It seems impossible to imagine modern life without the internet, but it’s only fifty years old. Initially created to connect a small group of researchers and U.S. defense officials, the internet is now a vast social and commercial platform that connects four billion people.

But as the internet has grown, so have the issues of cybersecurity, data privacy, and online rights. Governments and private companies are always playing catch-up, and different governments have taken different approaches to regulating and enforcing the rules of cyberspace, sometimes creating international conflicts. Without an international consensus on rules—or the consequences for breaking those rules—we are at an increased risk of cyberattacks from malicious actors taking advantage of the volume of personal data we share online. Though the internet is virtual, its benefits—and dangers—are real.

In this module, you will

  • discover how people use the internet today, and how that usage differs based on who and where they are;
  • tour the physical building blocks that make the virtual world possible;
  • explore the evolution of the internet from a narrow research tool to a global, commercial platform, and discover how its growth makes regulation and enforcement challenging;
  • learn how countries’ approaches to governing cyberspace differ, and how these competing ideas could lead to a “splinternet”;
  • examine how the global network of data storage puts your personal data at risk, and find out how recent measures such as the General Data Protection Regulation help data privacy; and
  • learn about Stuxnet, the first cyberattack to result in physical damage, and its implications for the future of cyber threats and defenses.
Referenced Module