Plan B: The Trusted Alternative to the Internet

Danny Hillis, an inventor, scientist, author and engineer, featured in a TED Talk posted online last week. In his talk he proposed something of a radical idea; a Plan B for the Internet.

Hillis summaries the early days of the Internet and how it was, essentially, built on a system of trust. In the early 1980s there was a comparative handful of people online and, although they didn’t all know each other personally, there was perceived level of benevolence amongst the small group.

Today, the Internet has grown to a gigantic scale - one that it was never designed for, and one that is constantly changing. Hillis believes this is “setting ourselves up for disaster”, as the system built on an assumed of level of trust is no longer valid.

His idea for a ‘Plan B’ would mean creating a parallel system of infrastructure to sit alongside the Internet. In the case of a serious denial of service cyber-attack, the system would allow emergency services to communicate, hospitals to operate, keep planes from falling from the sky, and so on, without the Internet. 

It may sound a little high level and even farfetched, but the core message is the exact principle Trustonic is built on – the idea of having trust build directly into smart connected devices. While the majority of hardware and software communication processes operate in a traditional means, vital processes that underpin trust, such as authentication, integrity and confidentiality, should operate in a dedicated trusted execution environment (TEE). Plan B should not necessarily require a duplicate Internet. Plan B begins with putting trust back into the Internet one device at a time, starting with the smart connected devices we increasingly use to access it.