Chapter 1: The rise of the Internet
The internet has changed the way we communicate, shop, bank, find things out and live every aspect of our lives.
Today we rely on more technology… and are more connected… than anyone could have imagined even 20 years ago.
Today the pace of change on the internet is increasing. More and more of our personal and professional information is stored online. Big data, cloud computing, social networking and 4G communications are shaping the way we access and use the world wide web.
Technology is a part of everyday lives. Smart devices such as TVs, heating systems and security systems can all be networked to give us more control over our lives.
This doesn’t just affect us as individuals. Some of the UK’s most important infrastructure depends on communications technologies.
All of these advances are designed to make our lives easier. But they also make us more vulnerable. In fact, the first reported incidence of a fridge being hacked to send out spam emails was reported in January 2014.
But, as we depend increasingly on technology and communications, the number of threats we face from hackers, cyber criminals and terrorists, every second of every day, also increases.
Find out how.
Chapter 2: The Internet today
Internet security is important… and not only because web-based systems are increasingly becoming a part of our lives. It’s also important to global security because of the internet’s continuing growth.
Click on More Information to find out about the threats that users on the Internet are facing every day… And why it’s even more important to increase and improve the cyber security of people in the UK.
In the future, the influence of the internet on every aspect of our lives will continue to grow. And, as more people across the globe become connected, there will be more opportunities for cyber criminals to take advantage of the systems we take for granted.
At GCHQ, for many years we've been looking at the way the internet's growing and the huge expansion in the ways cyber technologies are used. And we've developed tools that will help to protect the internet users of the future.....so they take advantage of the exciting systems available to them securely.
Chapter 3: The future Internet
The internet of the future will become increasingly essential to modern life. The number of people online is set to pass 5 billion by the year 2020… And the Internet will help shape how we communicate and interact… not only with each other, but also with the world around us.
As the internet continues to grow, this will have a number of consequences. For example, it will carry huge amounts of data… And most of that will be shared wirelessly and on mobile devices. Cisco reports that in 2013, mobile networks alone carried nearly 18 exabytes of traffic… That’s 18 times more data than was carried across the entire internet in the year 2000. All of this will bring a lot of benefits to people around the world. But it also means that the internet will be more vulnerable to attack.
So, in the future, everything from personal gadgets and systems in the home… to the systems that enable society to run smoothly… will increasingly be linked through online networks.
Some people call it the ‘Programmable World’. But it’s most commonly known as ‘the Internet of Things’.
Everyday objects and devices are already being electronically networked together. Advances in nanotechnology mean that, in the next five years, electronic chips constructed at a molecular level could potentially reach the mass market.
This new technology will have massive implications, both for our personal lives and for the way the world around us works.
This interconnected world will have a significant impact on the way we live our personal lives. The ability to manage systems in our homes over the internet… using remote devices… will give individuals more control.
There are many different technologies enabling this transformation to happen that rely on mobility and the ability to be constantly connected. The continuing development of sensors, location data, social networks, big data and machine learning means that these mobile devices will become increasingly useful – and powerful. And they’ll all have a major effect on how we live.
That’s why at GCHQ we focus on anticipating the security implications of new developments… and ensuring we’re ready for whatever threats might emerge.
As well as making a major difference to individual lives, internet technologies will play a significant role in the way the world around us works. The rise of cloud computing and the potential of big data mean that all sorts of public systems, from transport, healthcare and communications, to agriculture and education, will all be interconnected.
Online technology is advancing so quickly, it’s hard to predict the extent of the impact. The potential benefits of these systems will affect everyone. This means that everyone will also be a potential target for cyber crime. So it’s vital that as new systems and uses are developed in the future, the appropriate security systems are also put in place.
At GCHQ, we already advise the UK government on how to secure the information on the systems they’re using. In the future, as these systems move online and communicate with each other more, we’ll be at the forefront of the battle to ensure they remain safe and secure.
Another area where the expansion of online systems over the next ten years will have a major impact is the business world. Many large businesses are already exploiting the commercial potential of the internet. At the same time, many others are restricted in what they can do… due to the unavailability of appropriate connections or technologies.
But as the world becomes ever more connected… many more businesses of every size will find it easier to gain access to new markets… and a wider group of customers. Not only will online trading be a lot easier… but there will be a huge potential market for new technologies that take advantage of these greater connections.
This means businesses will be repositories for huge amounts of personal and commercial information. And it’s most likely that this data will be stored in the cloud… creating bigger security issues than ever before.
Every business around the world will be in even more danger of becoming a potential victim of industrial espionage and cyber crime. At GCHQ we’re acutely aware of these potential threats. And we’re already looking at how we can help businesses to protect their data… and combat the dangers that this new connected world will bring.
As new technologies develop and cyberspace continues to evolve, the future of the internet is purely a matter of speculation. But however it develops, one thing’s for certain… it’ll touch the lives of virtually everybody on the planet. And, as its influence grows… there will always be people around the world who want to exploit it for criminal gain.
At GCHQ we’re constantly looking ahead to try and forecast what the future of technology has in store. By assessing the potential security risks… and developing innovative solutions… we’re helping to combat any potential security breaches.
This makes it an exciting, challenging and constantly changing place to work. But it’s also incredibly rewarding… not just because we work with some of the most advanced technologies available… but also because we perform a vital role. And we help to ensure the security of the country, its people, businesses and interests.