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Vinton Cerf: Outer Space Could be Next Frontier for Cybersecurity

By NextGov.com

June 16, 2009

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NASA and Google Internet evangelist Vinton Cerf are currently testing an extraterrestrial Internet that could lead to technology for use in securing ad hoc networks during military operations.

A decade ago, Cerf and NASA started developing an interplanetary Internet to regulate data transmission to and between devices in outer space. "This is moving ahead after a 10-year period of gestation," he says. "So, for me, this is like a science fiction dream that's finally coming true." Cerf, co-winner of the 2004 ACM Turing Award, recently said the technology being developed in that project could be applied to "terrestrial requirements."

He says information security, shrinking user space on the Internet, and the lack of a system for monetizing digital information are key vulnerabilities that must be addressed by both the government and private industry.

Cerf points to NASA's successful testing of interplanetary data transmissions in deep space and upcoming tests on the International Space Station. An interplanetary Internet needs to be more robust than the Internet infrastructure on Earth, and instead of relying on continuous end-to-end connections, each node on the network holds on to its information until it can safely communicate with another node, which prevents information from being lost when an immediate connection fails.

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