The public health of the Internet


As manager of, a project of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, I spend a lot of time thinking about malware: viruses, trojans, drive-by downloads, and the like. I’ve recently been interested in the idea of applying lessons from the public health arena to the malware world. It turns out that this is not a new idea. Back in 1993, researchers from IBM published a paper called “Computers and Epidemiology.” In 2004, Kim Zelonis at Carnegie Mellon presented a master’s thesis on the topic. At UCSD, there is an entire research center called “The Collaborative Center for Internet Epidemiology and Defenses.” And StopBadware’s own principal investigator, Jonathan Zittrain, uses language like “understanding the health of the network” when describing the goal of our work.

OK, so I’m not a revolutionary. But it does seem like this is an area with a lot of unrealized potential. So, I’ve decided to start reading up about public health. I’ll start with really basic primers and try to focus especially on epidemiology, community health education, and biowarfare, as these seem like obvious areas with overlap into the malware realm. I’ll blog my progress here, so if you’re interested, feel free to learn along with me as I delve into what one might call “Internet public health.”

1 Comment

  1. Maxim Weinstein’s blog » Blog Archive » Epidemic!

    August 22, 2008 @ 2:27 am


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