Networking Reference
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many different constructs. For example, Wikipedia is an institution designed to
create correct, comprehensive and authoritative information on a large number of
topics. Wikipedia itself is a complex institution. It incorporates many computational
elements that continuously monitor content, highlight suspicious activity and correct
style related programs. There is a strong organizational component to Wikipedia as
well that dictates how editors are elected and what their editorial powers are.
These complex institutions reflect today's reality: systems and people are
networked: human and machine computation are intertwined in many different
ways. It is possible for systems to make use of people to solve problems and for
people to rely on machines to help reduce complexity of their every lives. Some
institutions also “compute trust”, meaning that they algorithmically assess how
much another entity should be trusted. We will describe the various contexts implied
by such computations in this chapter as we explore the issue of trust in this complex
networked world.
4.1
Trustable Systems and Entities
The increasing diffusion of the Internet into daily life has led to the development
of many different systems and entities, i.e., institutions, that are crucial to trust.
A trustable institution is one that enables people to perform tasks that require
trust. These tasks are evolving every day as more people become online and find
new applications. The institutions that people rely on are always in flux, but their
importance is undeniable [ 46 ]. People and businesses use computer systems to
carry out transactions, communicate and store vital information. Automated systems
monitor how our car runs, regulate the temperature in buildings, and manage energy
fluctuations in the electric grid. Automated agents carry out complex financial
transactions and give us advice on where to have lunch. We will treat these systems
as institutional support for online trust.
4.1.1
System and Data Security
One of the earliest uses of the term trust is in system security. System security
spans concepts from hardware and software to communications. A secure system
is trustable. It correctly identifies the people accessing the system and only allows
authorized people to use it. Data security ensures that people have access only to
the information that they are allowed to see. No unauthorized person can access or
change data. The access rights are not ambiguous or conflicting. Systems are capable
of verifying that data has arrived from a specific source and was not modified along
the way. Systems do not lose data. Systems ensure security even in the presence of
adversaries who are trying to undermine their correct operation. A secure system is
used by people for the purpose it is designed for: storing and sending information,
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