You unlock this page with a browser and a destination. Beyond it is another page - a page of sound, a page of sight, a page of media. You're moving into a land of both sites and content, of downloads and streaming. You've just crossed over into the Internet.
Submitted for your consideration. The time, a weekend in the now. The place, East Point Georgia; located southwest of Atlanta in Fulton county. Living among this population of 39,595, a mother, two daughters and three identical cell phones. These women will take a familiar journey and arrive at an unfamiliar place. Unknown to them, there are unpublished stops along the highways between cell towers and websites. These women will discover these digital way stations, here in the Internet.
The phone rings at the Associated Press. On the end of the line is 26-year-old Candace Sawyer. Ms Sawyer begins to share a strange tale of an encounter she, her sister and mother had on their way to facebook.com. The story begins as many do. Ms Sawyer one Saturday morning decided to visit her Facebook page using a recently acquired Nokia phone. After typing in the site name, the login/password was bypassed and she was presented with a page that was familar, yet not what she was expecting. The number of friends and the faces were incorrect along with other oddities. Her quantum leap moment came when she looked at the profile picture. Clearly, she was not he!
Candace logged out and asked her sister Mari if she was having similar problems with her phone. Mari gave it a whirl and also landed on a strange page. Finally, Candace asked her mother Fran (who had never used facebook) to test her phone. Fran was whisked into the account of a woman from Indiana. To capture this H.G. Wells moment, the women sent an email from this parallel universe to one of their own accounts.
This peculiar journey into another world was not a case of malicious phishing or "magical" cell phones. This stop along the Internet speedway belonged to an idiosyncratic cellular network design, which, in very rare situations, incorrectly routes data. Basically, a segment of the Internet lost track of who was whom and what belonged where. As a result these women found themselves viewing other people's digital property. The good news according to security experts is that the design has been addressed and encrypted sites would be immune to this kind of problem. The AP Facebook story outlines a very rare glitch that unintentionally revealed private data. Most of the time however, landing on the wrong page is deliberate and often harmful.
Security is the single most important challenge facing the Internet. The wired Internet, mobile Internet, connected devices and sites are expanding globally, rapidly. As they do, we become exposed to unintended and increasingly intended sleight of "site" by hackers. The New York times recently reported that the most commonly used password is "123456" followed by "12345." Both bested "password," which was fourth. The Internet should be simple to use and the web sites we enjoy trustworthy, secure, and difficult to hack.
In the wide world of Application Delivery Networking, we think a lot about how to prevent malicious attacks on websites, mitigate the impact of malware, ensure secure encrypted connections, and validate user access. However, when it comes to the cat-and-mouse game of security, the first click may be the most important in the chain of defense. The one surfing the web has to learn to read the conditions. The Internet is filled with destructive email riptides, deceptive web-page undertows, and sharks hunting for vulnerable prey. Successfully navigating the web can best be accomplished with three words, trust but verify.
There is a world wide web beyond that which is known to man. It is a web as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between physical and virtual, between off-line and on-line, and it lies between the devices in man's hands and the sites that host web pages. This is the web of imagination. It is an area which we call the Internet.