom Leighton, co-founder and Chief Scientist at Akamai Technologies in Cambridge, Mass. He’s also professor of Applied Mathematics at MIT and -- especially in the context of this discussion -- the former chairman of the Cyber Security Sub-Committee of the President’s IT Advisory Committee (PITAC). That ad hoc group made a series of recommendations last year on what the country should do to ameliorate the risks of a loose-lipped Internet stack, but the recommendations remain largely un-acted upon.

I recently interviewed Prof. Leighton in an Akamai-sponsored BriefingsDirect podcast. Together we explore the serious situation around cyber security, and what needs to be done by both the business and U.S. government to reduce the risk to the global Internet infrastructure. Prof. Leighton says that a lot more R&D needs to be done quickly to begin the process of shoring up how the Internet works to better protect its users.

Have a listen to the podcast, or read the transcript here. Podcast sponsor: Akamai Technologies.