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 Tuesday, 07 June 2005

"Preparations for the second World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis (16-18 November 2005) have entered a crucial phase. This summit should reach an international consensus on two key unresolved issues from the first phase: Internet governance and financial mechanisms for bridging the digital divide between developed and developing countries. The European Commission has now adopted a communication outlining the EU's priorities for the Tunis meeting. To promote an Information Society for all, respectful of human rights and of freedom of expression and cultural and linguistic diversity, the EU wishes to preserve and strengthen the sound foundations laid during the first summit in Geneva."

For more details click here.

Tuesday, 07 June 2005 14:17:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 06 June 2005

Communications Minister Helen Coonan has called on Australia's neighbours to join forces to combat threats from spam email and online fraudsters.

"Closer cooperation between such bodies as APEC, the OECD and the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) will also help to develop a strategy to address the threats that spam poses to the integrity and security of the APEC region's communications infrastructure," Senator Coonan said.

Click here to view the full article.

Monday, 06 June 2005 08:35:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 03 June 2005

On 31 May 2005 the European Telecommunication Network Operators’ Association (ETNO) ran its 3rd annual conference on "New Generation Networks: The Next Telecoms Revolution". The discussion focused mostly on three issues 1) convergence, 2) regulatory and policy challenges, and 3) business opportunities. 

For more information as well as links to the presentations click here.

Friday, 03 June 2005 17:33:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From Om Malik:

TeleGeography says that there will be 4.1 million VoIP subscribers by end of 2005 and these subscribers will spend around $1 billion on their VoIP home services. U.S. residential subscriber totals have jumped from 150,000 at the end of 2003 to well over 2 million as of March 2005. Vonage says it has about 700,000 of those 2 million subscribers, but cable operators are catching up. By the end of 2005, TeleGeography predicts that Cablevision, Comcast, and Time Warner together will have 2 million subscribers and nearly one-half of the total residential VoIP market. In other words, the heat is on, and it will be interesting to see how long Vonage can hang around in the top tier. I hope they do - because they are keeping a lot of people honest.

Still you can see the “mainstreaming” of VoIP show up in the equipment sales, which are up 40% in 1Q 2005 from 1Q 2004 to about $493 million. These are world wide numbers. “The market continues to move further mainstream, and last month’s announcement from BT is further indicative of the maturation of the market,” said Infonetics Research’s Kevin Mitchell, directing analyst.

From Infonetics Research: 1Q05 Market Highlights

  • Worldwide softswitch revenue is up 4% from 4Q04 and 63% from 1Q04
  • Nortel is the worldwide revenue market share leader in the softswitch market
  • Siemens is number two for worldwide softswitch revenue
  • Italtel is third worldwide but first in EMEA after nearly doubling softswitch revenue share in EMEA in 1Q05
  • Trunk media gateways topped $200 million and high-density media gateways represent 78% of all trunk media gateway revenue
  • The geographic breakdown for total service provider next gen voice equipment: 45% North America, 27% EMEA, 21% Asia Pacific, and 7% CALA
Americas | NGN | VoIP
Friday, 03 June 2005 12:46:59 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Richard Stastny in VoIP and ENUM points to three interesting presentations given at VON Europe 2005 on ENUM:

He provides more detailed comments on each of these presentations in VON Europe 2005 - ENUM Update - Part 1, VON Europe 2005 - ENUM Update - Part 2 - Tom Kershaw and VON Europe 2005 - ENUM Update - Part 3 - XConnect or Catch 22.

Friday, 03 June 2005 12:35:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has recommended the introduction of a uniform intellectual property (IP) protection mechanism designed to further curb unauthorized registration of domain names in all new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). This came in a report by WIPO’s Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO Center) on the IP implications of introducing additional generic Top-Level Domains (new gTLDs). The report, "New Generic Top-Level Domains: Intellectual Property Considerations", which is available at, said that such a preventive mechanism would complement the curative relief provided by the existing Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).

Friday, 03 June 2005 11:57:02 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Matthew Fordahl writes in an AP newswire article on Yahoo! News:

Network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc. and Internet portal Yahoo Inc. are combining their efforts to combat e-mail spam and forgery in a step that's expected to help expand adoption of the technology.

The move, announced Wednesday, combines two techniques that rely on cryptography to help determine whether the sender of an e-mail message is legitimate. Sending messages using a false address is a common tactic of spammers.

[via Fergie's Tech Blog]

Friday, 03 June 2005 11:44:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The BBC has an article on the adoption of open source software in Brazil.

Mr Cerqueira Cesar is a leading light behind the newly-created Global Organisation for Free Software, which has been set up by a broad coalition of Brazilian businesses and NGOs. More details are being released this week at an International Forum on Free Software, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

The government here has its eye on a UN summit on information technology, to take place in Tunisia in November.

Already, Brazilian diplomats are pushing for a final declaration that would stress the advantages of open-source software.

They have won the backing of India and are now canvassing broader support from the developing world.

Friday, 03 June 2005 11:35:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the ITU-T Newslog: A meeting of Study Group 15, the ITU-T group responsible for studies into optical and other transport network technologies, has consented a new Recommendation that defines the way for equipment providers to produce systems for Ethernet virtual private line (EVPL) services. EVPLs offer a way for operators to provide point-to-point connections for carrying data over shared-bandwidth facilities.

The announcement is in line with the current industry trend to offer Ethernet services, and further signals Ethernet's growth in popularity as an enterprise telecom service.

Long-recognized as a ubiquitous LAN technology, Ethernet is now seeing increased attention as a carrier-grade service. In part this is due to the convenience of being able to simply provide end-to-end service, but also carriers can realize savings both in terms of capital and operational expenditure.

In terms of capital expenditure, Ethernet is easy and cost-effective to provision in the network. In terms of operational expenditure, carriers can deploy a single physical connection to the end user, but adapt its data-carrying capacity as end-user requirements dictate over time. This flexibility means a significant saving for the operator and the customer.

This work follows earlier work in the area of ITU Ethernet standards approved last year. See this ITU press release from June 2004.

The new Recommendation - G.8011.2 - defines the service attributes and parameters for carrying Ethernet characteristic information over shared-bandwidth, point-to-point connections, provided by SDH, ATM, MPLS, PDH, OTH, or ETY server layer networks.

Friday, 03 June 2005 11:18:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 02 June 2005

In an article from Reuters: A bill for mandatory logging of emails, phone calls and other electronic communications to combat terrorism and fraud will limit data storage to a year at most, the European Commission said on Wednesday.

Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media, said a similar proposal put forward by four member states in 2004 wanted data to be stored for three to four years, which she said would impose a costly burden on phone and internet companies.

[Via Fergie's Tech Blog and Reuters]

Thursday, 02 June 2005 13:39:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In the framework of its Technology Watch activities, ITU-T has recently published a technical paper on radio frequency identification (RFID) and opportunities for its use in mobile telecommunication services. RFID enables data to be transmitted by a tiny portable device, called a tag, which is read by an RFID reader and processed according to the needs of a particular application. It is only recently that the technology has begun to take off in the mass market. Analysts predict that RFID will revolutionize areas of industry, such as supply chain management and the retail business, for example by reducing costs with better stock management. The technical paper presents several ideas for applications of RFID technology in mobile telecommunication services as well as possible areas for standardization efforts. Apart from purely technical concepts, the challenging aspects of security and privacy are discussed. A PowerPoint presentation of the paper is also available.

ITU-T recently set up a correspondence group on RFID in the framework of its Technology Watch and a dedicated e-mail reflector on the matter for initiating studies on the technology. Additionally, ITU-T is to hold a workshop on RFID standardization issues in the first quarter of 2006. [via ITU-T Newslog]

Thursday, 02 June 2005 12:15:07 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 01 June 2005

The Directorate-General Information Society and Media of the European Commission has released a working document on Broadband access in the EU: situation at 1 January 2005.

"Take-up of high-speed "broadband" internet connections is growing fast, according to figures released on 1 June by Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. There are now 40 million broadband lines in the EU, an increase of 70% on last year. This represents 45 000 new broadband lines on average per day, up from 29 000 per day in 2003. The surge in broadband take-up, driven by competition among market players to provide consumers with faster, lower-priced internet access, bodes well for the "i2010" strategy, tabled on 1 June, to boost jobs and growth in the digital economy. New entrants are stepping up investment in broadband infrastructure to build market share. Some European countries are among the top performers in the world while others are lagging behind."

NB: The EU provides statistical rankings in their survey only EU25 member states. The ITU's statistics in broadband include non-EU25 economies.

Wednesday, 01 June 2005 18:08:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 31 May 2005

OECD has released a report on Anti-spam Law Enforcement

"Successful enforcement of anti-spam law serves as an economic disincentive to spammers by imposing fines and penalties which undermine their profits, provides a state-sponsored mechanism for protection and redress to victims of spam-related consumer fraud, and vindicates the privacy rights of spam recipients. Ultimately, an increased enforcement presence may help restore trust in e-mail systems that has been eroded by spam."

For the full report (PDF), click here.

Tuesday, 31 May 2005 16:03:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 27 May 2005

OECD has released a report on Next Generation Network (NGN) development in member countries.

"Over the last several years, a number of the major network operators have put in place network upgrade plans to implement next generation networks (NGN). Some market analysts now predict that the entire Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) will evolve into an NGN over the next 10 years or so. Technological change is happening very quickly, underscoring the need for policy and regulation to be based on principles that support consumer interests, such as competition policy, not on specific technical aspects of networks."

For the full report (PDF), click here.  

Friday, 27 May 2005 14:53:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The OECD has just published an excellent paper by Suresh RAMASUBRAMANIAN on Spam Issues in Developing Countries (PDF), which is linked to from the OECD antispam toolkit.

Friday, 27 May 2005 14:35:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the ITU-T Newslog: ITU-T has completed the specifications necessary for telecoms operators around the world to offer a ‘super’ triple play of video, Internet and voice services.

The ITU-T Recommendation for very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line 2 (VDSL2) will allow operators worldwide to compete with cable and satellite operators by offering services such as high definition TV (HDTV), video-on-demand, videoconferencing, high speed Internet access and advanced voice services including VoIP, over a standard copper telephone cable.

VDSL2 will offer consumers up to 100 Mbps up and downstream, a massive ten-fold increase over the more common ADSL. Essentially it allows so-called ‘fibre-extension’ bringing fibre like bandwidth to premises not directly connected to the fibre-optic segment of a telecoms company’s network.

As well as addressing increasing consumer demands, VDSL2 offers telecom carriers a solution that promises to be interoperable with the ADSL kit that many operators already have in place. This interoperability will make the migration of customers to VDSL2 much simpler. Another important feature of VDSL2 is that it will work in both legacy ATM networks and next generation IP based networks.

VDSL2 is seen by many operators as an ideal accompaniment to a fibre to the premises (FTTP) rollout, where for instance fibre is supplied direct to an apartment block and from there copper cable is used to supply residents with high-speed VDSL2.

Yoichi Maeda, chairman of the Study Group responsible for the work said: “We have leveraged the strengths of ADSL, ADSL2+, and VDSL to achieve the very high performance levels that you will see with VDSL2. It looks set to become an extremely important feature of the telecommunications landscape and is a landmark achievement for our members, many of whom were relying on this Recommendation in order to take their businesses to the next level.”

The publication of standardized specifications in an ITU-T Recommendation (G.993.2) means that operators can avoid being locked into a single vendor. As well as the economic advantages that this may bring it also means that operators can select the best solutions according to their needs.

Friday, 27 May 2005 14:09:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Friday, 27 May 2005 14:03:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

At an ITU/EU (ENISA) Regional Seminar on Cybersecurity for CEE, CIS and Baltic States in Riga, Latvia, Robert Shaw of the ITU Strategy and Policy Unit has given a presentation (PDF) on the upcoming ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity which will be held June 28-July 1 2005 at ITU headquarters.

Other presentations on available on the event web site, including an update by Pernilla SKANTZ on the establishment of the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA).

Friday, 27 May 2005 13:32:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From SecurityPipeline: The CIA is conducting a war game this week to simulate an unprecedented, Sept. 11-like electronic assault against the United States.

The three-day exercise, known as "Silent Horizon," is meant to test the ability of government and industry to respond to escalating Internet disruptions over many months, according to participants. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the CIA asked them not to disclose details of the sensitive exercise taking place in Charlottesville, Virginia, about two hours southwest of Washington.

The simulated attacks were carried out five years in the future by a fictional new alliance of anti-American organizations that included anti-globalization hackers. The most serious damage was expected to be inflicted in the closing hours of the war game Thursday.

The national security simulation was significant because its premise--a devastating cyberattack that affects government and parts of the economy on the scale of the 2001 suicide hijackings--contradicts assurances by U.S. counterterrorism experts that such effects from a cyberattack are highly unlikely.

Friday, 27 May 2005 12:20:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Here is an unusual production of local Internet content: photographs from the web site of the small Japanese village of Inakadate showing off their beautiful rice-paddy art:

Friday, 27 May 2005 10:36:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Via iwar: GAO: Critical Infrastructure Protection: Department of Homeland Security Faces Challenges in Fulfilling Cybersecurity Responsibilities, May 26, 2005

While DHS has initiated multiple efforts to fulfill its responsibilities, it has not fully addressed any of the 13 responsibilities, and much work remains ahead. For example, the department established the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team as a public/private partnership to make cybersecurity a coordinated national effort, and it established forums to build greater trust and information sharing among federal officials with information security responsibilities and law enforcement entities. However, DHS has not yet developed national cyber threat and vulnerability assessments or government/industry contingency recovery plans for cybersecurity, including a plan for recovering key Internet functions. DHS faces a number of challenges that have impeded its ability to fulfill its cyber CIP responsibilities. These key challenges include achieving organizational stability, gaining organizational authority, overcoming hiring and contracting issues, increasing awareness about cybersecurity roles and capabilities, establishing effective partnerships with stakeholders, achieving two-way information sharing with these stakeholders, and demonstrating the value DHS can provide. In its strategic plan for cybersecurity, DHS identifies steps that can begin to address the challenges. However, until it confronts and resolves these underlying challenges and implements its plans, DHS will have difficulty achieving significant results in strengthening the cybersecurity of our critical infrastructures.

Complete Report...

Friday, 27 May 2005 08:50:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 26 May 2005

From a study:

The Software Comparison research project provides the needed background information and advice to people who want to make sound software choices for public computer labs in Africa. The final report represents the first comprehensive analysis of software choices in the African public-access context. The study looked at 121 computer labs in Namibia, South Africa and Uganda, examining the range of factors that affect software choices; the realities of the current situation in Africa; and the long-term implications of software choices for Africa. This research was led by and supported by Collaborating Partners SchoolNet Africa, the International Development Research Council (IDRC) and the Open Society Institute (OSI). In addition, a number of field-study partners provided access to computer labs for the study. A high-level Advisory Group, comprised of experts in the field from both sides of the debate, was actively involved in the study on a regular basis: reviewing project documents (methodology, report drafts etc.), providing feedback and additional resources.

Final report: The final research report was released in May 2005. The accompanying news announcement provides a brief summary and background to the study. The full report and separate Annex can be downloaded as pdf files.

Thursday, 26 May 2005 16:42:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Communications has a post on the recent IMTC Forum 2005: The Future of Next Generation Networks: Convergence of VoIP, Videoconferencing and Mobile, May 10-12, 2005.

The IMTC is an industry association best known for championing video telephony.  Many of the attendees have devoted 10, 15, even 20 years of effort to making video telephony work. 

All of the presentations made at the Forum are linked to in this document (Word) on the IMTC web site. Some presentations worth highlighting include:

Thursday, 26 May 2005 14:47:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The OECD has released its Broadband Statistics for OECD economies as of December 2004. The site includes some good graphics.

NB: The OECD provides statistical rankings in this survey only for OECD member economies. The ITU's statistics in broadband include non-OECD economies.

Thursday, 26 May 2005 10:00:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies of the EC Joint Research Center (JRC) has released a report on the "Demand for Furture Mobile Communication Markets and Services in Europe". 

"In order to prepare for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Word Radio Conference in 2007 (WRC'07), where national delegations will consider the future demands of wireless services for radio spectrum, efforts are being made to reach agreement on future traffic volumes within the European Union. This study forms part of this effort and was led by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies (IPTS1), on the request of DG INFSO. It aims to explore (qualitatively) the way that citizens will use future wireless communications services over mobile networks, and to assess (quantitatively) the traffic that will be generated by 2010, 2015 and 2020."

The report explores different possible scenarios for Europe for the future. "Disposable income determines consumption – what is bought and how it is bought. The failure to understand this or to grasp the real utility to the user of the service, combined with affordability and accessibility, has led to many errors in estimating demand for services in telecommunications. Too often, a technocentric view of new services has resulted in demand being vastly underestimated or overestimated. Thus while some of the biggest product launches in communications services over the past 20 years have delivered flops, seemingly trivial services have exploded. For instance, the impact of a simple service, SMS, has been greatly underestimated and was largely unforeseen by the industry."

"The initial European impacts over 2000 to 2004 of WAP (Wireless access protocol) for mobile web access to rich data services were greatly overestimated for its first form - only now is its utility being seen. We should also note that in wireless services, a regional market such as the European Union will be increasingly shaped by a global market. In 2020, there could be of the order of 5 billion mobile users, shaping technology, services, content and pricing."

For the full report, see here.

Thursday, 26 May 2005 09:12:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 25 May 2005

Skype CEO and co-founder Niklas Zenström's keynote presentation from VON Europe 2005 is now available for download. [via Pulverblog]

His two solutions for emergency services calling are interesting, particularly the second:

  • Provide open interface to emergency centrals which can receive text, voice and video over IP
  • Build up national IP geo mapping databases managed by national authorities

Update: The Register has their take on the speech.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 17:13:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A very comprehensive survey site on Computer Forensics from Dave Dittich.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 16:08:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"Anti-spam enforcement authorities in 13 European countries recently agreed to share information and pursue complaints across borders in a joint drive to combat electronic junk mail. The nations will cooperate in investigating complaints about crossborder spam from anywhere within the European Union to make it easier to identify and prosecute spammers anywhere in Europe.The voluntary agreement establishes a common procedure for handling cross-border spam complaints". The participating European countries, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Spain, will through these initiatives try their best to address complaints from each other.

Spain's data protection authority, Agencia Española de Proteccion de Datos, and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission also recently signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding to promote enhanced cooperation and information sharing on spam enforcement activities. In July 2004, the FTC signed a similar agreement with the United Kingdom and Australia.

"Germany is taking spam control into its own hands. People who send junk e-mail in Germany will face fines of as much as 50,000 euros according to a draft law agreed upon by Germany's ruling coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. The law will also prevent spammers from disguising their name and the nature of the e-mail. German lawmakers hope that the steep fine will make people think twice about sending spam. It has been illegal to send spam in Germany since July 2004, but the ruling coalition hopes the new legislation will help stop the practice."

Click here to view the full article.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 14:33:24 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The 2005 ASEM Cyber Security Workshop, Seoul will be held in Republic of Korea, hosted by the Ministry of Information and Communication of Korea. The ITU WSIS Thematic Meeting on Cybersecurity will follow shortly afterwards, June 29-July 1 2005 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 11:42:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

2005 marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the report of the Independent Commission ("Maitland Commission") on Worldwide Telecommunication Development, entitled "The Missing Link". To mark the anniversary, ITU has published the original report on its website, in English, French and Spanish.

The "missing link" of the title's report refers to the gap in telecommunications development, within and between nations. Although the term "digital divide" is now more common, the original arguments presented in the report are still quite valid. In particular, the report calls for "decisions at the highest political level" to bring "all of mankind within easy reach of a telephone by early part of the next century". Research by ITU (see the 2003 World Telecommunication Development Report) indicates that, by the start of this century, just over 80 per cent of the world's population were within reach of phones (increasingly mobile phones rather than fixed line telephones). Although this falls short of the original target, the "decisions at the highest political level" that the report calls for is now closer to fruition with the holding of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which is the first time this issue has been discussed at the Heads of State and Heads of Government level. The WSIS Declaration of Principles, adopted by the first phase of the WSIS in December 2003 contains the following commitment (para 10):

"We are also fully aware that the benefits of the information technology revolution are today unevenly distributed between the developed and the developing countries and within societies. We are fully committed to turning this digital divide into a digital opportunity for all, particularly for those who risk being left behind and being further marginalized". 

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 11:21:59 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

H.E. Ambassador Janis Karklins (Latvia) has invited WSIS stakeholders to take part in an informal consultation on implementation and follow-up of the Plan of Action for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to take place in Room 26 of the United Nations in Geneva, on 13 June, from 10-13 and 15-18 (see invitation letter). The consultations will take place just ahead of the meeting of the UN Working Group on Internet Governance.

These consultations will concern, in particular, paras 10-11 of the draft Operational document for the Tunis phase of the Summit, and the compilation of comments on that draft. The deadline for further comments is 31 May 2005.

The consultations follow-on from those hosted by ITU's Working Group on WSIS (WG-WSIS) that were held on 2 May

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 10:51:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

According to Warren's Washington Internet Daily on 24 May 2005:

Stuck in an "embryonic" stage of sharing cybersecurity information, many European countries look to govt. for encouragement, the head of the European Network & Information Security Agency (ENISA) said in an interview. Despite claims of willingness to work together, a lack of actual cooperation is the chief roadblock to better infrastructure protection, said ENISA Exec. Dir. Andrea Pirotti, adding that many stakeholders want national or European Union authorities to nudge them. ENISA will be the "director of the orchestra" beginning later this year, Pirotti said.

The new agency has created working groups on security awareness-raising, risk analysis and assessment, and computer emergency response teams (CERTs), Pirotti said. The CERT panel will devise an effective way to stimulate cooperation among European nations and to establish as many CERTs as possible, he said. In smaller communities, ENISA may also push for warning, advice and reporting points (WARPs), sometimes called "mini-CERTs." Often set up and run by volunteers, WARPs field network threat information from and report problems to the larger CERTs, Pirotti said. But unlike CERTs they don't provide technical fixes.

ENISA working groups will set best practices with detailed procedures for establishing CERTs and WARPs, Pirotti said. ENISA officials then will take the ideas to national officials and push for their creation. "We shall do our best, but this is just the beginning," he said. Local authorities are keen on the idea but want ENISA to give them a framework and suggestions. Most know the risks of not having CERTS, he said, and are willing to invest in them.

ENISA is beginning to develop a presence, joining the ITU at a June forum on network security in central and east Europe, the former Soviet bloc and the Baltic states (WID May 23 p6). The group also plans a late Sept. information security conference in Budapest.

A permanent ENISA stakeholder group has 30 members from industry, academia and the consumer community, Pirotti said. The group, which first met in March, convenes June 2 to discuss mobile phone security, among other issues.

ENISA's workforce is far from complete -- of 40 workers authorized, 4 have been hired -- but a massive recruiting effort for agency administrative and technical personnel now underway will end in late July, Pirotti said. ENISA will occupy its permanent hq in Heraklion, Greece, in Sept. and start work in earnest in Oct. or Nov. -- Dugie Standeford

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 09:33:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From the FTC's Operation Spam Zombies page:

Spammers use home computers to send bulk emails by the millions. They take advantage of security weaknesses to install hidden software that turns consumer computers into mail or proxy servers. They route bulk email through these "spam zombies," obscuring its true origin.

As part of a worldwide effort to prevent these abuses, the FTC announces "Operation Spam Zombies." In partnership with 20 members of the London Action Plan and 16 additional government agencies from around the world, the Commission is sending letters to more than 3000 Internet service providers (ISPs) internationally, encouraging them to take the following zombie-prevention measures:

  • block port 25 except for the outbound SMTP requirements of authenticated users of mail servers designed for client traffic. Explore implementing Authenticated SMTP on port 587 for clients who must operate outgoing mail servers.
  • apply rate-limiting controls for email relays.
  • identify computers that are sending atypical amounts of email, and take steps to determine if the computer is acting as a spam zombie. When necessary, quarantine the affected computer until the source of the problem is removed.
  • give your customers plain-language advice on how to prevent their computers from being infected by worms, trojans, or other malware that turn PCs into spam zombies, and provide the appropriate tools and assistance.
  • provide, or point your customers to, easy-to-use tools to remove zombie code if their computers have been infected, and provide the appropriate assistance.

In a later phase, the Operation plans to notify Internet providers worldwide that apparent spam zombies were identified on their systems, and urge them to implement measures to prevent that problem.

Business Guidance

Letter text translations (provided by participating agencies):

Wednesday, 25 May 2005 08:32:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 24 May 2005

At the WSIS Thematic Meeting "Towards the realisation of the ubiquitous network society", held 16-17 May in Tokyo, co-organised by MIC Japan, ITU and United Nations University (UNU), a new project to develop and mass-manufacture a US$100 laptop, primarily for use in schools, was launched by MIT Media Lab together with an Open Computer Initiative from UNU. The partnership aims to have working prototypes available for demonstration by the Tunis Phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), November 16-18 2005. The initial specifications for the laptops are 500 MHz processor, 1 GB hard drive and wi-fi enabled, running LINUX. Over time, it is planned that the laptops would become more powerful, but not more expensive.

For more information, see:

Tuesday, 24 May 2005 08:22:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 23 May 2005

CNN/Money is reporting that US Bank of America Corp. and Wachovia Corp. are among the big banks notifying more than 670,000 customers that account information was stolen in what may the biggest security breach to hit the banking industry.

Account information on the customers was illegally sold by bank employees to a man identified as Orazio Lembo, whom police said was doing business by illegally posing as a collection agency.

[via Slashdot]

Monday, 23 May 2005 21:13:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Gregg Keizer writes on TechWeb: Spammers and phishers are using new kinds of attacks to build wide-ranging profiles of online users -- everything from their political views to their sexual preference -- a security firm said Monday.

[via Fergie's Tech Blog]

Monday, 23 May 2005 21:13:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Declan McCullagh writes on C|Net News:

Remote-controlled "zombie" networks operated by bottom-feeding spammers have become a serious problem that requires more industry action, the Federal Trade Commission is expected to announce on Tuesday.

The FTC and more than 30 of its counterparts abroad are planning to contact Internet service providers and urge them to pay more attention to what their customers are doing online. Among the requests: identifying customers with suspicious e-mailing patterns, quarantining those computers and offering help in cleaning the zombie code off the hapless PCs.

To be sure, computers infected by zombie programs and used to churn out spam are a real threat to the future of e-mail. One report by security firm Sophos found that compromised PCs are responsible for 40 percent of the world's spam--and that number seems to be heading up, not down.

But government pressure--even well-intentioned--on Internet providers to monitor their users raises some important questions.

[via Fergie's Tech Blog]

Monday, 23 May 2005 13:35:03 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 22 May 2005

Mobile Phones Change Ways Africans Live and Do Business

The rapid growth in mobile phone use throughout the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, is helping to transform national economies, producing a thriving entrepreneurial class and marked growth in private capital, according to Leonard Waverman, an economist with the London Business School.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington May 5 on a panel of fellow economists and representatives of one of Europe’s largest wireless telephone providers, Vodafone UK, Waverman pointed to the extensive use of mobile phone accounts in the developing countries as a new source of economic development in Africa.

Although mobile phone penetration is only about 9 percent in Africa generally, mobile phones account for approximately 75 percent of all telephone connections in 19 of the poorest African countries, Waverman said, adding, "If you look at it globally, the growth in the number of mobile telephone subscribers in developing countries is twice that in the developed world"

In most instances, he explained, mobile phone infrastructure is easier to set up and cheaper to maintain than the standard fixed-line telecommunications systems that were technological holdovers from the colonial past and often controlled by the government. The new systems sidestep the control issue, have fewer technical problems and are having a noticeable effect on the future of telecommunications in Africa, as antiquated analog networks are being replaced with newer digital ones.

Scott Wallsten, formerly an economist at the World Bank and now a fellow at AEI, added that "mobile telephony often succeeds in developing countries because state monopolies rarely view [the companies] as a threat -- until they are established. By then, the investment has been made, and the customer base has already been set up."

Waverman stressed that a good communications network is important in producing economic growth in developing nations by transforming the enterprise sector and spreading wealth as far as the voice can be carried through the ether.

"Information is power. Providing information to everyone takes the power away from the few. And we are seeing this [dynamic] occurring across much of Africa today. We are seeing the emergence of a new middle class," he said, as new businesses and businessmen emerge with new capital for growth.

[US Dept of State via my weblog]

Sunday, 22 May 2005 21:13:59 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Internet Telephony Providers Can Seek Exemption from Obligations: On April 15 2005 the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority published a policy paper entitled Regulation of VoIP Services. The paper presents the authority's views on how Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are regulated under Norwegian law.

The policy paper indicates that VoIP service offerings that are designed for any-to-any communication and are publicly available are considered to be publicly available telephony services. Therefore, these VoIP services are subject to all obligations to which providers of electronic communication services and publicly available telephony services are subject under the Electronic Communications Act and the Regulations on Electronic Communications Networks and Services.

The policy paper also indicates that the authority would consider granting temporary exemptions from some of the obligations imposed on internet telephony providers offering VoIP services that are designed for any-to-any communication and are publicly available.

On May 2 2005 the authority sent a letter to service providers offering VoIP services in Norway, requesting them to send applications for temporary exemptions by June 1 2005.

From International Law Office [via my weblog]

Sunday, 22 May 2005 18:32:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Spectrum policy in transition by Philippa MARKS and Kiyotaka YUGUCHI, Keio Communication Review No. 26 (2004). A comparison of spectrum policy in the UK, France and Japan. Also see ITU's related work in the Strategy and Policy Unit's Radio Spectrum Management for a Converging World.

[Keio University - Mediacom via my weblog]

Sunday, 22 May 2005 18:32:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Lucent Bets on Wireless and IMS

In a tail-wags-dog story, Lucent Technologies, long associated with telecom big iron, is literally throwing its weight and its product development into the air. “We see the wireline business eroding. Mobility has higher growth, and it appears mobility is the best target for the new services architecture—IMS (IP multimedia subsystem),” said Rand Edwards, Lucent’s director of strategy and marketing-network operations software group.

Lucent will make its migration policy very clear at next week’s Telemanagement World conference in Nice, France, where it will showcase its IMS-driven VitalSuite software, demonstrating how service providers can migrate it into their systems to expand offerings into more complex architectures that start first with next-gen services and applications on wireless networks.

Canadian wireless operator Telus has bought into the VitalSuite for its trouble-patterning capabilities to do detailed network surveillance through analysis and network problem identification.

IMS “is a pretty complex service delivery platform and being able to isolate where a problem might be occurring gets more difficult (and) might not be observable from a traditional fault or performance type of view,” Edwards said. “This type of diagnosis or analysis is going to become increasingly important.”

From [Telecom Flash via my weblog]

Mobile | NGN | Standards
Sunday, 22 May 2005 15:23:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

OPTA, the Independent Dutch Post and Telecommunications Authority, has released their annual Vision of the Market report. 

"The vision of the markets reflect the commission’s view on important trends and competition developments in the markets, as well as on the position of the end-user. In the annual report, OPTA accounts for its activities and results in the year 2004. The annual accounts give insight into OPTA’s financial house-keeping."

Each year OPTA publishes its Vision of the Market. The publication contains OPTA’s ideas regarding developments on the markets for post and electronic communication. The report furthermore recognizes that:

"The landscape in the communications sector is changing. Convergence is now reality: technological developments have made it possible to offer the same services using the same technology (the internet) via multiple types of networks. This is evident in the introduction of voice and television services via the internet. The communications sector is also broadening through integration with the IT, media and entertainment sectors. Convergence has as consequence that companies that did not compete in certain services in the past now do so. The competition potential is increasing, but the problem areas will not immediately disappear because network owners are still able to create entry barriers for competing parties. OPTA will intervene if and when providers abuse their dominant position."

For the full report, please click here.

[Via my weblog]

Sunday, 22 May 2005 15:18:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Security experts warm it would not be hard for a cyberpunk or terrorist to turn off the lights in a large portion of the U.S.

The article states that "The U.S. power grid, with its billions of dollars worth of electrical lines, switching stations, and electrical generators, is like a big shiny toy for computer hackers."

The article goes further on to say that "Power companies rely on a complex relay of information between delivery stations to regulate electrical flows. They send commands back to these stations to control the voltage and amperage allowed to flow to consumers. It is a network, just like the internet. And just like the internet, it is subject to attack."  

For the full article featured in RedHerring, click here.

Via Fergie's Tech Blog]

Sunday, 22 May 2005 09:28:33 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 21 May 2005

Latin American nations are finding unique uses for WiFi including building a Wi-Fi-linked e-payments network in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Quite clever actually since it cuts down merchants’ long-distance phone charges, and speeds up transactions. In Chilean pueblo of Cora Cora, 7000 residents can now connect to the Internet, via a WiFi network that is fed by a satellite pipe. This has been made possible through joint efforts by the local government authorities, business and community members.

"Project team members and the community now are moving forward with the project's next phase by developing Web sites and e-commerce services for government administration, business, academic and educational use. Plans to build wireless links, networks and similar services in the neighboring town of Chavi, some eight kilometers away, are also in the works".

For the full article, please see here.

[Via feed24]

Saturday, 21 May 2005 17:20:44 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

From NetWizard's Blog

While email authentication is no longer such hot topic as it was last year, nevertheless the two main proposals (SPF and Sender-ID) are moving slowly through the IETF process to become experimental protocols. Both just published new drafts (spf and sender-id [1], [2] and [3]). At the same time it is interesting to note that Sender-ID has been placed on the next telechat agenda for the IESG. While SPF has not been put on the IESG telechat, it will probably follow shortly.

What does this mean in simple non-IETF-speak terms? These two proposals may finally be approved by the IETF for experimental use - a long path that started way back in the ASRG two years ago. It still remains to be seen whether either one will be deployed and widely used, especially considering the pending patent applications that Microsoft has on Sender-ID and their GPL-incompatible license.

Saturday, 21 May 2005 08:08:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 20 May 2005

The internet edition of the "E-Commerce and Development Report 2004" published by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has been released. The E-commerce and Development Report is intended to provide policy-makers and practitioners with information and analysis to better assess the implications of the growing role of ICTs in economic development.

From the report foreword by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan:
"Information and communications technologies have considerable potential to promote development and economic growth. They can foster innovation and improve productivity. They can reduce transaction costs and make available, in mere seconds, the rich store of global knowledge. In the hands of developing countries, and especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, the use of ICTs can bring impressive gains in employment, gender equality and standards of living".

To view the full report and highlights from the report, click here.



Friday, 20 May 2005 11:41:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |