- The Internet Is Too Internationalized To Be Controlled
- The Internet Is Too Interconnected to Be Controlled
- The Internet Is Too Filled with Hackers to Be Controlled
The Internet Is Too Filled with Hackers to Be Controlled
Mann admits that software can be hackedbut states that hardware can't. Not true. Here's why.
First, the DirecTV hardware hack. Any hardware can emulate the functions of a hardware component and, through emulation override, bypass the protections. This is what happened with DirecTV. Their box has a card that allows users to receive premium channels (HBO, Showtime, pay-per-view, and so on). This permission is hardwired onto the cards by smart card writers. These writers enabled hackers to read and write to the smart card, allowing them to change subscription models to receive all the channels. Since the technology of satellite television is broadcast only, meaning that you can't send information to the satellite, the system requires a phone line to communicate with DirecTV. The hackers could rewrite their smart cards, receive all the channels, and then unplug their phone linesleaving no way for DirecTV to track the abuse.
The folks at DirecTV didn't sit on their hands. They built a mechanism into their system that allowed the updating of these smart cards through the satellite stream. Every receiver was designed to "apply" these updates to the cards. DirecTV applied updates that looked for hacked cards, and then attempted to destroy the cards by writing updates that disabled them. The hacker community replied with yet another piece of hardware, an "unlooper" that repaired the damage. The hackers then designed software that Trojanized the card, removing the capability of the receivers to update the card. DirecTV could only send updates to the cards, and then require the updates to be present in order to receive video. Each month or so, DirecTV would send an update. 10 or 15 minutes later, the hacking community would update the software to work around the latest fixes.
The war between the hackers and DirecTV goes on. But the ongoing battle proves that even hardware can be hacked. Even the DVD encryption methods were broken with DeCSS. In fact, any piece of hardware that contains a microchipeven hard drivescan be emulated and the encryption scheme overridden.
Mann admits that even if the perfect encrypted hardware scheme can be created, it would be so cumbersome to users that manufacturers would be forced to remove it. Which by the way, is proven by history. Consumer shy away from products that are inconvenient to use. Mann says that the market speaks through the manufacturers. Not sothe market speaks through the consumers.
Finally, Mann doesn't take into account the newest use of wireless technologythe neighborhood LAN. An underground movement is starting to take hold in metropolitan areas. The free Net crowd calls them "free metro wireless data networks." The oppositionmainly the multi-billion-dollar wireless providers like AT&Tcall them "parasitic grids." Using the home wireless LANs that can reach up to 800 feet, neighborhoods are setting up wireless networks in which members can share information between their computers; in effect, creating a private intranet.
Those networks are open to anyone who comes within the LAN's range (or cloud) and allows for unfettered data transfers. These private intranets are a microcosm of the global Internet itself. And like the Internet, they can be a small part of an aggregate network that's impossible to find and regulate. In the final analysis, the Net will be uncontrollable and information will be shared, unfettered by those who wish to control the information that flows through it.
Information just wants to be free!