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Folly, Fear, and the Internet’s Future

Time flies. The present roars past us, bringing us to the brink of the future before we know it. During the dial-up era, we couldn’t imagine computers in our pockets or messaging everywhere we went.

As the Internet developed, the discussions around its future evolved. We wondered how it would look in “the future” – that distant land of possibilities.

The most honest answer was (and is), “Who knows?”

The future is doomed to remain an enigma, but that shouldn’t keep us from investigating it. In the spirit of this week’s post on National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (Predictions for Tomorrow’s Internet), we’ll give in to speculation, and hopefully emerge a bit wiser.

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT devices have already started to take over our homes – Gartner, a well-respected research company, estimates that there will be over 8 billion IoT devices in use by the end of the year. Samsung is planning to connect all of its IoT devices through the SmartThings Cloud. All of our smart devices are getting smarter and more interconnected, and that trend shows no signs of stopping.

That future will be one where convenience is a given. Everything will be available for you to alter and access. But “convenient” isn’t synonymous with “better.” As we’ve mentioned before, IoT devices can be easy targets for hackers, and the problem isn’t just that they’re easily hacked. They can also be co-opted to attack other people’s systems. In other words, these devices will make our lives easier, but only if we take serious measures to secure them.

Blockchain

Blockchain is a decentralized technology that uses an encrypted ledger to record transactions. Once you learn exactly what blockchain is, it’s clear why it’s the nexus of conversations about the Internet’s future.

For example, this technology has an opportunity to shake up the financial technology industry. After all, banks are the analog to blockchain’s encrypted ledger, which means that we could reimagine the roles of banks thanks to blockchain.

Fintech isn’t the only area where blockchain could be a game-changer. Blockchain can be used for any type of transaction, including medical records and computer code. A person could create a “block” with material that can only be downloaded a certain number of times. This is a measure that can protect the intellectual property rights of developers.  

Security Threats

In the future, the Internet will become more available and better-understood, but security threats won’t go away. In fact, the more integrated the Internet becomes in our lives, the more hackers have to gain by entering the systems we use for banking, security, and utilities.

Part of this is because the companies we give large amounts of data to don’t always implement robust security measures to protect it. Additionally, a startling number of us don’t take our own online security seriously. This leaves everyone vulnerable in the present day, and this issue will be compounded in the future.

Biometrics will play a key role in addressing at least some of these threats, specifically in regards to protecting users from hackers. They provide a relatively convenient and secure way to authenticate identity, and that capability has never been more important.

The Internet of the future will be more integrated and powerful. It will be the engine for algorithms and everyday objects, both of which are getting smarter thanks to greater connectivity and technological advancement. Here’s hoping we do the same.

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