Networking trends and news: 2018 year in review

Networking is a fairly old subject, but there are still plenty of interesting things happening. Highlights from 2018 include stories about security, 5G, net neutrality, the Linux Foundation, and more.

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Security and wireless bandwidth were the top computer networking subjects of 2018. Those topics were no great surprise. Here are some highlights from these networking topics and others, as documented in TechRepublic and our sister site ZDNet.

Security has been a network concern almost since the start of networking itself. This year saw an unprecedented 1.7 terabits-per-second distributed denial-of-service attack; however, the new TLS 1.3 data encryption standard could help ensure that data may be inaccessible but never useful to criminals.

The security field also got a wake-up call that even the best cost-free VPNs are still not trustworthy. As such, it could be a game-changer that World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee supported a new open-source project called Solid to help protect your data. The idea is to implement standards to let users, not content owners or service providers, own and control personal information. It's unlikely that private companies would voluntarily give up such control, but meanwhile here is our guide to protecting your data on the internet.

SEE: Wireless networking policy (Tech Pro Research)

All of the focus on the wireless front revolved around the emergence of fifth-generation cellular networking. Spending on 5G technology reached $528 million this year and is expected to hit a massive $26 billion in 2022, according to an International Data Corp. report. Samsung alone is pumping in $22 billion, and it's important to understand that 5G will impact your PC, not just your mobile devices. Here is our cheat sheet to understanding 5G mobile networks, and here's a look at the infrastructure ecosystem and why you should care. Of course, good old Wi-Fi is speeding up too.

This year we also covered traditional wired networking, net neutrality, and political influences.

Fiber-optic networking reached petabit levels—that's 1,024 terabits per second—although it's strictly in a research laboratory for now. Networking switch giant Cisco Systems said service provider software is making its way more than ever into enterprise applications. Cisco also expanded its role in cloud applications deployment by partnering with Kubernetes on Amazon Web Services. Representing the open-source world, the Linux Foundation is trying to consolidate its numerous networking projects under a single banner, although ZDNet's resident Linux expert Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols predicts it'll be an exercise in cat herding.

SEE: AWS re:Invent 2018: A guide for tech and business pros (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

We try to avoid politics, but good luck with that in 2018. The death of net neutrality may impact your IT department in at least eight important ways, even as states like California are fighting to keep it alive. The US Senate voted for it and got nowhere due to the more conservative House of Representatives. Good luck as well if your company intended to buy network infrastructure or phones from Chinese companies Huawei or ZTE, because politics and fear are as much a part of the equation now as technology and cost used to be.

What's ahead? The big company in San Jose said last month that we're on track for 4.8 zettabytes of worldwide IP traffic by 2022, which is enough to make your head spin like an R2 droid. It will be interesting to check with them in another year or two and see how things are going vs. their predictions.

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By Evan Koblentz

Evan became a technology reporter during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. He published a book, "Abacus to smartphone: The evolution of mobile and portable computers" in 2015 and is executive director of Vintage Computer Federation, a 501(c)3 non-p...