Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The Internet Is in Danger of Collapsing

Internet is a victim of its own success
Bobbie Johnson
Tuesday September 14, 2004
The Guardian

It is the news that internet users do not want to hear: the worldwide web is in danger of collapsing around us.
Patrick Gelsinger, the chief technology officer for computer chip maker Intel, told a conference in San Francisco that the internet could no longer cope with the traffic streaming across its network.
Mr Gelsinger said the internet's infrastructure was based on a 30-year-old model and could not manage today's heavy workload and remain secure.
"We're running up on some architectural limitations," he said.
He outlined plans to build a new network that will overlay and strengthen the existing system.
"These new smart services could allow the internet to detect and warn of worm attacks on its own," he said.
With spam now accounting for 80% of all email traffic and the number of viruses and worms increasing, there is growing concern over the internet's underlying stability.
The volume of web users has increased tenfold in the past decade, and experts predict it will continue to grow at a rapid pace - particularly as new technology takes hold in developing countries.
Mr Gelsinger's concerns were reflected by other experts at the Intel developer forum.
"I think the net is still pretty primitive; we're in the stone age in respect to networking," Vint Cerf, regarded by many as the father of the internet, told the conference.
"There is a great deal more that has to be done; some of the fundamental limitations of the net are architectural."
The comments are a blow to an industry regaining its footing after the dotcom crash of 2000, but critics have attacked Intel's plans as corporate jabber.
Intel's blueprint - dubbed the "Intelnet" by sceptics - is based on a prototype being developed by the Planet Lab project, which is funded by Intel.
The new network, which will include a filtering system to kill viruses before they attack computers, is backed by organisations including Cambridge University, Hewlett-Packard and American telecommunications giant AT&T.
The claims come as police in Germany bring charges of sabotage against Sven Jaschan, the teenage author of the Sasser virus, which in May compromised the security of millions of computers running Microsoft's Windows operating system.
It is not the first time such pronouncements have been made about the security of the internet, but Mr Gelsinger's remarks have caused controversy among those who claim it is scaremongering.
"There's more than a nugget of truth in what he's saying, but we don't need to replace the internet," said Jim Page, the technical director of Email Systems, an email filtering and security company.
"What they're talking about is great news for Intel commercially, but it's not an end-of-the-world scenario."