December 10, 2014 10:00 ET

IID Predicts a Far More Closed Internet in 2016

Prognostication Stems From Government Surveillance Backlash and Threats From Rogue Nations

TACOMA, WA--(Marketwired - Dec 10, 2014) - IID, the source for clear cyberthreat intelligence, today announced that it predicts by end of 2016 the Internet will become far more restricted and less open. Based on internal research, IID foresees that in a couple of years many Internet users will employ encryption to obfuscate their data, and countries will strategically block access to Internet traffic originating from the networks of nations engaged in hostile cyberactivity on a large scale.

"It saddens us to make this prediction, but the perceived threat of cybercrime, cyberespionage and cyberterrorism will become so great as to necessitate a significant closing off of the Internet for most Internet users," said IID President and CTO Rod Rasmussen. "This will forever change the Internet's greatest asset and promise as an almost universally accessible, open clearinghouse of global information and ideas."

As with past predictions, IID isn't interested in making safe, short-range prognostications whose outcomes are already inevitable. That's why its latest forecast is two years out from now just as its predictions for 2014 and 2015 were. IID expects the closing off of the Internet to occur on two fronts:

The Age of Encryption
IID anticipates the majority of Internet traffic to be encrypted by 2016, as people and corporations take steps to ensure their privacy. The company attributes this to recent reports of national governments and intelligence agencies around the world conducting intensive electronic surveillance of pedestrian civilian Internet activities.

As a result, government intelligence agencies will have much greater difficulty identifying and intercepting communications from terrorists who are organizing attacks online. Moreover, cybercriminals hatching various online attacks and pedophiles trading online child abuse materials will have free rein to operate without fear of detection, while anti-spam scanning services will fail to catch massive amounts of spam before it lands in inboxes.

To counter these impediments, government organizations will look to develop new ways to subvert encryption. As a means of prioritizing what files need to be decrypted, agencies will likely hack ISPs, citizens and the cloud itself to get better visibility as to when certain encrypted data is at rest and when it is actively being viewed by suspected bad actors. Governments will also look to laws and regulations that limit the use of encryption or require mandatory access to keys. Expect hosting companies and ISPs to be at the center of government activities, both at the legal/policy-making levels and on the front lines of the "cyber battlefield."

The Balkanization of the Internet
By 2016, countries everywhere will strategically block Internet access to and from other nations suspected of industrial or governmental cyber-espionage and other online criminal activity.

Society is waking up to the grave dangers of interconnecting all devices via the Internet of Things, especially as more and more corporations have sensitive data compromised, stolen, and even published on the Internet as the result of widespread hacking from overseas. Ultimately, most countries will conclude that the need to protect their national assets effectively trumps the "free and open" principles on which the Internet has operated for decades.

In response to these closed Internet ecosystems, malicious hackers will be forced to change their tactics. They will likely rely more on watering hole attacks, whereby hackers tamper with third-party sites that countries normally trust, so when users visit these compromised sites they are infected with malware. Or they might intensify their use of indirect methods of cyberattacks such as booby-trapped emails containing Trojan horse malware.

Already certain countries including Russia, Germany, and Brazil have looked into the possibility of closing off the Internet by requiring its citizens' data to be stored on servers only within their own countries' borders -- making that information far less accessible to outsiders. China already has a largely closed Internet, which it routinely monitors and censors on a massive scale. So the tools, infrastructure and systems needed to wall off the Internet already exist.

"In many ways, I think we're at the cusp of the end of the Internet as we've known it, and that is unfortunate," said Rasmussen. "This, like many of IID's past predictions, is one we hope we are wrong about, but the outlook is not good."

About IID
IID is a cybersecurity company. It flagship product, ActiveTrust, adds clarity to cyberthreat intelligence by distilling threat data from thousands of trusted sources, and fusing it into actionable intelligence delivered to security professionals and automated infrastructure. Fortune 500 companies and U.S. government agencies leverage IID to detect and mitigate threats, making ActiveTrust the world's largest commercial threat data exchange. For more, go to

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