Is the Internet firewall headed for extinction? That was the intriguing subtext to a talk today by William Cheswick, a firewall pioneer. As a researcher at Bell Labs, he wrote an early technical paper on firewalls in 1990, “The Design of a Secure Internet Gateway,” and 1994 (with a second edition in 2003), he cowrote a classic text on the subject, “Firewalls and Internet Security.”
For the last couple of years, though, Mr. Cheswick said he has been experimenting with “Internet skinny-dipping,” which is his colorful phrase for Internet computing without firewalls. It’s worked pretty well so far, he said, and the solutions include excryption by users (which he terms “end-to-end encryption”) and the use of virtual machine software to put programs in what he calls a “secure sandbox.”
Mr. Cheswick, who returned to AT&T Labs in April after a six-year stint as chief scientist at Lumeta, a network security and risk assessment company, was speaking in New York to a gathering of the Jericho Forum.