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Internet needs ‘cyber fire department’ to protect web users, claims Vint Cerf

04 Sep 2013
Vint Cerf on stage at the Campus Party in London

The internet needs a "cyber fire department" to tackle online issues as and when they arise so that risks found on websites or services do not spread.

Father of the internet and chief internet evangelist for Google, Vint Cerf, made the call during a speech at Telefonica’s Campus Party event in London, arguing that a response force would help protect those without the means to defend themselves.

“In the internet environment there are many fires caused by cyber attacks – trojans, malwares, worms, DDOS and so forth – and many small businesses and individuals are not prepared to respond to that, or don’t have the capability,” he said at the event, attended by V3.

“What we need is a cyber fire department to defend us from attacks – not a cyber police department, as sometimes an issue is just a mistake. However, if it turns out, with evidence, that it was a criminal issue, then you would pass it on to the cyber police, to expand the metaphor."

Cerf also touched on issues around net neutrality, arguing that the internet must remain a free and open place to operate, although he acknowledged that as new and evolving threats emerge there is a need for greater government co-operation.

“While there are lots of technology issues with the expanding internet, the harder problems are around policy as there is a great deal of tension about who is in charge of the internet and who should control its evolution,” he said.

“Keeping the internet as open and free from control as possible is very important. But, we do have to cope with abuses on the network and figure out the people harming other people or infrastructures like power grids and transportation, we have to have an international agreement on tackling these abuses.”

Speaking more broadly about the future of the internet, Cerf said it was vital that effort is applied to getting people online in new markets such as Africa and the Pacific islands, touting the efforts of Google's own Project Loon as an example of how this could be achieved.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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