2016

So I know I have failed to blog in the last few months, but I thought I would take this opportunity to round up 2016 for me.

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ENCRYPTION

Special Thank You to Adriana who acted as editor on this post.

Encryption has been in the news a lot recently, and for a number of reasons. Mainly wrong ones. So what is encryption? Why is it important, and why shouldn’t we get rid of it?

Encryption is a method for keeping your digital data secure. In the digital world, it acts like a lock. Imagine your house you more than likely have a lock on the door. A lock stops strangers from wandering into your house whenever they want and taking a look at your cool stuff, or worse, stealing your cool stuff. We all have locks on our doors, unless you live somewhere really nice (and if so please let me know in the comments so I can move in.) Your lock actually also performs a secondary function, that you probably don’t think about. It allows you to identify the person entering the house as being known to the household. Say you’re sitting on the sofa watching your favourite TV program, when you hear the key turn in the front door and it open and close. You know by that fact, the person entering had the key, and they are authorised to enter your home. Just like a lock, these are the two basic functions that encryption on the internet provides for us security and identity checking.

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We are as a species living more and more of our lives in the digital world. We interact with the Internet hundreds if not thousands of times a day, not only through our web browsers, but through any apps that connect to real time data sources, allow us to access our data anywhere or allow us to communicate with each other. These apps now also come on a range of devices from our computers , tablets, and smartphones to the connected fridge and smart TV. Ok lets pause here and think how much personal data have you streamed across the internet in the last month, scary isn’t it.

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Special Thank You to Adriana who acted as editor on this post.

So in my first post, I wrote that I am passionate about the Internet. The internet, in my opinion, is the single greatest invention of the 20th Century. Part of what makes the internet so great is the reason why it come into existence in the first place: the internet and the World Wide Web were born out of the desire to freely share information between universities and other academic institutions. These humble beginnings, forged from the desire to share rather than make a profit, is what allowed the internet to take off and what made it what it is today.

Currently, all sites on the internet are treated the same. Reading my blog now, for example, is given the same priority by your local ISP (internet service provider) as your friends looking at your Facebook, or your family watching Netflix. Basically, all sites are given the same priority by the Internet infrastructure. We’ll call this net neutrality- and it is something that also allows the internet to be uncensored. Before I go on to explain why net neutrality is important, let me briefly describe why it’s under threat.

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