The Internet has become a minefield across which it's necessary to tread cautiously.
Threats span both physical and virtual dimensions. Reliance on an intricate mesh of electronic devices and Byzantine cabling structures puts the Web at the mercy of any blow -- including storms in outer space -- that could disrupt countless services now reliant on the Net.
The dangers are virtually legion. As the Web has exploded over the last decade and users have signed on en masse worldwide, the network's infrastructure has reached a breaking point. Protocol capabilities have maxed out (the
assignment of the last remaining IPv4 addresses in 2011 being one example). And the software underlying what was once a restricted research network has been reworked so many times that its coherence has become precarious.
To make matters more alarming, the keepers of Internet infrastructure -- the ISPs -- have in many instances worsened the situation. Consolidation of ownership has limited innovation, and commercial priorities have put network evolution on the back burner.
Add to all this the threats introduced by the many hackers and miscreants who thrive on the Internet, and the situation looks very dire indeed.
Is the picture all bleak? to answer that question, we will take a look in this report at the Internet's weakest links and what, if anything, may be done to strengthen them.
Read the report sequentially, or click specific pages listed below. And please share your thoughts with us on the message boards below.
— Written by Mary Jander, Managing Editor; Kim Davis, Community Editor; and Nicole Ferraro, Editor in Chief, Internet Evolution
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