Mary Jander, writing for Internet Evolution blog, provides a good start, outlining five major threats -
- Snarled software - a lot of the code behind the programs supporting the Internet are open, collaborative, and heavily revised and rewritten over time. Much is a mass of undocumented revisions and additions, developed by people more concerned with openness, redundancy, and survivability than security. While many feel that this is a strength, others worry that the amalgam of contributions might slow down operations, and might hide exploitable weaknesses.
- Outdated addressing - As with other addressable systems experiencing explosive growth, an system for creating and assigning unique addresses originally thought to be more than sufficient, the Internet is running out of valid IP addresses. This problem was anticipated years ago, and ICANN (the more or less official body overseeing the Internet) has developed solutions by expanding from IP4 to IP6 address system (basically adding digits to the address string). This should work for a while, but it's possible that at some not-so-distant point in the future, more digits will need to be added. In the meantime, there is the issue of how do you switch (or how do you update the millions of bits of programs and codes that deal with those addresses.
If that wasn't bad enough, ICANN has also opened up the choices for the related alphabetical domain names - including authorizing the use of non-ASCII character sets and languages. How will legacy keyboards and programs cope with the expanded naming and address options?
- Weakness at the Core - Individuals access the Internet almost exclusively through ISPs. And while they've so far been pretty well-behaved, there's been increasing use of data caps and intentional slowdowns as ISPs have attempted to deal with increased demand and data flows. ISPs are also under increasing pressures from states to monitor data flows, to restrict access and transmission of certain types of data, and to reveal their customers' private information to authorities.
- Hackers and Criminals - From individuals to loose collectives like Anonymous, to state-sponsored information warfare, the threat is real and continuing. To date, the redundancy and survivability designed into the Internet, and fear of the real consequences of widespread collapse, has generally limited long-term damage. But researchers know that the Internet is vulnerable, even as they work to make it less so.
- The Threat from Space - A spate of recent major solar flares has reminded people of the possible consequences that a major electromagnetic pulse can do to any electronic device or telecommunication network. One EMP from a massive solar flare created worldwide disruptions in the telegraph system in 1859; with the most basic and limited electronic network. Some experts fear a similar event today would cause trillions of dollars of damage to sensitive electronics. While you can harden electronics to be less susceptible to EMP damage, the cost of that approach (and particularly the need to apply it to millions of pieces of electronics) means that we'll just have to take our chances on this one.
"none of the structural revisions to the Internet can fix its fundamental lack of effective governance. Absent collaboration and support for global consistency, the World Wide Web could devolve into a dreadful 'Outernet,' where privacy is nonexistent and service providers hold users in thrall."Vigilance from the Internet community, particularly with regard to policies and approaches that could further damage core Internet structures, wouldn't hurt either.
Source - Ticking Time Bombs: The Internet's Weakest Links, Internet Evolution