Written by: Cary Straw, Senior Web Patrol Security Analyst
As I go through my daily routine as a Caveon Web Patrol Analyst scouring the web for infringement of our clients’ secure intellectual property, I am often struck by the fact that for some clients there’s a never-ending stream of content to evaluate. No matter the number of hours we spend or the number of tools we design and use to help our efforts, the vastness of the universe we patrol grows every second; and if it is a challenge for us to keep up with our substantial resources, how must it be for other companies with little or no tools, staff or dedicated resources to address their own problems?
With every click of my mouse I am reminded that the Internet grows exponentially with each passing day, but I wondered, as I’m sure you have, how big is it actually becoming? To get an idea lets give it some context and see where it actually started, and no, it wasn’t in Al Gore’s basement.
In December of 1969 ARPAnet, created by the U.S. Government’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, was the first modern Internet network. At that time there were four sites and at most a few hundred users. How things have changed.
Today the number of indexed websites is over 50 Billion. By 2020 it will be more than 60 Billion and during 2010, the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on earth. (I knew I owned too many gadgets.)
By 2015 a Zettabyte of info will be available on the Internet. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 individual web pages that if placed end to end would stretch from the Earth to Pluto and back 16 times.
If you only look at one billionth of one percent of those web pages you potentially still have millions of sites that may contain your content in some form. That Zettabyte of pages evolved from just a few hundred only 46 years earlier, with most of it appearing in the last 10 years.
The content comes from every conceivable source and some of the statistics are intriguing. For instance, every 20 minutes there are 10 million comments posted on Facebook but this number doesn’t include the millions of comments made on the thousands of other social networks and forums. That’s a vast pool of potential points of contact and just when you think you might have a handle on it, something new rises up from the primordial goo to take its place. The most telling aspect of these new technologies is not just how large and how many there are but more importantly how much time elapses between the emergence of each one. At the beginning of the Internet it was sometimes years before a new Internet technology took hold. Now it can happen in days, hours and even minutes and will likely just get faster with every new advancement.
Additionally, the interconnectivity of sites is a new and potentially game-changing development. It’s getting to the point that the internet knows what you need before you even finish thinking about it and it’s learning to think in context and spread content based on this context without any human input.
It’s a fascinating time we live in and it can present fascinating problems. No matter where your company fits into this vast global network of information, now is the time to think about how to deal with the challenges this network brings to you. The ultimate challenge is to overcome the one area that causes the most problems to companies who have an online presence and that’s…DELAY. Delay costs time, delay costs money, delay causes materials to spread quickly across the digital landscape unchecked. Ultimately companies who take immediate and decisive action and who are continually vigilant as the Internet grows are ultimately the companies who will still be around as the dust swirls and the storm continues to grow. Because in today’s online universe, the dust never has the chance to settle.