Login Register

Bath man in secret circle keeping world wide web safe from hacker attack

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: March 18, 2014

By Jeff Wells

  • Paul Kane is one of seven people worlwide chosen to hold keys to safeguard computer systems in the event of a global disaster – such as a terrorist attack Picture: SWNS

Comments (0)

A British father-of-two told yesterday of his crucial role in the future of the internet – as one of only seven 'Domesday' key holders who can unlock the web.

Internet guru Paul Kane holds a masterkey to the world wide web which can be used if the system is infiltrated by a mega hacker attack or brought down by terrorists.

Paul and the other chosen few would fly to a top-secret location near Washington, USA, where they would use their credit card-style keys to relaunch the web's security system.

With the 25th anniversary of the world wide web – and more people around the world using the internet every day – Paul's James Bond-style cyber role has become more important than ever.

Paul, who lives in Bath with wife Fiona and their two young sons, said: "If called upon, we are told to get to America as quickly as possible.

"The threat would have to be a global one, with bad guys creating a pirate site to steal web data.

"We would then meet in secret and put all our keys together to generate a new one – relaunching the internet's security systems.

"We have seven people at the highest level that hold a fragment of the key.

"We need five of those to get together in a room to regenerate a key."

Paul oversees a "network of trust" created when websites, computers and internet users are all verified as genuine.

If one of these websites is hacked, the keys reveal that the genuine internet user is who they say they are, enabling it to be reversed back to its unhacked state.

Paul and the master keyholders oversee the creation of 14 'child keys' which are refreshed every six months in order to keep the data up to date.

In practice, when websites are hacked, these child keys can be used to reboot the websites, meaning master keyholders like Paul will probably never need to jump into action.

He said: "It isn't very sexy but because the whole system works so well, because it is very secure, very robust, the likelihood of the seven of us coming together is pretty unbelievable.

"What could happen is that today you would issue a new child key and somewhere something would go wrong.

"Well, then you could go back to yesterday's key."

Paul is CEO of CommunityDNS (Domain Name System) based at the University of Bath, which handles 22 per cent of all net-routing traffic.

Domain Name System ensures people wishing to access their bank account or shop online can reach the genuine website, rather than a look-a-like pirate site.

He was selected for the five-year role in 2010 after an international agreement to shore-up internet sites using high-tech cryptographic keys identified him on a 60-strong short list.

The other keyholders were experts selected from Trinidad and Tobago, Burkina Faso, the US, China, and the Czech Republic.

Paul had to pick up his key from the secret US bunker and it is kept at a super-secret location in England.

He said: "We had to be cleared by armed guards and retina scans etc.

"We had to spend six hours in a locked room where the keys were generated."

He reckons that the role of those maintaining a secure internet is becoming ever more important in this digital age.

He added: "Our lives depend on a secure, trusted exchange of information with our friends."

Read more from Western Daily Press

Do you have something to say? Leave your comment here...

max 4000 characters

YOUR COMMENTS AWAITING MODERATION

 
 

MORE NEWS HEADLINES