International Telecommunication Union   ITU
Site Map Contact us Print Version
 Thursday, 01 March 2007

Kaspersky Lab, a developer of secure content management solutions, recently announced its annual report on malware and spam evolution. The report, authored by Kaspersky Lab analysts, surveys the trends of 2006 and looks at what 2007 may bring.

Malware Evolution: 2006. The report provides an overview of the most important incidents in the malware world, highlights the main trends, and examines how the situation will evolve. Particular stress is laid on the continuing increase in the number of Trojan programs, particularly those designed to steal online gaming account data; the first viruses and worms for MacOS; and Trojans for J2ME, which are designed to steal funds from mobile user accounts. The number of new malicious programs was up 41% on 2005. As for the future evolution of malicious programs, Kaspersky Lab virus analysts believe that virus writers and spammers will work ever more closely together; the number of Trojans will continue to increase; and that virus writers will be on the lookout for exploitable vulnerabilities in Vista.

Spam Evolution: 2006. Data provided by the Kaspersky Spam Lab shows that in 2006, between 70% and 80% of mail traffic on the Russian Internet was spam. The majority of spam sent to Russian users originates in Russia, the U.S.A. and China. Spammers actively used graphics in order to evade spam filters. They are also continued to send spam masquerading as personal correspondence in order to get the recipient to read the whole message and then act as the spammers intended, whether by calling a designated number or clicking on a link. The report on spam evolution also highlights how mass mailings differ from each other according to language: most Russian language spam offers education and training, and a wide range of goods ranging from busts of the Russian president to a device which will 'translate' a dog's bark. English language spam, on the other hand, tends to focus on advertising for stocks and shares, viagra and cheap software. The report also notes that spam became increasingly criminalized in 2006, with spammers actively using SMS to spread spam.

The company's analysts believe that technologies currently in use will continue to evolve in 2007, together with further development of graphical spam, and increased criminalization of mass mailings.

Read the executive summaries here: Malware Evolution: 2006 and Spam Evolution: 2006.
The full annual report can be found here.  

This news item was accessed through Russia Newswire.

Thursday, 01 March 2007 16:03:34 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU-T Study Group 2’s February meeting saw work continue on harmonizing numbering resources for child helplines. Study Group 2 is looking at the issue following a request from Child Helpline International (CHI). CHI is a global network of telephone helplines and outreach services for children and young people.

Specifically Study Group 2 is looking at the logistics of providing a global number. It previously conducted a survey which discovered that a wide range of numbers are in use globally and that there is support in many countries for studying a more harmonized solution. A review process will be an initial assessment of all of the various options for introducing childrens’ helplines. The fundamental question is whether a single number can be deployed worldwide. Other issues include how regulators will handle migration from existing services and who pays for the services.

See the Study Group 2 website and ITU-T Newslog for further information.

Thursday, 01 March 2007 09:20:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 27 February 2007

The SHA-1 algorithm, which has been widely used in many of today's mainstream security products since 1995, was significantly compromised in February 2005 by a team of researchers led by Xiaoyun Wang based at China’s Shandong University. (This team had already undertaken attacks against the MD5 and SHA: hash functions previously, prior to their attack on SHA-1).

Their success prompted calls for a replacement algorithm. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology had already announced that they planned to phase out the use of SHA-1 by 2010 in favour of the SHA-2 variants. The need for a replacement algorithm has now led NIST to launch a contest to devise a successor on 27 January 2007. The competition is to begin in the fall of 2008, and continue until 2011, with full completion and approval by 2012. Contests like this one have a promising history in cryptography. Notably, the Advanced Encryption Standard (devised as a more secure replacement to the prior Data Encryption Standard) was devised through an open competition between fifteen teams of cryptographers between 1997-2000.

Tuesday, 27 February 2007 16:28:05 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 21 February 2007

The New York Times has published an article on the early moves by European governments to implement the European Union Data Retention Directive.  The initial programs proposed by the governments of Germany and the Netherlands are more stringent than the directive requires.  The New York Times has noted that some of the people involved in this issue are concerned that these programs may represent a policy shift within Europe, which has traditionally followed a policy of protecting individuals' privacy rights.

More information can be found here.

The New York Times article can be found here.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007 16:56:30 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 15 February 2007

This summary provides a general discussion of the amended Information Network and Privacy Protection Act (“INPPA”) of Korea. INPPA sets out the minimum procedural requirements for lawful online transmissions in Korea whereby transmissions of advertised materials against recipients’ refusal to accept are strictly prohibited. Although these rules are applicable to unsolicited commercial e-mails via the internet, they were intended to apply to all modes of telecommunication such as cellular phones, facsimiles, etc.

The Korean government has made continuing efforts since 1999 to curb the increase in spam mail and has since been monitoring the effectiveness of the implementation of additional provisions. The new law targets senders of spam mail that are commercial in nature. Consistent with its effort to protect minors from being exposed to obscene and violent materials online, the Korean government has also included a provision in the INPPA that requires senders to label those materials as such.

More information can be found here

Thursday, 15 February 2007 17:58:13 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Ross Anderson and Tyler Moore have published their survey paper on "The Economics of Information Security: A Survey and Open Questions".

Read the full version of the paper, and the shorter version of the paper, which appeared in Science Magazine.

Their presentation at The Economics of the Software and Internet Industries conference in Toulouse, France, 19-20 January 2007, can be found here.

Tuesday, 13 February 2007 10:25:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 08 February 2007

According to Mark Hall, the Director of the U.S. Defense Department's International Information Assurance Program and co-chair of the National Cyber Response Coordination Group (NCRCG), DOD is about to sign an agreement to share incident and threat information with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT).  NCRCG is the U.S. federal government's incident response coordinator.  It works to defend U.S. cyberspace by providing guidance to federal agencies and working the private sector, state governments, and other countries.  Currently, there are 26 NATO countries and Hall feels that it will be much easier for him to work with NATO rather than each of the countries bilaterally.  Hall was also recently a participant in a panel at RSA Conference 2007 that discussed "Protecting U.S. Cyberspace:  Coordinating National Response to Cyber Attacks." 

For the full article, please go here.

Thursday, 08 February 2007 16:40:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 06 February 2007

The Chairman’s Report (Version for Comments) from the ITU New Initiatives Programme workshop on The Future of Voice, held January 15-16, 2007 in the ITU Headquarter, has been made available for comments on the event's web-page.

To download the document, please click here

All comments and remarks, to be reflected in the final version of the Chairman’s Report should be sent via email to no later than the 19th February 2007.


Tuesday, 06 February 2007 17:27:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Standards that will ease the wide spread rollout of video over IP networks took a step forward in January. IPTV architecture and requirements, two fundamentally important areas in standards work were progressed at a recent meeting of the ITU-T Focus Group on IPTV (FG IPTV). There was general consensus in the meeting that FG IPTV will successfully develop documents which will accelerate introduction of IPTV to the global market. Setting the architecture and requirements in stone allows the rest of the work to continue with greater ease.

Meeting at the Microsoft conference center, Mountain View California, at the invitation of the Alliance for Telecom Industry Standards (ATIS) the group saw a record number of contributions and experts worked often late to keep up with the workload. Nearly 90 documents were dealt with in the fields of architecture and requirements alone. Malcolm Johnson, newly elected Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau said in a message he sent to the event: "The excellent cooperation between ITU-T and ATIS is an example of the spirit of cooperation that I believe now pervades in the standards world... From what I have seen there is a great deal to be satisfied by in terms of the progress that FG IPTV has achieved so far."

In opening comments, ATIS President & CEO Susan Miller shared with the 200 meeting attendees that IPTV is serving as a ''change agent" for the industry, and "as both the business case and principal driver for accelerating deployment of the next generation network. "Miller noted that for North American service providers in particular, "IPTV is a critical ingredient to bundled service offerings that encompass television services, mobile services, Internet access, and much more. We have seen in the last decade, enormous investments in broadband, and fiber deployments to the home and to the premise," said Miller. Also important a document outlining terms and definitions in the field was created.

While seemingly mundane this work is crucially important in ensuring consistency of comprehension in an area where many standards outlining different aspects of IPTV will co-exist. Further discussion is expected on whether and how to treat the issue of redistribution of content to a point past an IPTV terminal device, and, in particular, how content protection and content management functions can or should apply in a home network environment. Other issues examined and progressed were accessibility issues for people with disabilities, AV codecs and content format requirements. Output and other documents can be found here.
See also the ITU-T newslog for further information. 

The next meeting of FG IPTV will be held from 7 to 11 May 2007 in Bled, Slovenia.

Tuesday, 06 February 2007 10:01:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Almost 40 countries will participate in the fourth edition of Safer Internet Day (SID) which this year takes place on 6 February.

The event is organised by European Schoolnet, coordinator of Insafe, the European safer internet network. Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for the Information Society and Media is once again patron of Safer Internet Day, as in the past two years.

The highlight of the day will once again be a worldwide blogathon, which will reach Australia on 6th February and progress westward through the day to finish up in the USA and Canada. Following the huge success encountered in 2006, this year’s blogathon goes one step further to include the voices of hundreds of youngsters.

In the framework of a competition launched in October 2006, more than 200 schools in 25 countries across the globe have been working in pairs, using technology to cross geographical borders, to create internet safety awareness material on one of three themes: e-privacy, netiquette, and power of image. On Safer Internet Day, all of the projects they have produced will be uploaded to the blogathon. The 4 prize-winning teams in the competition will be announced on 6 February when the blogathon opens to well over 100 organisations waiting on the starting block to add their postings on this year’s theme, Crossing borders.

To find out more about young people’s use of the internet and mobile phones, Insafe has been collecting data over the past two months through an online survey. Preliminary results will be made available on Safer Internet Day along with a wealth of other information tailored to the needs of not only media but also parents, teachers and youngsters in an online media room specially set up at to mark the event.

On Safer Internet Day in the Netherlands, HRH Princess Maxima will be the special guest at an event featuring theatre, music and stories. In Slovenia, young people will showcase art projects and Slovenian national television will broadcast internet safety clips.

Across the globe, hundreds of other events will highlight the growing importance of internet safety in the lives of us all.
For further information see the following links:

National nodes of Insafe
Safer Internet Day Blogathon
Safer Internet Programme
eTwinning (partner in the Safer Internet Day competition for schools)

Tuesday, 06 February 2007 09:43:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In today's interconnected world of networks, threats can now originate anywhere − our collective cybersecurity depends on the security practices of every connected country, business, and citizen. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialized agency within the United Nations system, would like to draw Safer Internet Day participants' interest to a number of information resources dedicated to cybersecurity and spam.

The ITU Cybersecurity Gateway is an easy-to-use online information resource on national and international cybersecurity related initiatives worldwide. A vast number of resources and links are available and organizations are invited to join in partnership with the ITU and other stakeholders to build confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

The StopSpamAlliance is a joint initiative to gather information and resources on combating spam. This initiative was undertaken by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the EU's Contact Network of Spam Authorities (CNSA), International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the London Action Plan, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Seoul-Melbourne Anti-Spam group. The website contains an overview about each of these organization’s activities in countering spam and related threats.

The outcome documents from the two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) emphasize that building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is a necessary pillar for building a global information society. ITU has been asked to play the main facilitator role for to assist stakeholders in building confidence and security in the use of ICTs. To stress the importance of the multi-stakeholder implementation of this task, ITU has named this the Partnerships for Global Cybersecurity (PGC) initiative.

In commenting on the Safer Internet initiative, newly elected ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Toure stressed the need for greater cooperation between regulators, government, security firms, communication service providers, and end users in dealing with the challenges to building a safe and secure information society.

The International Telecommunication Union wishes you all a very successful Safer Internet Day 2007!

Enquiries related to ITU activities in the area of cybersecurity can be directed to


About ITU

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is an international organization (specialized agency) within the United Nations System where governments and the private sector coordinate global telecommunication networks and services. Through its standards, development, and policy research activities, ITU has a long-standing track record in security for information and communication systems. There are currently more than seventy ITU recommendations focusing on security.

Tuesday, 06 February 2007 09:24:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 04 February 2007

Under the "Shaping Tomorrow's Networks Project" and in line with the stated objectives of the WSIS Tunis Agenda for the Information Society (November 2005), that “… ITU and other regional organisations should take steps to ensure rational, efficient and economic use of, and equitable access to, the radio-frequency spectrum by all countries ….”, ITU and the Ugo Bordoni Foundation (Italy) jointly organized a workshop to identify global trends and good practice in radio spectrum management.

The Workshop on "Market Mechanisms for Spectrum Management" was held from 22 to 23 January 2007 at ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland.  

In preparation for the workshop a Background Resources Website on Spectrum Management was created. This website aims to provide a number of background resources on regional and national initiatives as well as some background information on spectrum management policy and regulation in general.

Background papers as well as Contributions to the workshop can be found here.

To download the Speaker's Presentations, please click here.

Link to Workshop Webcast Archives is available here.

More information about the Shaping Tomorrow’s Networks Project can be found here.

More information about the workshop can be found here.

See the full ITU Press Release for the event here.

We would like to inform all workshop participants that the Chairman's Report will be made available at the event website in the next few weeks.

Sunday, 04 February 2007 20:52:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 02 February 2007

According to a recent article in The Register, two young Dutch hackers who built a large botnet were sentenced to prison earlier this week. The main suspect, now 20, was handed a two-year sentence and a €9,000 f($11,800) fine, while his 28-year-old partner was given 18 months and ordered to pay €4,000 0 ($5,200).

As stated by the article, the men, part of a larger hacking ring, and one other suspect, were arrested in 2005 for extorting a US company, stealing identities to purchase cameras and games consoles, and distribute spyware. The operation netted an estimated €60,000 over a period of six months.

Read the full The Register article here.

Friday, 02 February 2007 14:52:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
Friday, 02 February 2007 13:13:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 31 January 2007

5-6 April 2007 The Russian Association for Networks and Services (RANS) will hold its sixth international security conference entitled Security and Trust for Infocommunication Networks and Services on 5-6 of April 2007 at the Moscow Marriott Grand Hotel. One of the topics to be considered on the agenda in a grand plenary session will be WSIS Action Line C5 with the participation of Houlin Zhao, ITU Deputy Secretary-General.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007 14:24:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

14-15 May 2007 The ITU has a new Secretary-General, Dr. Hamadoun Toure, who has indicated in his first public statements and to senior ITU staff that he considers cybersecurity and particularly follow-up to WSIS Action Line C5 to be a key strategic area of focus for future ITU activities.

The next annual facilitation/consultation meeting for WSIS Action Line C5 will be held 14-15 May 2007 at ITU in Geneva in conjunction with a cluster of events to be organized around 17 May (World Telecommunication and Information Society Day).  The meeting is open to all participants with an interest in C5 activities. More details concerning the draft agenda and administrative arrangements for the event will be circulated shortly along with a list of other WSIS-related meetings to be held 14-25 May 2005 in Geneva.

Further information will be posted at the WSIS C5: Partnerships for Global Cybersecurity website. Enquiries can be directed to

Wednesday, 31 January 2007 13:13:26 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

IDG Sweden has published an interview between a journalist from Computer Sweden Magazine and a person claiming he is the creator of the Haxdoor Trojan, a program used for bank fishing and responsible for the recent phish of an Australian bank as well as the recent phish of Nordea bank.  The interview was done over ICQ.  With the assistance of someone from Symantec, the interviewer reached the interviewee, who uses the screen name Corpse, by pretending to be interested in buying a handcrafted version of the program for the phish of a particular bank. 

In the interview, Corpse indicates that he is clearly aware that his program is used for bank fraud and offers to sell Haxdoor, including support by him, to the journalist for $3000.  In their discussion about attacks that have been perpetrated by Haxdoor, Corpse states that security staff at banks try to hide 99% of the actual attacks in an attempt to prevent their customers from being frightened.  However, Corpse will not discuss previous customers or the person(s) who may have been behind some of the attacks by Haxdoor that have become public.  When the journalist expresses concern about being caught, Corpse offers to make the attack untraceable by providing the journalist with servers in China, the United States, or Europe for $150 per month.  Corpse also makes that claim that versions of Haxdoor exist with the ability to hide in the operating system, and therefore, cannot be detected by anti-virus programs.  He goes on the talk about the features of Haxdoor, which include a graphical interface allowing attacks to be tailored, rootkit and self-defense functions, support for all versions of Windows from 98 to Vista, and delivery as a rar or zip archive.

For a full version of the interview (in Swedish), please click here.

Wednesday, 31 January 2007 11:05:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Last week, the Anti-Spyware Coalition released its guides on best practices and conflict resolution. The best practices guide is based on a set of software definitions and the risk-model description created by the Coalition.  It is intended to provide insight into the way security firms identify applications, flag behavior, and then distinguish between "unwanted" software and software that provides "real value to users."  Included is the "clearest description" that the Coalition has issued of the methodology used by anti-spyware companies in determining what software is "unwanted."  The conflict resolution guide addresses the topics of competing anti-spyware software on a system and helping consumers understand the problems that may result in their security applications.

For links to the Anti-Spyware Coalition guides and supporting documentation, please click here.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007 14:05:15 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 29 January 2007

The European Parliament held an STOA Workshop on "RFID in the everyday life of Europeans: A citizen's perspective on ambient intelligence" on 24 January 2007. The workshop was organized as part of the project "RFID and identity management: Case Studies from the frontline of the development towards ambient intelligence" commissioned by the Scientific Technology Options Assessment (STOA) Panel of the European Parliament, and carried out by the European Technology Assessment Group.

ITU's Lara Srivastava delivered a presentation on the topic "Is our enviroment getting smarter? Are we". Her presentation is available here

Monday, 29 January 2007 21:57:50 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Under the umbrella of the Millennium Development Goal to reduce poverty and the plan of action of the World Summit on the Information Society, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the International Trade Centre (ITC - UNCTAD/WTO) combined their respective strengths in order to raise awareness on the potential of using mobile phones for business applications in developing countries.

ITC and ITU, based on a request from Burkina Faso, conducted a m-business potential assessment in this country. The study revealed the need of small and medium enterprises in exportation to obtain real-time market information.

For more information on the so-called "Trade at hand" initiative, click here.

Monday, 29 January 2007 13:51:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 24 January 2007

The Clean Slate Design for the Internet is an interdisciplinary research program at Stanford University. The founders of this program believe that the current Internet has significant deficiencies which must be resolved before the Internet can become a unified global communication infrastructure. They feel that to solve these deficiencies, focus must be placed on bold, unconventional, and long-term research that tries to break down the network's ossification. 

They characterize the program with two questions: (1)  Given current knowledge, if we were to start over with a clean slate, how would we design a global communications infrastructure? and (2) How should the Internet look in 15 years? The program will be driven from the ground up, by research projects with the intention of creating a "loosely-coupled breeding ground for new ideas."  The program's goal is to be flexible and to create the structure and identify and focus funds to support the best research in clean slate design.  The program will also collaborate with and receive funds from approximately seven industrial partners with interests in networking services, equipment, semiconductors, and applications.

See more background information on the program here.
See the white paper describing the program structure and key areas of research here.
For a presentation describing the program, click here.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 11:44:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A short video providing an introduction to the work of ITU-T's Study Group 9 and the events surrounding the meeting was made by Mayumi Matsumoto, Rapporteur for Q.5/9, at the last meeting of the group, held 2 - 6 October, 2006 in Tokyo.  The video contains a demonstration of technologies for emerging broadband services in the home and interviews with some of the exhibitors.

The link to the video can be found here.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007 11:16:09 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The North American Consumer Project on Electronic Commerce (NACPEC) has created a section on its website that provides visitors with relevant and up to date information on spam and phishing.

Although there is no international consensus on the definition of spam, spam has evolved from a minor nuisance to a problem, which is often criminal and fraudulent, for users and computer networks. In addition to the fact that most spam advertises goods or services that are of questionable quality or that contain deceptive or misleading offers, spam is a channel for the propagation of viruses and spyware as well as a way to perpetrate other criminal activities through phishing and pharming techniques.  It is a threat to the use and functioning of corporate, public, and academic networks; assists cybercrime; threatens consumer confidence; and undermines the use of email. 

Since 2000, the amount of spam circulated has more than doubled, reaching somewhere between 58% to 85% of all email.  Spam is the cause for significant economic costs and losses in productivity for service providers, businesses, civil society, academic institutions, and especially consumers.  During the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) thematic meeting on spam in July 2004, the Chairman reported that spam costs the global economy approximately US$ 10 billion per year, and the European Commission has estimated that spam costs users EUR 10 billion per year. Spam is now no longer only a problem for computer networks, it is also becoming an issue in mobile phones, instant messaging services, weblogs, and wireless networks. Currently, there is no one solution to the problem of spam.  It is a complex, cross-border issue requires the adoption of a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder approach as recommended by the Anti-Spam Toolkit for the OECD.  To curb spam, a combination of solutions will be required.

More information can be found here.


Wednesday, 24 January 2007 10:10:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 23 January 2007

As one the series of Google TechTalks, Van Jacobson presents his talk entitled "A New Way to Look at Networking."

Jacobson's motivation for giving this talk is his feeling that in the last decade network research in the United States has been at a dead end. Despite technological advances, everything with networking is becoming more difficult. People are spread out over multiple devices, wireless barely works, and the solutions that are being presented solve the small problems but do not deal with the larger cause.  In the current situation, Jacobson feels the Internet is not a bad solution but the problem has changed. We are on the verge of a Copernican revolution. A good analogy to this situation is the one faced in the 1960s and 1970s when efforts were being made to use the telephony system to move data.

The traditional telephony system was not about calls, it was about wires. To have a successful business model, a ubiquitous wire system was necessary. Jacobson provides an explanation of the system, how it works, and the issues that arose over ownership of the network. One characteristic of the network was its unreliability. Every piece had to work all the time. Because of this the network was designed to have reliable elements instead of being reliable as a whole. 

The current issue is in order to have access to information, the device used must be connected to the Internet or the user will be cut off. This can be difficult because the device must have a topologically stable address. Also, the Internet does not like things that move or broadcast; it was not designed for this.  How the network is being used has changed. We are not longer in a conversation model. A conversation model cannot be transformed into a viable security model. Instead, Jacobson promotes a dissemination model by discussing the work that is being done with this framework including ways of transferring and storing information and their advantages.

Jacobson feels that the continued reliance on the conversation model has evolved the situation to the point where the user must now do the low level connection plumbing to get what he/she wants.  If we change our view to the dissemination model, the network does the plumbing. 

The full talk can be found here.


Tuesday, 23 January 2007 16:23:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

In his article "Trench Warfare in the Age of the Laser-guided Missile," Neil Schwartzman gives a brief description of the history of spam and the anti-spam movement, provides a summary of the current state of spam, and makes a series of recommendations concerning what actions the anti-spam community should take.

History of Spam and the Anti-Spam Movement:  According to Schwartzman, both spam and the anti-spam movement have steadily evolved since 1995.  The anti-spam movement has seen the rise of government groups, NGOs, and industry coalitions as well as anti-virus and spyware technologists and companies working individually to stop spam.  Spam, however, has stayed ahead of the anti-spam movement, becoming more and more sophisticated in its ability avoid filters, collaborate with viruses, and reach users. 

The Current State of Spam:  Schwartzman sums up the current situation as a "blended criminal threat."  He examines penny stocks, promoted using 'image-only' payloads.  Stock spamming leaves paper trails and this led to some successful prosecutions at the end of 2006.  He reaches the conclusion that although currently popular, stock spamming will decline as prosecutions increase.   He also looks at phishing, which he feels is far more serious than stock spamming, because  "personal information is the currency used by criminals on the net."

Consumer Confidence & Organized Crime:  Although online commerce continues to grow, user confidence is e-commerce is decreasing as the number of threats from spam increase.  Recent studies show that up to 90% of polled consumers are deeply skeptical about their ability to conduct business safely online.  Schwartzman feels that as more users become victims or personally know victims of online fraud, they will cease their online purchasing and return to traditional retail outlet purchasing.  One major concern is the possible failure of a major online financial service, which would certainly speed up users return to traditional retail and cause massive damage to the reputations of all online service providers.  There is also additional concern as there is now "full integration with the bad-guy technologists and sophisticated groups of computer-aware criminals."  The large amount of money that can be made from spam has now attracted organized crime including the Russian mob, the Italian mafia, the Hell's Angels, and the Columbian drug cartels.

The Future:  At the inbox level, anti-spam technologies are very effective at blocking spam; however, the resource cost is becoming an issue as "major receiving sites have said privately that their systems are all but overwhelmed by the new levels of spam."  The latest spam/malware threat is known as SpamThru.  Although not yet being used to its full capacity, it caused an 80% increase of spam on some sites in the last three months of 2006.  It also has the capability of avoiding complete deletion by removal programs.  Other technologies which are also popular right now are 'Queen bots', which are capable of changing profiles and controlling subservient zombie computers, and 'fast-flux dns', which is a DNS server hosted on an infected machine that resolves human-recognizable URLs to a multitude of similarly infected machines.  If spam continues to increase, and there are several ways it can, the result could be the end of e-mail or the Internet itself or virtual attacks on the real world (several of which have already been realized),  

What Should Be Done:  According to Schwartzman, the anti-spam movement is losing.  This can be mostly attributed to the fact that the movement is disjointed and disorganized.  Companies often have various groups dealing with different aspects of spam and malware who never communicate or coordinate.  This is also seen in the interaction of the various anti-spam groups organized within the industry.  Schwartzman believes that active participation and cooperation by all stakeholders is necessary to successfully fight spam and he makes a series of suggestion as to how this can be achieved.

See the complete article here

Tuesday, 23 January 2007 12:00:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |