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 Monday, 09 October 2006

Wired News in an article brings attention to the insecurity of some of the new technologies online. “VOIP and Ajax -- are dangerously insecure, and likely to only get worse as they become more prevalent, according to security researchers presenting their findings at the ToorCon security conference.”

"Voice over internet protocol is going mainstream, available to consumers and increasingly replacing the private phone systems in businesses of all sizes. Like the traditional phone, a VOIP call is broken into two parts, or channels. The first is signaling, which negotiates things like when to start and stop a call, what to do if another call comes in, and what to do if something about the call changes. The second part is media, the bit where we talk. In most VOIP systems neither of these channels is actually encrypted."

"According to Dustin Trammell, VOIP security researcher at Tipping Point, this leaves most VOIP calls vulnerable. Calls can be hijacked without either party's knowledge anywhere along the route over the net that connects the call, and nearly all VOIP systems can fall victim to signal-channel attacks that can fake caller ID, degrade call quality, end calls suddenly, and crash the end device -- either your VOIP phone or computer. Internet telephony can even fall victim to denial-of-service attacks that flood a phone with fake requests to start a call, rendering it useless."

Read the full Wired News article on VOIP and AJAX security issues.

Monday, 09 October 2006 12:01:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 06 October 2006

Friday, 06 October 2006 17:53:51 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

‘Teledensity‘, or the number of phones per 100 inhabitants, is one of the more useful measures of an economy’s ICT infrastructure. In the early 1990s, ITU carried out research on the progress of Asia-Pacific economies in achieving the ‘teledensity transition‘ in their fixed-line networks (see left chart). The ‘teledensity transition‘ may be defined as passing from a teledensity of 10 lines per 100 inhabitants to 30 per 100. Below a teledensity of 10, access to telecommunications is restricted to a small part of the population and few businesses and therefore the impact of telecommunications on the economy and society is limited. With a teledensity above 30 per 100, access to telecommunications is available to a majority of households and virtually all businesses. Thus, the use of telecommunications can be expected to have a comparatively greater impact on the economy and society.

For the developed economies in the Asia-Pacific region, it took between 8 and 35 years (average 16 years) to make the transition between 1935 and 1995, with a progressive acceleration over time. However, for a sample of developing economies in the same region, it took only between 2 and 6 years (average 3 years) to make the transition between 1995 and 2006 (see right chart).

The main difference between the two charts is that the developed countries made the transition using fixed-line networks, whereas the developing economies have invariably made the transition using mobile networks. Mobile networks can generally be rolled out much more quickly, and more cheaply, and are more convenient for users (e.g., through pre-paid cards). Furthermore, mobile networks are relatively ‘development-neutral‘, in the sense that developed economies made the mobile teledensity transition only marginally more quickly (2.6 years) than developing ones (3.1 years).

For more insights from telecom transition and digital opportunity in the information society, please consult the World Information Society Report 2006.

Friday, 06 October 2006 17:16:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 05 October 2006

The Digital Opportunity Index (DOI), which is one of the two indices officially endorsed by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva 2003-Tunis 2005), can be used as a practical tool to track the changing dynamics driving the Information Society worldwide.

Europe is the most advanced region with a DOI score of 0.55, considerably higher than the world average (0.37), followed by the Americas (0.4). DOI scores show that basic telecom access and affordability are the main areas of achievement for most countries.

European countries, which are mostly developed economies, provide good digital opportunity for most of their inhabitants, with extensive infrastructure, generally low prices and widespread use of new technologies. Poorer European countries generally have medium DOI scores (e.g. Albania, Belarus, Turkey and Ukraine). Poland and Russia are among the top 15 gainers in the DOI worldwide over the period 2000-2005, making significant progress in ICT infrastructure.

The economies from the region are also leveraging their investments in infrastructure well in order to widely introduce new technologies and yield more advanced forms of usage. One interesting aspect of mobile Internet usage is the wide variation in access among countries of similar economic or geographic circumstances. Almost a third of Slovenian households and one fifth of Finnish households use mobile phones to access the Internet, while in other countries, less than five per pent of households use mobile phones to access the Internet.

Despite the favourable global picture, disparities in connectivity within the region persist and many are concerned about the European digital divide, which is likely to result from the sometimes modest convergence between the economies.

For more analysis on this and other related to digital opportunity issues, please consult the World Information Society Report 2006.

Thursday, 05 October 2006 17:39:55 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

GigaOM points to an interview with Skype co-founder Janus Friis where he discusses their new P2P television startup: The Venice Project.

Thursday, 05 October 2006 16:28:18 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Finnish Regulatory Communications Authority Ficora launched user ENUM into public commercial operation after a successful pilot phase that started in 2003. The database was cleared between the pilot phase and commercial operation and thus there are no delegations at the moment. A Ficora representative says: "Our next aim is to get as much support from telcos and registrars for ENUM as possible. Currently I'm optimistic for their support since we are having good discussions with all major Finnish telcos."

User ENUM is currently in commercial operation in Austria, Poland, Romania, Germany, Netherlands, and Finland. Ireland is still in negotiations.

This article was accessed through Richard's Blog on VOIP and ENUM.

What is ENUM?
ENUM is a protocol that is the result of work of the Internet Engineering Task Force's (IETF's) Telephone Number Mapping Working Group. The charter of this working group was to define a Domain Name System (DNS)-based architecture and protocols for mapping a telephone number to a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) which can be used to contact a resource associated with that number. The protocol itself is defined in RFC 3761: The E.164 to URI DDDS Application (ENUM), which obsoletes RFC 2916. The protocol provides facilities to resolve E.164 telephone numbers into other resources or services on the internet. ITU-T Recommendation E.164 is the international public telecommunication telephone numbering plan and current ENUM delegations can be found here. More information on ENUM can be found here.

Thursday, 05 October 2006 14:32:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 04 October 2006

The Digital Opportunity Index (DOI), which is one of the two indices officially endorsed by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva 2003-Tunis 2005), can be used as a practical tool to track the changing dynamics driving the Information Society worldwide.

The map illustrates the strong lead taken by Asia, together with Europe and North America, in realizing digital opportunity. Two Asian countries top the world rankings – the Republic of Korea and Japan, and the average DOI scores for the region are higher than the world average of 0.37. Central Asian countries are catching up fast with large infrastructural investments and strong gains in mobile and internet subscribers, including 3G mobile technologies (CDMA 2000 1x and W-CDMA). It is worth noting that five out of the top 15 gainers in the DOI come from the Asian region: these are India, China, Indonesia, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

The Asian Tigers, together with Scandinavian countries lead in internet subscriptions, with around a third of their population subscribing to the internet, but only half of these subscribed to broadband services. This is in contrast to the Republic of Korea, where virtually all internet users are broadband subscribers, with access to faster, advanced services such as video, teleconferencing, multiplayer gaming and triple play. These different profiles of internet usage could result in the development of more varied skill sets and contrasting rates of innovation and, over the longer term, may shape the Information Society differently, according to the type, speed and capacity of internet access available. However, there are often large differences in the level of development within the region - the Asia-Pacific region contains both high-income and Least Developed Countries. In many economies fixed line telephony has been challenged by the worldwide growth in mobile phones.

However, there remains a strong need for basic connectivity in Asia, where connectivity is the main factor driving the digital divide and limiting access to ICTs.

For more analysis on this and other related to digital opportunity issues, please consult the World Information Society Report 2006.

Wednesday, 04 October 2006 17:31:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

"The ICT industry is expected to grow by 6% in 2006 and, looking ahead, highest growth will be driven by Internet-related investments, Linux servers, digital storage, personal digital assistants and new portable consumer products." But any return to the heady days of 20% and 30% growth in many products and market segments in the 1990s are unlikely, according to the 2006 edition of the OECD’s Information Technology Outlook 2006.

For more information, see the OECD Information and Communications Policy website.

Wednesday, 04 October 2006 15:49:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Commission has signed a contract with the consortium Equant/Hewlett Packard for the provision of the infrastructure replacing several data communication infrastructures at EU level. sTESTA (Trans European Services for Telematics between Administrations), is the European Union's classified telecommunication network and responds to the growing need for secure information exchange between European and National administrations.

In order to respond to the need for a telecommunication network serving multiple stakeholders in multiple policy areas, the European Commission, the European Council, Europol and the European Railway Agency have joined forces. The sTESTA framework contract was awarded following a jointly launched tendering procedure. This contract will allow European and National Administrations to exchange data within several policy areas in a secured and reliable way. Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: "This initiative will make the EU’s electronic communication infrastructure considerably more efficient. It will enable us to better respond to the many challenges in the field of eGovernment, making our society more modern and safer."

Read more in the EC Press Release.

Wednesday, 04 October 2006 12:19:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The ITU and the EU's Daidalos Project plan a workshop on "Digital Identity for NGN" Dec. 5 in Geneva, officials said Mon. The Daidalos Project and VeriSign are advancing global standardization of digital identity management at the ITU, officials said. Proposals have been floated at ITU on handling the issue, but consensus is still forming. The aim of the workshop is to understand better providers' need to offer digital identity across layers of communication systems, administrative domains and other boundaries, documents said. Key challenges for developing a more consistent approach are to tackle the conflicting requirements of privacy, identification and security, documents said. The NGN-GSI Event will focus on identity management as a key theme during its meeting Oct. 23-Nov. 3, said an official involved in the work. The past year or 2, several research institutes in Japan, S. Korea and Switzerland have been interested in sensor network identifiers, he added. There's supposed to be an identity management piece in the October 23-24 Grid Workshop as well, the official said: "There's a whole burgeoning world of communicating sensor devices, and [they] will need some kind of identity to communicate whatever kind of sensing information they have."

Source: Warren's Washington Internet Daily

Wednesday, 04 October 2006 08:44:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 03 October 2006

The Digital Opportunity Index (DOI), which is one of the two indices officially endorsed by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva 2003-Tunis 2005), can be used as a practical tool to track the changing dynamics driving the Information Society worldwide.

The Americas are the second most advanced region in terms of ICT development, following Europe. DOI scores show that basic telecom access and affordability are the main areas of achievement for most countries. In low income Latin American countries, digital opportunity mostly derives from access to cellular service and affordable telecoms. Meanwhile, high-income North-American countries are successfully realizing digital opportunity through high-performance infrastructure (e.g., broadband) and the use of advanced technologies.

In North America, the economies provide good digital opportunity for most of their inhabitants, with extensive infrastructure, generally low prices and widespread use of new technologies. From the Latin American countries, Chile is the highest-ranking Latin American country at 40th place in the DOI for 2005, followed by Argentina at 51st place.

Four of the Top 15 gainers in the DOI over the period 2001-2005 are from Latin America – Chile, Brazil, Argentina and Peru – the latter two are also among the very rare cases where Utilization exceeds Infrastructure. The strong gains in Utilization in Chile and Venezuela resulted from early policies for privatization and a vibrant private sector has successfully promoted telecommunications and the higher-margin broadband segment in these countries.

Caribbean states also generally do well in the DOI. This may be due to an ‘island effect’, where small islands may specialize in ICT intensive offshore industries reliant on telecommunications. Barbados, Jamaica and Antigua and Barbuda all have high DOI scores.

The DOI registers a steady expansion in the number of mobile Internet subscribers, reflected in the steady increase in Utilization over time. Most notably, the DOI shows that mobile Internet and 3G services are no longer the preserve of high-income countries and are now offered in many developing countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in central and eastern Asia. The 2005 Mobinet study on global mobile usage reports an upward trend in the percentage of multimedia phone users in Latin America browsing the internet or using mobile e-mail at least once a month on their phones, which jumped from 32 per cent in 2004 to 64 per cent in 2005.

For more analysis on this and other related to digital opportunity issues, please consult the World Information Society Report 2006.

Tuesday, 03 October 2006 16:56:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The International Telecommunication Union along with the Commonwealth Telecommunication Organization (CTO) organized a three-day Forum 26-28 September on Using ICT for Effective Disaster Management. The meeting at Ochos Rios, Jamaica adopted a road map for better coordination in the use of state-of-the-art information and communication technologies (ICT) aimed at improved disaster preparedness and mitigation.

The roadmap includes: formulation of appropriate policies deployment of appropriate technologies ratification and implementation of the Tampere Convention for free movement of technical equipment in case of disaster capacity building for users of ICT services and applications establishment of national platforms that help countries to be ready to use ICT when disasters strike development of common regional strategies on integrating ICT in all phases of disaster mitigation: early warning, preparedness, response and relief

At the Ochos Rios meeting, comments from Jamaican government officials and several regional Caribbean representatives focused on the ability, or lack of ability, of governments, telecom carriers, IT backup service providers, businesses enterprise customers and other private-sector organizations to cope with their most comment peril: tropical hurricanes. The intense 2005 hurricane season brought a record 27 storms (including Emily, Katrina and Wilma) into the region. "Following the 2004 Ivan hurricane disaster and Emily in 2005, it became evident that the lack of communications was one of the significant weaknesses of the regional disaster management framework," says Philip Paulwell, Jamaica's Minister of Industry, Technology, Energy Commerce. "Intra-agency communications as well as public information have been identified as requiring improvement." "There's an urgent need to establish effective and comprehensive communication links between the affected areas, national disaster response facilities and with the larger international community.

For further details, see the ITU press release on this topic.

Tuesday, 03 October 2006 12:56:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The United States National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), a consortium of government agencies and private industry sponsors, aims to educate the public about core security protections this October, during the national cyber security awareness month, with its campaign on 'Cyber Security: Make It A Habit'.

U.S. National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a national campaign designed to increase the public’s awareness of cyber security and crimes issues, so that users can take precautions to avoid these threats on the Internet. The month will feature public relations activities, educational programs, events and initiatives throughout October that targets Home Users, Small Businesses, Education audiences (K-12 and higher education), and Child Safety online.

See the U.S. National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2006 website for further information on this collective effort aimed at protecting the public from internet threats.
Tuesday, 03 October 2006 10:26:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU-T is hosting a workshop NGN and Grids in collaboration with the Open Grid Forum (OGF) in Geneva , 23-24 October 2006. Grid computing enables organizations to pool IT resources across departmental and organizational boundaries in a secure, highly efficient manner in order to solve massive computational problems.

Next generation networks (NGN) offer increased quality and service features for users, independent of the underlying transport technology. ITU-T’s Global Standards Initiative on Next Generation Network (NGN-GSI) is well under way and is responding to urgent market needs for global NGN standards.

The workshop will explore how Grids will work in an NGN environment by bringing together experts from both communities.
The telco community is eyeing Grid development with interest. Telcos could use grids internally, for billing and simulations for example but new revenue streams can be foreseen in areas such as managed grid services.

One panel discussion and Q&A will pose the question: "What can Grids do for Telcos and what can Telcos do for Grids?" Other panel discussions will examine NGN management and security. From a telecoms perspective there are some challenges such as QoS, how to control the network, how to manage dynamic provisioning and how to provide collision-free addresses (IPv4 <-> NAT). It is expected that all of these topics and more will be addressed. A key result of the event will be a gap analysis of standards in the field and a better understanding of how grids can be catered for in ITU-T’s NGN Release 2. An action plan outlining what work needs to be done, and where can then be developed.

See the ITU-T Newslog for more details on the workshop.

Tuesday, 03 October 2006 09:13:12 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU-T Study Groups meeting under the auspices of the NGN Global Standards Initiative (NGN-GSI) in July 2006, finalized a substantial body of work. Sixteen new standards went into the final stages of the ITU approval process in areas including requirements, architecture, QoS and security. Around 650 documents were considered by the lead Study Group on NGN, Study Group 13, alone. Study Group management reported high levels of participation and good progress.

Two rather fundamental documents describing requirements for NGN and describing the functional architecture of the NGN will be published as ITU-T Recommendations after formal approval. Also, QoS, a crucial element as networks move to an environment inherently more susceptible to delay, interference etc. was a key focus. One new Recommendation was consented in this field.

Experts also point to the importance of a Recommendation (ITU-T Rec. Y.2021) describing how the IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) as specified by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2) can be used in the NGN context. A Recommendation from Study Group 19 on mobility management was also highlighted.

See the NGN Global Standards Initiative (NGN-GSI) website for further details.

Tuesday, 03 October 2006 09:12:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

PhishTank is a collaborative clearing house for data and information about phishing on the Internet. PhishTank was launched by the people behind OpenDNS and will be used to dynamically block access to phishing sites. For more information, see their FAQ.

Tuesday, 03 October 2006 08:23:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 02 October 2006

The Digital Opportunity Index (DOI), which is one of the two indices officially endorsed by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Geneva 2003-Tunis 2005), can be used as a practical tool to track the changing dynamics driving the Information Society worldwide.

The DOI scores for 2005 are sharply differentiated according to region. Africa, the region with some of the poorest countries in the world, is greatly impacted by the digital divide. Europe, the Americas and Asia all have average DOI scores higher than the world average of 0.37, while Africa has an average DOI score of 0.20, mainly due to limited Utilization and fixed line infrastructure. When compared to other regions, Africa ranks last with an average regional DOI score of barely one-third that of Europe (0.55). The African strong-performers are Mauritius, the Seychelles and North African countries (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt).

The DOI map of Africa here below shows a pattern of high scores among the North African economies (Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) - Egypt is also the only African country in the Top 15 gainers in the DOI, having realized a gain of 32 per cent in digital opportunity over the period 2000-2005. By contrast, low-ranking economies are mostly inland, in the Sub-Saharan region, and also include economies such as Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Niger and Sierra Leone.

Nevertheless, despite the overall situation, many African countries are making progress in reducing their internal gaps. As a region, Africa has the highest growth rate in mobile cellular subscribers of any region, with a 66 per cent growth rate in 2005, with Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa accounting for 60 per cent of the new mobile subscribers added in the region. In 2005, Nigeria alone added 9.7 million subscribers, which represents about 7 per cent of its total population. Mobile phones provide more than three-quarters of all the phone connections in 19 countries in Africa. As Africa shows, the tendency of developing countries to promote mobile coverage and utilization over fixed services makes the DOI’s mobile components particularly useful for monitoring advances in regional markets.

From a telecommunication policy perspective, high-ranking countries illustrate the influence of liberalization and competition in promoting opportunity and infrastructure deployment. Most of the North African countries, as well as Senegal and South Africa, have opened their fixed and mobile markets to competition and are rapidly increasing high-speed network deployment. Competition is helping to reduce tariffs and introduce service packages that respond better to the needs of the population. In Algeria, for instance, the entry of a third wireless cellular provider triggered new strategies for prepaid services that had not previously been offered by the incumbents.

For more analysis on these and other issues related to measuring digital opportunity, please consult the World Information Society Report 2006.

Monday, 02 October 2006 17:55:21 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 01 October 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, 01 October 2006 14:46:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 28 September 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.

CSIA’s 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 nation’s 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, 28 September 2006 13:58:32 (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.


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, 28 September 2006 11:34:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 25 September 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, 25 September 2006 20:31:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 22 September 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 ITU’s 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, 22 September 2006 17:11:00 (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, 22 September 2006 15:11:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 21 September 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 ‘hands-on’ 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 India’s 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, 21 September 2006 14:22:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 20 September 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, 20 September 2006 15:11:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 19 September 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 user’s 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 competitors’ 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, 19 September 2006 14:06:32 (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, 19 September 2006 13:04:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 18 September 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, 18 September 2006 11:38:23 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |