Back to the Future

Part 3: Back to the Future

(Did you miss Part 1 and/or 2? Click here for part 1 and here for part 2 to catch up!)

I apologize for this, but I have to jump back to the beginning again. You see, the Internet was designed during the cold war, and a prime driver was the ability to sustain communication in the event of a nuclear attack. Back then, communication was usually point-to-point. DARPA and many smart people gave us “packet-switched networks.” It meant that a piece of data could flow through different paths and reassemble on the receiving side. This meant if communication hubs were taken out of service between you and where you were trying to communicate, due to, say, a nuclear bomb being dropped, your packets could now travel a different route and your Twitter post about the latte you purchased this morning would stick.

The lesson here is age-old; bolting on security after the fact is always more costly, time-consuming and less effective than baking it in from the start. The first email servers on the Internet were open relay by design. That meant anyone could send email through your email server to someone else. After all, the idea was sustained communications, so if my email server went down, why not use one of the other available email servers?

Unfortunately, as with many well-intentioned plans, it fails to account for bad people. Soon spam became a well-known term to define something other than the delicious food of previous association. Domain Name Services (which translates the web sites we type into IP addresses) is not secure. It has suffered from numerous attacks. The weakness of this core protocol has been known for a very long time and a secure DNS (DNSSEC) was proposed in 2005 via RFC 4033. You can go here to see how that has been going.

In general, the US Root DNS servers were operational in 2010. DNSSEC does not in any way totally fix DNS, as in recent months there has been a rash of DNS Amplification Denial of Services attacks. DNS is just one small area of vulnerability; the list of protocol weaknesses and associated attack vectors is legion.

In short, what we have put in place are insecure computing devices connected together using insecure protocols over a fabric connected to support some of our most critical dependencies and let anyone in the world – good or bad – have access to them.

I remember watching a video with one of the engineers that worked on the initial Internet design and protocols. He stated that, “If you would have told us that we would be putting critical infrastructure on a public network, we would have just laughed – that will never happen.” There was a completely different mindset back in those days. Business standards existed beyond the “want of the moment.” Thought was given to business risk, mostly driven top-down. Today, one could argue business risk is driven bottom-up and in the Information Security world, I would posit that 80-90% of InfoSec programs are driven in exactly that same direction.

About the Author

Martin Zinaich is the information security officer for the City of Tampa’s Technology and Innovation department. The insights in this article were shared at a Wisegate member event, where senior IT professionals discussed these pressing security issues.


  • 12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    Understanding crime statistics in your industry and area is crucial for making important decisions about your security budget. With so much information out there, how can you know which statistics to trust? Read Now

  • Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    In alignment with the state of Mississippi’s mission of “Empowering Mississippi citizens to stay connected and engaged with their government,” Salient's CompleteView VMS is being installed throughout more than 150 state boards, commissions and agencies in order to ensure safety for thousands of constituents who access state services daily. Read Now

  • Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    This year’s Live From GSX program was a rousing success! Again, we’d like to thank our partners, and IPVideo, for working with us and letting us broadcast their solutions to the industry. You can follow our Live From GSX 2023 page to keep up with post-show developments and announcements. And if you’re interested in working with us in 2024, please don’t hesitate to ask about our Live From programs for ISC West in March or next year’s GSX. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX
  • People Say the Funniest Things

    People Say the Funniest Things

    By all accounts, GSX version 2023 was completely successful. Apparently, there were plenty of mix-ups with the airlines and getting aircraft from the East Coast into Big D. I am all ears when I am in a gathering of people. You never know when a nugget of information might flip out. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems, an industry-leading manufacturer of pedestrian and vehicle secure entrance control access systems, is pleased to announce the release of its groundbreaking V07 software. The V07 software update is designed specifically to address cybersecurity concerns and will ensure the integrity and confidentiality of Automatic Systems applications. With the new V07 software, updates will be delivered by means of an encrypted file. 3

  • XS4 Original+

    XS4 Original+

    The SALTO XS4 Original+ design is based on the same proven housing and mechanical mechanisms of the XS4 Original. The XS4 Original+, however, is embedded with SALTO’s BLUEnet real-time functionality and SVN-Flex capability that enables SALTO stand-alone smart XS4 Original+ locks to update user credentials directly at the door. Compatible with the array of SALTO platform solutions including SALTO Space data-on-card, SALTO KS Keys as a Service cloud-based access solution, and SALTO’s JustIn Mobile technology for digital keys. The XS4 Original+ also includes RFID Mifare DESFire, Bluetooth LE and NFC technology functionality. 3

  • Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden CV-7600 High Security Card Readers

    Camden Door Controls has relaunched its CV-7600 card readers in response to growing market demand for a more secure alternative to standard proximity credentials that can be easily cloned. CV-7600 readers support MIFARE DESFire EV1 & EV2 encryption technology credentials, making them virtually clone-proof and highly secure. 3