Better Internet Security Means Technological Breakthroughs

According to the Kansas City InfoZine, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's briefing on cyber security and the protection of U.S. infrastructure, University of Illinois computer science professor Carl Gunter said more efficient Internet security could improve the quality of living while reducing its cost.

Gunter said if more efficient Internet security techniques could be developed, assisted living programs, emergency response efforts and the cost of household electricity, among other fields, could be improved. Gunter described a scenario where a patient's medical information could be instantly transferred to hospitals and other health care providers from their homes. Such a system, which hinges on better Internet security, could take frequent, efficient readings of an individual's vital signs, which would be particularly helpful to sleep apnea and diabetes patients.

In a similar scenario, Gunter described how improved Internet security would allow for networked electrical meters, or "smart meters," that automatically measure and report a household's electricity consumption, and because electricity is more expensive at certain times of the day, the smart meter would notify consumers of peak usage time, allowing people to "shop for power."

Emergency response networks would also benefit from improved Internet security, Gunter said, noting that the only communication system to withstand Hurricane Katrina was a surveillance camera network. However, Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute senior staff member Howard Lipson cautioned that "the Internet wasn't design to resist highly untrustworthy users. You can't be surprised when we apply all these high-level functions to the Internet, and there are security problems."

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