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 Sunday, October 01, 2006

"Yahoo has announced it will give away the browser-based authentication used in its email service, considered to be the company's 'crown jewel', in a bid to encourage software developers to build new applications based on e-mail". 

"Yahoo is a very large company but we can't build every applications that a user might want," a Yahoo representative said in an interview. "You can imagine tens of thousands of niche applications (springing) from Yahoo Mail." "Software developers have traditionally kept careful control of the underlying programming code of their products and allowed outsiders to make only incremental improvements. In recent years, Web developers have opened up that process to encourage outsiders far deeper access to the underlying code. Open applications like Google Maps and Yahoo's own Flickr have inspired a new wave of programming in which developers can combine software features from different companies to create what are known as 'mashups' -- hybrid Web products"

"Yahoo made the announcement ahead of a 24-hour Yahoo Hack Day, where it had invited more than 500 mostly youthful outside programmers to build new applications using Yahoo services. Considering the different needs of its huge user base (257 million people use Yahoo Mail), Yahoo has decided it can't build or buy enough innovation, so they are enlisting the worldwide developer community. The code will be released late in 2006. Yahoo notes that there are 'no security risks' since they keep absolute control of usernames and passwords."

Read the full article in Yahoo News.
This story was accessed through Slashdot.

Sunday, October 01, 2006 2:46:26 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Strategic and Coordinated Approach Needed for Cybersecurity In a recent GovTech article, the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) calls for a more strategic and coordinated approach from the U.S. government to ensure the nation's cybersecurity.

CSIAís Executive Director Paul Kurtz emphasized that "the level of attention given to securing our information infrastructure is inadequate considering the reliance of Americans on the nationís cyber systems." "In testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Kurtz highlighted the importance of the nation's cyber systems, calling them the newest and most pervasive portion of our critical infrastructure, and discussed the federal government's role in its protection. At the core of CSIA's recommendations is the need for a Strategic National Information Assurance Policy that would outline the key roles that relevant government agencies should play in the protection of our cyber infrastructure."

"No single entity owns our information infrastructure and no single government agency is solely responsible for its protection." "While the Department of Homeland Security clearly plays a critical role, many other agencies share responsibility for the overall well being of our cyber systems," said Kurtz. "Yet the government has shown little strategic direction or leadership when it comes to ensuring the resiliency and integrity of our information infrastructure and the protection of the privacy of our citizens. This is baffling when one considers that nearly every service we use, from our communications and utility networks to our financial and medical systems, is in some way reliant upon our nation's digital networks." Kurtz called out the need for a cyber early warning system that provides the nation with situational awareness of attacks.

Read the full story here.

Thursday, September 28, 2006 1:58:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ITU has unveiled a new website Partnerships for Global Cybersecurity dedicated to moderation/facilitation activities related to implementation of WSIS Action Line C5: Building Confidence and Security in the Use of ICTs.

Background

The outcome documents from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) emphasize that building confidence and security in the use of ICTs is a necessary pillar for building a global information society (see extracts). The Tunis Agenda describes the establishment of a mechanism for implementation and follow-up to WSIS and requests ITU to play a facilitator/moderator role for WSIS Action Line C5: Building Confidence and Security in the Use of ICTs. In order to stress the importance of the multi-stakeholder implementation of related work programmes, ITU has named this the Partnerships for Global Cybersecurity initiative.

Here's how to participate and how to contact us if you would like to contribute to the work programmes.

Work Programmes

Based on the first facilitation meeting held in May 2006 and the related Chairman's Report, work programmes in three focus areas have been initiated:

For general information on WSIS implementation as a whole, including other action lines and themes, see here.

 

Thursday, September 28, 2006 11:34:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 25, 2006

In a Wall Street Journal article we can read about Second Life, and fashion. "Like offline fashion designers, Second Lifers can spend hours or days sketching and developing the textures and patterns of a single garment, then refining its measurements through fittings on an online model."

"Second Life is a simulated world with more than 700,000 "residents," or players, who sometimes refer to their offline existence as their 'first life.' As in earlier computer simulation games like the Sims series, the point isn't to fulfill a quest, and there are no dragons or wizards to slay. Instead, San Francisco-based Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, has provided a platform for players -- median age 32 and 57% male, with 40% living outside the U.S. -- to do whatever they want, whether it is building a business, tending bar or launching a space shuttle. Residents chat, shop, build homes, travel and hold down jobs, and they are encouraged to create items in Second Life that they can sell to others or use themselves."

"The items and services are virtual, but real money is involved. Second Life's in-game currency, Linden dollars, is based on U.S. dollars ($1 U.S. buys about 280 Linden dollars). Many virtual items are bought and sold in Second Life, but clothing has emerged as one of the hottest categories."

Read the full WSJ article here.

This story was accessed through Slashdot.

Monday, September 25, 2006 8:31:54 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 22, 2006

As part of the ITU's work in follow-up to the WSIS, the World Information Society Report 2006 is addressed to all stakeholders and intended to provide insights as well as useful benchmarks for building the Information Society. The Report gives practical examples of how the DOI can be used, and highlights projects around the world that are working to meet the commitments made at the WSIS.

Chapter five, Beyond WSIS: Making a difference globally, focuses on WSIS implementation and follow-up in different countries. The WSIS called for governments to move from principles into action. There are many efforts underway, both large and small, to implement the WSIS goals, involving a range of stakeholders at the community level, regionally, nationally and internationally. This chapter of the report highlights some of these initiatives to implement the WSIS Plan of Action, from national strategies to grassroots projects. A variety of initiatives have been launched to promote digital opportunity, infrastructure and advanced ICT applications and these highlight fresh approaches and innovative new solutions to ICT development.

One of the biggest challenges for the uptake of ICTs and for building a people-centered and development-oriented Information Society is the affordability of the services. The Digital Opportunity Index monitors the mobile communications that promise to bridge the digital divide in many parts of the world, as well as more recent technologies such as broadband and mobile Internet access. The price of broadband continues to fall worldwide, by as much as twenty per cent a year over the last two years according to ITUís analysis, while broadband speeds continue to increase. The lower cost of ICTs greately facilitates their diffusion and utilization, and contributes to increased digital opportunity.

Internet affordability (cost of 20h internet connection as a % of monthly GDP per capita)

Note: 1 means affordable; 0 means that the price of lower-user basket is in excess of average GNI per capita.

These positive trends are not restricted to developed countries, and many valuable multi-stakeholder initiatives are underway to further promote ICT development worldwide in the wake of WSIS. 

The DOI has been developed by a multi-stakeholder partnership, the Digital Opportunity Platform, comprising ITU, UNCTAD and KADO (the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion) and which is open to new partners. It will be reported annually in order to track progress in reaching the WSIS targets, and building a diverse and inclusive Information Society, by 2015.

Friday, September 22, 2006 5:11:00 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dear Subscribers,

We regret to inform you that as a result of scheduling complications it has been necessary to postpone the Market Mechanisms for Spectrum Management Workshop from the 2nd and 3rd of November 2006 to the 22nd and 23rd of January 2007.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Those directly affected will be contacted by us individually.

More information about the workshop and related activities can be found here.

Friday, September 22, 2006 3:11:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Chapter Four: From Measurement to Policy-Making" considers the changing telecommunications policy landscape, in areas of universal access/service, affordability, digital inclusion, broadband and wireless, amongst others. It shows how policy-makers can use the Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) to inform policy-making and policy design to achieve the WSIS goals. The DOI is not an abstract mathematical construction, but has real Ďhands-oní applications for policy-makers, particularly in the context of the commitments made by governments at the World Summit on the Information Society.

Chapter Four uses the DOI for analysing digital gaps between regions at the national and international levels, for assessing gender gaps and for monitoring digital inclusion. The DOI is a useful policy tool that can be adapted to assess all of these data requirements. Chapter four of the World Information Society Report uses the DOI to analyse digital opportunity throughout the continent of Africa; perform a benchmark comparison of Indiaís performance relative to its neighbouring countries (see Figure below); examine regional disparities in digital opportunity in Brazil; and examine the gender gap in the Czech Republic. The chapter also outlines the next steps in ICT measurement for policy-making that the Digital Opportunity Platform plans to undertake.

Using the DOI for Policy Purposes

To find out more about the World Information Society Report, please click here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006 2:22:38 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, September 20, 2006

"Chapter Three: Information Society Trends" tracks the shifting dynamics of the Information Society worldwide. It monitors the changes in digital opportunity across different countries and regions, and investigates those that have made the strongest gains in digital opportunity.

The Asian economies of the Republic of Korea and Japan continue to lead in digital opportunity, mainly due to their pioneering take-up of broadband and 3G mobile services. Nearly all Internet subscribers in the Republic of Korea are broadband subscribers, whilst Japan is the only market where Internet subscribers are most likely to access Internet over their mobile. Dramatic progress has been achieved by developing countries, however, which made the greatest progress in digital opportunity - notably India, where digital opportunity nearly doubled between 2001 and 2005, and China, which experienced remarkably strong gains in infrastructure. Some countries are leveraging their investments in infrastructure more successfully than others, however.

Major Gainers in digital opportunity (2001-2005)

Note: Component indices of the DOI are represented by O = Opportunity; I = Infrastructure; U = Utilization.

Chapter three analyses trends in digital opportunity, broadband speed and price, as well as the price of other telecommunication services. Find out more about the WISR here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006 3:11:25 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In a press release, Gartner, Inc. advises businesses to plan for five increasingly prevalent cyberthreats that have the potential to inflict significant damage on organisations during the next two years. These threats are:

  • Targeted threats (Targeted threats are cyber attacks with a financial motivation that are aimed at one company or one industry);
  • Identity theft (Identity theft refers to the theft of an individual's personal or financial information for the purpose of stealing money or committing other types of crimes);
  • Spyware (Spyware is malicious software that can probe systems, reporting user behaviour to an advertiser or other party without the userís knowledge);
  • Social engineering (Social engineering is the practice of obtaining confidential information by manipulating legitimate users);
  • Viruses (Viruses are malicious programmes that use a propagation method to enable widespread distribution.)

According to Amrit Williams, research director at Gartner, "We are seeing an increasingly hostile environment fuelled by financially motivated and targeted cyber attacks. By 2008 we expect that 40 percent of organisations will be targeted by financially motivated cybercrime."

"Cyber attacks are not new, but what is changing is the motivation behind them. They are no longer just executed by hackers for hobby or cybervandilism, but by professionals with a targeted aim at one person, one company or one industry," said Williams.

"For example, we have recently seen several companies hiring private investigators to spy on their competitors. Private investigators used Trojans to install targeted spyware on competitorsí computers to gather confidential information about such things as upcoming bids and customers."

Gartner said that social engineering and viruses will remain an everyday nuisance for chief information security officers through 2009. It warned that in the next two years, at least 50 percent of organisations will experience a social engineering or a virus attack."

Access the full report and Gartner news release here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 2:06:32 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"Chapter Two: Measuring the Information Society" introduces the structure and methodology of the Digital Opportunity Index (DOI). It explains why the component indicators were chosen and how they measure different aspects of digital opportunity, in: opportunity to access telecommunications (including basic access to telecommunications and affordability, with detailed price information); the basic infrastructure available in a country; and actual utilization of ICTs, in the use of the Internet and broadband technologies (fixed and mobile).

This chapter reviews trends in the individual indicators making up the DOI, including: the growth of mobile coverage (both 2G and 3G); a comparison of Internet and mobile prices; household penetration of ICTs and broadband and mobile Internet. It illustrates these trends with a wealth of country information and regional comparisons, to show how the DOI captures the growth in digital opportunity around the world.

The DOI is a flexible and forward-looking index, which includes measurement of the promising technologies of tomorrow in broadband and mobile Internet subscribers (as a proportion of total Internet subscribers and total mobile subscribers). It is the major index to date that includes up-to-date and current price information for both mobile and Internet access. Find out more and download the DOI as part of the World Information Society Report here.

Structure of the DOI:

The DOI is currently being updated for 2006 information, as part of the ongoing work programme of the Digital Opportunity Platform.

 

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 1:04:40 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, September 18, 2006

"Chapter One: A Summit for Building the Information Society" outlines the background to the World Information Society Report (WISR). It sets out the background to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in the origins, aims and achievements of the Summit. In particular, it considers the call by member governments for an effective means and methodology for follow-up to monitor progress in building the Information Society through implementation of the Summit's recommendations.

The Geneva Plan of Action calls for a composite ICT Development (Digital Opportunity) Index to be published annually, or every two years, in a report on ICT development to clarify the magnitude of the digital divide in both its domestic and international dimensions.

Chapter One of the WISR reviews WSIS implementation since the Summit concluded in Tunis in November 2005, and explains why composite indices give a more complete picture of the development of the Information Society in any given economy than a single indicator. It gives an overview of the main composite Indices for measuring Digital Opportunity, and how they differ. It concludes by explaining the main virtues of the Digital Opportunity Index, especially for developing countries: it evaluates digital opportunity in 180 countries, the most of any index published to date; it is based on standard indicators (as defined by the Partnership for Measuring ICT for Development); it uses objective data rather than survey data; it can be split into its fixed and mobile components, so developing countries can be measured on the basis of their strengths; it uses household penetration data (which favour developing countries, on the basis of their large average household size); and it is simple and easy-to-use.

"Chapter One: A Summit for Building the Information Society" of the World Information Society Report can be downloaded for free here.

Monday, September 18, 2006 11:38:23 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, September 15, 2006

Business Communications Review has an article entitled The Botnet Threat reviewing a recent report put out by Arbor Networks, which surveyed ISPs about their biggest security concerns.

"When they surveyed 55 ISPs, McPherson and Labovitz discovered that distributed denial of service attacks, and the related threat of botnets, remain the biggest security problem that ISPs face. Together, these two elements were named as the top threat by 77 percent of respondents. "Brute-force attacks remain the most predominant attack type on the Internet today," the authors write.

The largest sustained attack reported by the survey respondents was a whopping 17 Gbps; a UDP flood of 22 million packets per second (pps) and a SYN flood of 14 million pps have also been reported. "The magnitude of these attacks is incredible when you consider that a 14 Mpps SYN flood can nearly fill an entire OC-192 (10 Gbps) circuit with a minimum packet size," McPherson and Labovitz write. "Any one of these attacks, or even a fraction thereof, can create significant pain for even the largest ISP networks in the world today."

The report also cites what the authors call "a new and disturbing observation" made by one respondent: Not only are botnets highly organized and "uniformly gargantuan," but there's an increasing amount of marketing of these botnets. ("Blast your affiliate numbers overnight!" is a typical pitch they report seeing.)"

Friday, September 15, 2006 8:45:03 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ITUís Strategy and Policy Unit (SPU) is delighted to announce over 17,000 downloads of its major new report, the World Information Society Report (WISR), over the two months since its publication.

As part of the ITUís follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the Report charts progress in building the Information Society and track the dynamics driving digital opportunity worldwide using a new toolóthe Digital Opportunity Index (DOI). The DOI is part of the agreed evaluation methodology endorsed during the WSIS and will be published annually in the World Information Society Report to track progress in reaching the WSIS targets and building a diverse and inclusive Information Society by 2015.

The WISR shows how the Digital Opportunity Index can be used to strengthen policy-making by monitoring the critical areas of the digital divide, universal access, gender and the promotion of broadband and universal service policies. The Report is addressed to policy-makers, regulators, academics, public and other stakeholders with an interest in telecommunications and development.

Starting next week, SPU will profile a different chapter of the World Information Society Report each day, to show how the Information Society is evolving and how you can contribute to WSIS follow-up. 

For more information, please see the WISR website

Friday, September 15, 2006 1:13:34 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 14, 2006

In the latest issue of Total Telecom, an article entitled No Signal discusses the need to develop an NGN global interconnection regime.

"NTTs CEO and CTO have raised the alarm and are calling for the worlds operators to start work on new interconnection models today, before NGNs are in place, and more importantly before legacy networks are switched off.

At a CEO summit hosted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in Geneva in July, NTTs president and CEO, Norio Wada, called for a new interconnect framework that will extend national NGNs into a secure and fully managed global IP network."

Thursday, September 14, 2006 10:24:31 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

InfoWorld reports that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released the findings of Operation Cyber Storm, a large-scale simulation of combined cyber-physical attacks on U.S. critical infrastructure.

"The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its public findings from Operation Cyber Storm, a large-scale tabletop simulation of a coordinated cyber attack on the government and critical infrastructure that was held in February, 2006. The exercise involved US-CERT, the Homeland Security Operation center as well as the National Cyber Response Coordination Group (NCRCG) and the Intragency Incident Management Group (IIMG), various ISACs from the transportation, energy, IT and telecommunications sectors, and 100 private sector companies." "The exercise simulated a large-scale cyber campaign that disrupts multiple critical infrastructure, as well as simulated "physical demonstrations and distrubances" to test the ability of government to respond to multiple incidents simultaneously, even when its not clear that the events are related (read: 9/11)."

From the article: According to DHS, "observers noted that players had difficulty ascertaining what organizations and whom within those organizations to contact when there was no previously established relationship or pre-determined plans for response coordination and risk assessments/mitigation. There was a general recognition of the difficulties organizations faced when attempting to establish trust with unfamiliar organizations during time of crisis."

Read the InfoWorld article here.
See the DHS press release on Operation Cyber Storm. 

This article was accessed via Slashdot.

Thursday, September 14, 2006 9:49:12 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Within the framework of the 17th European Regional ITS Conference, session on the Next Generation Infrastructure (see programme)C.B. Blankart, G. Knieps, and P. Zenhšusern presented their new paper on "Regulation of New Markets in Telecommunications? Market Dynamics and Shrinking Monopolistic Bottlenecks".

In the paper the Authors focuse on the debate on the EU telecommunications regulatory framework and analyse whether new markets create new monopolistic bottlenecks or extend the borderlines of existing bottlenecks. Three kinds of transmission qualities on service markets can be dif-ferentiated according to the products provided: narrowband services like PSTN/ISDN or GSM, semi high-speed broadband services like broadband inter-net access up to 6 Mbps download and VDSL services up to 50 Mbps. As long as, due to the absence of alternative network infrastructures, a monopolistic bot-tleneck in local infrastructure networks exists the question arises what the re-maining bottleneck components are for these different markets. In this paper we will demonstrate the shrinking-bottleneck hypothesis.

Download the full version of the paper.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 6:02:05 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

European Commission published three studies by external consultants on the review of the EU 2003 regulatory framework.The three studies are the following:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 2:53:21 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, September 07, 2006

A recent APDIP e-Note goes into the discussion of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) and Internet Governance.

As the number of non-English speakers on the Internet grows exponentially, the limitations of the Domain Name System have become evident to many.

The APDIP e-Note examines "how IDNs relate to cultural diversity and the basic human right to communicate in one's own language on the Internet. While the bulk of the content on the Internet has been in English, this is rapidly changing. In China, for example, over 60 million of the nation's 100 million-plus users browse the web only in Chinese, yet top-level domain names remain in Roman script for all users. The APDIP e-Note further discusses the ongoing debate on how best to allow users to navigate the Internet in their own language. Different systems available for multilingual domain names and future scenarios are also explored.

Download the full APDIP e-Note.
View other APDIP e-Resources here.

The Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDIP) is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that aims to promote the development and application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for sustainable human development in the Asia-Pacific region.

Thursday, September 07, 2006 11:53:59 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A select committee has recommended a major change to New Zealand's anti-spam bill, suggesting anyone should be able to send unsolicited emails that are of an entirely non-commercial nature and need not desist even if asked to do so by the recipient. The original anti-spam bill said that organisations that sent unsolicited emails to promote their aims or ideals - such as school newsletters and messages from political lobbyists - would fall foul of the spam bill. This is if they did not stop sending messages when asked to do so, by letting recipients "opt-out". The select committee dropped this requirement in amendments it proposed early September 2006.

The proposed amendments also drop the legal requirement that spam be reported to a customer's internet service provider before Internal Affairs could take action. Other proposed amendments eliminate the distinction between emails whose prime purpose is commercial and ones that are primarily promotional, but which contain a commercial element, and lift a ban on possessing or supplying email harvesting software, but bans New Zealanders from using such software to send spam.

This news item was retrieved through the APCAUCE Newslog.
The full article is available at stuff.co.nz.

Thursday, September 07, 2006 11:50:37 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In a recent press release, Gartner, Inc. says that the number of households around the world subscribing to Internet Protocol television (IPTV) services offered by telecom carriers will reach 48.8 million in 2010. Buoyed by new service launches, IPTV subscribers will more than double in 2007 from an expected 6.4 million in 2006 to 13.3 million according to Gartner.

Despite the eight-fold increase in users between 2006 and 2010, Gartner says that carriers will struggle to turn IPTV into a mainstream Pay TV distribution platform on par with established cable or satellite services. "The difficulty in carving out a distinctive proposition that will clearly differentiate early IPTV services from other established TV options will lead many service providers around the world to drive adoption by competing on price in the next few years", said Elroy Jopling, research director at Gartner. "As a result, the global picture for IPTV revenue is much less impressive than for subscriber numbers."

"Global IPTV revenue during the period will grow from $872 million in 2006 to a still relatively modest $13.2 billion by 2010. IPTV will not be a panacea to replace diminishing voice revenue for carriers, but in the medium term it can be a powerful tool for carriers in helping retain customers on their existing voice and broadband services."

Gartner defines IPTV as the delivery of video programming (either broadcast or on-demand) over a carrierís managed broadband network to a customerís TV set. It does not include streaming media over the Internet to a PC.

See the full press release on the Garner website.

Thursday, September 07, 2006 11:45:39 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |