Onion Routing Inventor Paul Syverson on the Future of Internet Privacy SolutionsNov 29, 2021
"When you look at the number of people working on Internet security and privacy, it's easy to see that we are more aware of our privacy than ever," said Paul Syverson. "It's getting difficult to keep track of all the work that's being done—and that's a good problem to have. But by the same token, it's hard to be aware of all of the potential privacy concerns relevant at any given moment. It's a moving target."
Paul is the inventor of Tor's onion routing and a mathematician at the US Naval Research Laboratory. He joined Orchid's Derek Silva on this week's episode of the Priv8 Podcast to speak about the future of Internet privacy problems and solutions.
Paul explained that in today's online landscape, "People should be aware that there are cookies and all kinds of other things that can be used to track them. Even if you're connecting to a website or other online destination that you want to identify and authenticate your credentials (such as your bank or your employer), there are still a lot of things that can intercept your connection.
"These are just a couple of things to be conscious of," Paul said, adding that people should make sure their software is all up to date: "There are various plugins and extensions that can help you both keep track of and manage the extent to which you allow cookies and other digital tracking mechanisms to log your behavior."
Paul noted that concerns about online privacy will continue to grow more complex as technology advances. "I'm interested in how machine learning can develop in a way that protects privacy," he said. After all, "the truth is that all information can be 'personally identifiable information' when you start intersecting many different databases together"—something that machine learning is capable of.
Indeed, "there are concerns, but there are a lot of people working hard to make sure that technology is protecting people as it continues to develop.
"I like to take the long view. Several years ago, author Charlie Stross was saying that in another 100 years or so, computer security is going to be as fundamental on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs as, say, water, because 'identity theft' won't mean what it means today—it's going to mean hacking into the brainstem, or something like that.
"And what's going to be the main privacy issue next year? I don't know."
You can listen to Derek's full conversation with Paul here. And don't forget to subscribe to Priv8 on your favorite streaming service.