Looking for a more dangerous Web? The U.S. government might be building it

Is the United States making a more dangerous Web? This is the theory depicted in a recent story by the MIT Technology Review. The story details the history of Stuxnet. You may remember this piece of malware as it made big news in 2010 when it was discovered. These days, the consensus is that Stuxnet was created by the governments of the United States and Israel to attack the industrial equipment needed to build Iran’s budding nuclear program. As the Technology Review story states, Stuxnet may be the first well-known example of a new form of warfare, one in which countries use malware and other computer viruses to attack the computer and security systems of other nations. And the United States might be the leader in this method of virtual warfare.

A more dangerous Internet?

Here’s the fear, as expressed in the Technology Review story. As governments spend a rising amount of dollars to develop malware weapons, are they also making the Internet an even more dangerous place than it already is? Unfortunately, the answer seems to be a clear “yes”. No one knows just how many malware weapons governments have implemented since Stuxnet made the news. But, as the story says, many have certainly done their work without the public hearing about them. That should make any Web surfers feel nervous.

Smartphones are not safe, either

As computer users move more toward mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, so are the makers of malware weapons. The Technology Review story reports that exploits aimed towards mobile operating systems are especially valuable because mobile systems are updated so infrequently. As the report highlights, Apple only sends updates to its iPhone software a few times every year. That leaves the system vulnerable to government that would love to surreptitiously deploy malware such as spyware on the mobile phones of terrorism suspects.

Nothing new?

The Technology Review story ends on a somber note. Maybe, it suggests, these malware weapons aren’t so unusual. Countries across the globe routinely develop new weapons. Malware exploits might be the latest version of an arms race. Unfortunately, consumers might be caught in the crossfire of a Web that’s suddenly become considerably more dangerous.


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