Almost without our noticing, the web has become an integral part of our lives; it’s become the hub for shopping, banking, communicating, working and entertaining. Many of us carry devices that keep us connected all the time, and we think nothing of quickly grabbing our email, checking a forum or sending a message from wherever we might be. It’s in many ways more magical than the sci-fi future I was promised in the 1970s. But many of us are also in denial about two things. The first is that we think our presence on the internet is absorbed into the background noise of a billion other people going about their business, and that this makes us less of a target. And the second is that we know how prone our online habits make us, whether that’s because of rubbish passwords, or shared passwords, or an open access point, but we do nothing about it.
There’s a mathematical function somewhere with one line for a growing threat and another for decreasing security, and the only certainty is that at some point in the future, they will cross. This is why we’ve decided to revisit the world of online security, in an attempt to highlight some of the dangers of assuming the web is safe. Linux is the perfect platform for this kind of experimentation. The reason why the operating system is so secure, for example, is because any developer can look at the source code and work out what’s happening. The arcane and hidden data transfers that make up the World Wide Web should be no different. In this issue, we investigate some of the tools that can reveal this hidden world, as well as showing you how easy it can be for these tools to be turned against us. And just like with Linux, the solution to these weaknesses are increased transparency, awareness and education. It’s like debugging the internet!