Sunday, March 12, 2006

Microsoft About To Save The Net?

Lawrence Lessig has written a very interesting article for wired.

We who celebrate the brilliance of the Internet - and in particular, its end-to-end open design - tend to ignore the maliciousness that increasingly infects it. The Net was built on trust, and it lacks an adequate mechanism to prevent fraud. Thus, it's no surprise that phishing expeditions nearly doubled last year - and phishing is just one of many evils proliferating online. It's only a matter of time until some virus takes out millions of computers or some senator's identity is stolen. When that happens, the liberties inherent in the Internet's early design will erode even faster than the liberties said to be protected by the Constitution.
The InfoCard system will first be distributed with Vista, Microsoft's newest Windows OS, set for release this year. The system effectively adds an "identity layer" to the Internet, accomplishing what security companies have been promising for years: making it difficult to falsify an identity and easy to verify your own. Here's how it works: Users' computers (and potentially cell phones and other devices) will hold files called InfoCards that give encrypted sites access to authenticated information about the user. An American Express InfoCard, for example, might carry your name, address, and account number, all authenticated by American Express. When a Web site requests personal data, you choose whether to release that information, securely and with the verification of the card's issuer.

The description of the InfoCard system isn't entirely clear to me (especially not how its supposed to curb phishing) - but I totally agree with his assesment ...