The Internet Compare and Constrast Essay

This essay has a total of 2014 words and 8 pages.

The Internet

The Internet is, literally, a network of networks. It is made of thousands of
interconnected networks spanning the globe. The computers that form the Internet range
from huge mainframes in research establishments to humble PCs in people's homes and
offices. Despite the recent publicity, the Internet is not a new thing. Its roots lie in a
collection of computers that were linked together in the 1970s to form the US Department
of Defense's communications systems. Fearing the consequences of nuclear attack, there was
no central computer holding vast amounts of data, but instead the information was
dispersed across thousands of machines. A protocol known as TCP/IP was developed to allow
different devices to work together. The original network has long since been upgraded and
expanded and TCP/IP is now an overall standard. The Internet has gone on now to fulfill a
great deal more than it's intended purpose and has definitely brought more good than bad.

Millions of people worldwide are using the Internet to share information, make new
associations and communicate. Individuals and businesses, from students and journalists,
to consultants, programmers and corporate giants are all harnessing the power of the
Internet. For many businesses the Internet is becoming integral to their operations.
Imagine the ability to send and receive data: messages, notes, letters, documents,
pictures, video, sound- just about any form of communication, as effortlessly as making a
phone call. It is easy to understand why the Internet is rapidly becoming the corporate
communications medium. Using the mouse on your computer, the familiar point-and-click
functionality gives you access to electronic mail for sending and receiving data, and file
transfer for copying files from one computer to another. This flood of information is a
beautiful thing and it can only open the minds of society. With the explosion of the World
Wide Web, anyone could publish his or her ideas to the world. Before, in order to be heard
one would have to go through publishers who were willing to invest in his ideas to get
something put into print. With the advent of the Internet, anyone who has something to say
can be heard by the world. By letting everyone speak their mind, this opens up all new
ways of thinking to anyone who is willing to listen.

A very important disadvantage is that the Internet is addictive. One of the first people
to take the phenomenon seriously was Kimberly S. Young, Ph.D., a professor of psychology
at the University of Pittsburgh. She takes it so seriously, in fact, that she founded the
Center for Online Addiction, an organization that provides consultation for educational
institutions, mental health clinics and corporations dealing with Internet misuse
problems. Psychologists now recognize Internet Addiction Syndrome (IAS) as a new illness
that could ruin hundreds of lives. Internet addicts are people who are reported staying
online for six, eight, ten or more hours a day, every day. They use the Internet as a way
of escaping problems or relieving distressed moods. Their usage can cause problems in
their family, work and social lives. They feel anxious and irritable when offline and
craved getting back online. Despite the consequences, they continue using regardless of
what their friends and family say. Special help groups have been set up to give out advice
and offer links with other addicts. Internets Anonymous and Webaholics are two of the
sites offering help, but only through logging onto the Internet. The effects of IAS lead
to headaches, lack of concentration and tiredness. Robert Kraut Doctoral Psychologist says
referring on the subject: "We have evidence that people who are online for long periods of
time show negative changes in how much they talk to people in their family and how many
friends and acquaintances they say they keep in contact with. They also report small but
increased amounts of loneliness, stress and depression. What we do not know is exactly
why. Being online takes up time, and it may be taking time away from sleep, social contact
or even eating. Our negative results are understandable if people's interactions on the
net are not as socially valuable as their other activities."

Another considerable drawback of the Internet is that it is susceptible to hackers.
Hackers are persons that have tremendous knowledge on the subject and use it to steal,
cheat, or misuse confidential or classified information for the sake of fun or profit. As
the world increases its dependence on computer systems, we become more vulnerable to
terrorists who use computer technology as a weapon. It is called cyber-terrorism and
research groups within the CIA and FBI say cyber-warfare has become one of the main
threats to global security. One notorious hacker is American Kevin Mitnick, a 31-year-old
computer junkie arrested by the FBI in February for allegedly stealing more than $1
million worth of data and 20,000 credit-card numbers through the Internet. Network hacking
is presenting fresh problems for companies, universities and law-enforcement officials in
every industrial country. But what can be done for hacking? There are ways for
corporations to safeguard against hackers and the demand for safety has led to a boom
industry in data security. Security measures range from user Ids and passwords to
thumbprint, voiceprint or retinal scan technologies. Another approach is public key
encryption. An information system girded with firewalls and gates where suspicion is the
standard and nothing can be trusted will probably reduce the risk of information warfare.
A committee of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has made several
recommendations to stop hacking. One would make it illegal to possess computer hacking
programs, those used to break into computer systems. Another would make the use of
computer networks and telephone lines used in the commission of a crime a crime in itself.
The committee also recommends agreements with the United States that would allow police
officials in both countries to search computer data banks. The problem with regulating the
Internet is that no one owns it and no one controls it. Messages are passed from computer
system to computer system in milliseconds. Government officials are hoping that Internet
service providers, such as AOL, can police the Net themselves.

But there is another problem that practically circulates through the Internet: The
viruses. They can move stealthily and strike without warning. They have no real life of
their own, and go virtually unnoticed until they find a suitable host. Computer viruses
are tiny bits of programming code capable of destroying vast amounts of stored data and
bear an uncannily close relationship to real viruses. Like real viruses they are
constantly changing, making them more and more difficult to detect. It is estimated that
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