Can you describe the changes you made to your networking protocols following ARPANET and why they were significant?
The purpose was to create a nonproprietary universal set of protocols. (Cerf and TCP/IP co-inventor Robert Kahn) said this would not be patented, it would not be constrained, it would not be controlled. We wanted to eliminate any excuse for not standardizing on our protocols globally. We didn't change anything about any of the existing networks. TCP/IP overlaid those networks. We relied on a device called a gateway to encapsulate our protocols in any protocols used by any new networks. The new networks had to have gateways (which are now called routers) that could encapsulate data so that it could be sent to other networks. The first commercial routers came out about 1986 and services came in 1987.
It's generally been said that the Internet wasn't designed to do the things we're asking of it now—that is, e-commerce involving sensitive financial information, the management of confidential documents such as electronic medical records, Voice over IP (VoIP) phone calls, etcetera—and that's one of the primary reasons that security has been such a challenge. What is your assessment of the security situation on the Internet?
It is true that when we started we didn't even know if this idea was going to work at all. In 1973 the only cryptographic technology we could get our hands on was classified. I was already working with the NSA [National Security Agency] to implement a secured version of the Internet that was classified, so I couldn't tell my friends about it. But security doesn't just come from cryptography, it also comes from making browsers that are less naive and don't download malware at the drop of a packet. The problem is that early on no one wanted to pay much attention to security. The business world just didn't care. They didn't see the threat, they didn't see the need, they didn't see any dependence on the Internet. It's only in the past decade or so that people have come to see this dependence.
I noticed that you have a Facebook page. What made you a fan of that social networking site, and which others do you use?
To be honest, I joined Facebook as an experiment. I accepted all invitations just to see how many people would ask to be "friends"—it quickly overwhelmed my time to process even the invitations and requests, let alone to actually go there and do anything. The various "applications" ("You've been bitten by an alligator.") and so on are just e-mail dressed up in awkward clothing. The user interface is rather clumsy in my opinion. I am annoyed by people that send messages via FaceBook because I get an e-mail telling me there is a message on FaceBook—so I end up processing two messages for every one sent.
I've seen modest utility in this system, but I have also heard that people do discover old friends this way. I think exploring the Internet's—and the Web's—ability to facilitate personal linkages is remarkable and expect to see additional social networking applications and services emerge. We have already discovered how quickly we become dependent on the Internet and it's applications for business, government and research, so it is not surprising that we are finding that we can apply this technology to enable or facilitate our social interactions, as well. Shared calendars are a tool for this as are Doodle polls—a very nice tool for finding out when multiple parties might be able to meet. So, while I am not an active Facebook subscriber and have not given in to Twitter, I appreciate that some of these tools have proven useful for a significant number of "Internauts".