Governments could use the influx of hyper-sophisticated malwares targeting their systems as a justification to push through draconian reforms that will end core internet freedoms, like the ability to browse anonymously, according to security firm PandaLabs.
PandaLabs' security expert, Luis Corrons told V3 the recent slew of attacks stemming from China listed in the firm's Q1 2013 Threat Report has resulted in a dangerous change in attitude by many governments regarding how much control of the internet they want.
"The first quarter of 2013 has been a really interesting one for cyber war. It's mainly about China, there are other elements but China's the main one. Whenever we see an attack on a company – or a government contractor or anything where someone has been hacked somehow and information's been stolen – most of the accusations go to China, which is perhaps unfair as most major governments are doing this in some way," he said.
"These kind of attacks are really professional; that's why it's difficult to see who's behind them. But when you look at them it's clear they have lots of money behind them. So they are getting more complex and they will get more sophisticated, but this will not just happen with China, it'll happen with every major player, like the United States for example.
This could create a desire for control of the internet, Corrons warned:
"My main concern is what this is going to mean for the rest of the internet users, for the wider community. I'm afraid this could result in changes to the internet we know and the freedoms we have may not be there anymore."
Corrons said that while the reforms may be slow, many governments like the US have already begun testing the water, toying with new technologies like electronic online passports.
"I don't have a crystal ball to see what's going to happen in the near future, but there are already people talking about electronic passports, making it so that you need some sort of ID to connect to the internet," he said.
"I think they will try and go this way, to have some control of the internet, which in my mind is really pointless and useless because you're only going to control the good citizens who go to the internet with their ID. Any criminals are not going to use that, they'll go over or around it to be anonymous, as they already do."
The right to surf the web anonymously is one of many online freedoms currently being debated by the European Commission and the UK government. Another key freedom being discussed is web users' right to be forgotten. Earlier this year, despite widespread calls for the freedom, representatives from the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and European Data Protection Supervisor said the right to be forgotten is impossible to guarantee.
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