CyLab: The Internet Is Becoming a Sick and Dangerous Place. How Can We Make It Better?

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You know that feeling when you start something with a good intention but it ends up doing grievous harm to humanity? Internet is that kind of invention. The initial idea was to build a network, fill it with loads of information. Even get answers to all sorts of queries like how to change Cox Wi-Fi password. Connect with the world. But look what this invention has led us to.

When you connect your PC to the internet, in a matter of minutes, someone can take over. It may not be yours anymore. This person can use your PC to bombard it with spam, steal identities, hold certain websites hostage, and not to mention slow down your computer. Every day, this happens to 300,000 computers that are linked to the Internet but lack security features such as a firewall, an anti-virus, or an up-to-date operating system. It takes the bad guys around 5 minutes to take over a device that’s vulnerable. These bad guys are getting smarter each day!

How Can We Fix the Escalating Sickness of the Internet?

To beat them, we need something different, something more powerful, a strategy that alters how computers interact with the Internet. Companies and organizations all across the world are working on long-term solutions, but Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab, the world’s largest Internet-security research centre, is developing one of the most extreme proposals.

CyLab, founded in 2003, includes a Pittsburgh site with 70 faculty researchers and 140 graduate students, as well as satellite locations in Korea and Japan. Its strategy is to make the Internet work like a biological organism that defends itself against attacks in the same manner that a healthy body defends itself against a cold. in other words, they want to make it work as a biological entity.

According to CyLab, these are some suggested remedies to fix an Internet that is becoming worse by the minute: building resistance to attacks and identifying their sources.


Make Software More Diverse

Every software has some flaw that hackers discover eventually. CyLab researchers are researching how plants and animals evolve in response to disease in the hopes of replicating such processes by developing software that adjusts when attacked. CyLab envisions designing software or complete OSs that would change their behavior or execute instructions in a different order every time they are run. Each copy of the software, for example, may use a slightly different technique for defining security zones.

Tracing the Origin

Even to this date, the origin of malware is hard to detect. Data packets carry information across the Internet, each bearing an IP address, that identifies the machine from which it came. Unfortunately, it’s simple to spoof your IP address to conceal the data’s true origin. Anyone can do it, it’s no rocket science.

CyLab’s Fast Internet Traceback (FIT) technology might help. It can track each packet as it passes across the Internet, “like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs.” As each packet passed through a router, a computer that directs and relays Internet traffic, a little marker would be placed to it. These indicators would allow computer forensics experts to identify the routers through which a packet had traveled. They will be able to track it back to the machine that supplied the data in the first place. Isn’t this cool!

However, for this technology to be implemented, at least a third of the Internet’s (roughly 100K) routers will need to be modified. This process could take years and cost billions of dollars.

Other Solutions That Protect Internet Users Online

Besides CyLabs, other organizations are playing their part in keeping us secure out in the digital world with solutions like:


Developed by Microsoft research, it’s an app that runs in the background of a PC and monitors suspicious activity. When the application detects an assault, it sends out a security alert to the rest of the network’s computers. They then develop a filter to recognize any modifications of the attack and prevent them from executing without human intervention. Humans just cannot be involved if you want to contain fast-spreading attacks. They take far too long to look at stuff.


Shibboleth is an app developed by Internet2 that sends the bare minimum of personal information required to sign on to a website or complete a transaction without requiring you to reveal your identity. It is already in use by the students of Penn State University to access a free legal music download site. Without matching their names to the songs they’ve downloaded; Shibboleth determines that they are the enrolled users. giving out less information reduces your chance of identity theft.

Final Words

Keeping our identifies safe, protecting our devices from getting hacked, and staying protected from the vices of the online world are all far-fetched goals. Although a lot of work is in progress to keep cybercriminals at bay, they just keep getting better and better. Cyber crooks are spread everywhere and we need more organizations like CyLab to come up with a proactive strategy to outrun them.

Disclaimer: The article is a sponsored post. The views writer has expressed in this article are based his/her own knowledge and research

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