Obama calls for faster, safer internet

Miami, Fla. — President Barack Obama is urging Congress to pass laws that would better protect consumers and businesses against cyber attacks, combat identity theft and protect personal information.

During his State of the Nation address on Tuesday, Obama said, “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids.“

One of the laws would urge private companies to share potential cyber threats with the Department of Homeland Security.

Obama has also called for steeper penalties for people convicted of computer hacking.

“If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people around the globe,” said Obama.

Former Pinoy cyber hacker Darren Mendoza is now a programmer and data base administrator for a health care company in Miami, Fla. His job is to protect the company’s valuable medical data.

He said even small business owners and private individuals are not safe from cyber attacks.

Mendoza said, “Even your personal computer is actually vulnerable. All they need is your IP address and they can do some brute force and they can grab your information.”

Mendoza says the Filipino computer school dropouts he used to hack with at AMA Computer College unleashed the most destructive computer virus back in 2000, known as the Iloveyou virus.

The “love bug” was one of the first cyber attacks to spread widely via e-mail created by Pinoy hackers Michael Buen and released by Onel De Guzman.

The virus paralyzed millions of computers around the world including the British Parliament and the Pentagon, causing an estimated $10 billion in damage, according to the New York Times.

“It spread so fast because you thought it was an actual email. You didn’t know that you were infected. It took your internet password and friend list,” Mendoza said.

Mendoza says the Pinoy hackers’ goal was just to gain free internet access back when internet access was very limited in the Philippines.

Mendoza agrees with President Obama’s plans not just to keep the internet safe, but to also make it faster and available to more Americans.

While he believes Obama’s proposed cyber security laws are crucial in preventing future cyber attacks, Mendoza says the president should still make sure that the internet is kept open and free from restrictions and limitations for netizens.

In his SOTU speech Obama said, “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.”

You may contact Don Tagala at don_tagala@abs-cbn.com

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