Best wishes for 2018!

On Thursday 30 November 2017, we hosted the first edition of SIDN Connect at the KNVB Campus in Zeist. Contributions from the SIDN Labs team included a well-attended workshop on the future of the internet. In this blog, I summarise the workshop discussions and highlight the points that we've picked up to tackle in our research during 2018.

Sharing ideas and opinions

At the workshop, we explored a number of hypothetical scenarios for technical and non-technical aspects of the internet in 2022, with the aim of identifying developments expected in the next five years or so.

We had a lively debate with the 80 workshop participants, who provided plenty of valuable and thought-provoking input. In the end, there wasn't enough time to fully explore several of the scenarios, and in hindsight we could have made the 'warm-up quiz' shorter. A lesson for the future, certainly.

The topics covered were very varied. For example, we debated the power of big players such as Apple, Facebook and Google. As well as the benefits and dangers of having a house full of smart devices. We even got to grips with the fundamental question of whether the internet should really be redesigned from the ground up.

Differing views and refreshing insights

From the workshop, it's clear that a lot of thought is being devoted to the future of the internet, even if opinion is often divided. The subject is topical in many different fields, with people addressing it from a variety of perspectives, including the business, privacy and security perspectives. And it was refreshing to get outlooks that we hadn't previously considered ourselves. So we took a lot from the debate. On various themes, such as the rise of the internet of things, participants saw both opportunities and threats. Again, the exchange of ideas yielded some fascinating insights. All in all, it was a successful session from our viewpoint. And it certainly provided plenty of food for thought.

Plans for 2018

From the various themes discussed at the workshop, we've identified two that we'll certainly address in 2018.

In response to the discussion about the security, behaviour and possible certification of smart devices, we're going to extend our SPIN system by implementing the new IETF draft Manufacturer Usage Description Specification (MUD), with the aim of seeing how MUD works in practice. In essence, MUD proposes a framework for firewalls to download and activate pre-prepared security templates for particular devices, supplied by the manufacturer. We want to integrate the methodology described in the MUD draft into SPIN in order to test it out. We expect to encounter some unresolved issues (MUD is an Internet draft after all), which we'll obviously draw to the attention of the IETF (a body that we actively participate in).

In response to the debate on centralisation of the internet (its dependency on a few big players), we plan to extend our research into centralisation in the context of the Domain Name System (DNS). We want to gauge the extent to which the DNS is becoming dominated by a small number of actors and consider whether that makes it more vulnerable. We presented some preliminary thoughts on the topic at the last IETF meeting. DNS centralisation is also one of the issues my colleague Moritz Müller is looking at for his doctoral research project.

So we have plenty to look forward to in the year ahead. As ever, we'll be devoting ourselves wholeheartedly to research that contributes to the security, stability and evolution of the internet. On the two themes described above and in many other fields.

I'd like to close by thanking everyone who attended our workshop for their interest and their input. Regretting that you couldn't make it last November? Don't worry: just keep an eye on this site for regular updates about our research findings. And maybe we'll see you at SIDN Connect 2018.

All the best for 2018 from the whole team at SIDN Labs!


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