Could Google’s sidewiki change the Internet threat landscape?

Google recently introduced an interesting technology called sidewiki. The tool allows you and everyone else on the internet to craft and maintain annotations about web pages each sidewiki entry is associated with through the use of simple-to-use browser plugin or related tools. How could this possibly relate to security? Pages could be marked by people or programs that detect when they include phishing, cross-site-scripting, or other malicious vulnerabilities. With some careful forethought, these markings could use a documented system which  would facilitate people and browser plugins to act on those notations, and thereby help to prevent users from becoming victims.

What I describe above is from an end-user perspective.  Malware researchers devote a considerable amount of effort to review and build knowledge about the threat landscape. There are some efforts to coordinate these activities by allied groups. My opinion is that these alliances would benefit from using sidewiki with documented markup, possibly coupled with Resource Description Framework (RDF) to provide rich associativity. Over time this could be expanded to go well beyond pure human-targeted content with the intent of being maintained  and utilized by automated tools of various kinds. The end result would be a very rich knowledge-base of the internet threat landscape, which is grown by grass-roots participants. Yes, there would be a need for vetting the markup, though  that is a minor problem that can be addressed by a variety of processes.

The problem with trying to realize the vision that I describe above is to build a critical mass of allied participants. For the vision to be realized the allies would need to agree that sharing knowledge can result in profitable corporations, while also providing the best potential for combatting the adversaries. I for one believe that the adversaries will continue to act-at-will unless the allies work very consciously and closely together. What I describe above is one such way this could start to be realized.

- Marc

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