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 Friday, 07 September 2007

On early May this year following the controversial uprooting of the 6-foot-tall bronze statue in downtown Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, the nation faced a series of massive botnet attacks. Estonian government, banking, media, and police sites were flooded by overwhelming internet traffic from all over the world which led to DDoS attacks forcing the sites to shut down and remain inaccessible outside the country for extended periods of time. In mid-May, the major botnet attacks suddenly stopped, and the bots appeared to have been set to run for exactly two weeks after which the infected computers abandoned the attacks and reverted to more traditional botnet activities, like spamming and extortion.

This recent attack on Estonia has proven the power of botnets and it DDoS capabilities. Using rented botnets, hundreds of thousands or even millions of infobombs may be launched at a target, all while maintaining total deniability to bring down a country's information infrastructure.

For more details on the botnet attack against Estonia, read full article here.
An article on how bots attack may also be accessed here.

Friday, 07 September 2007 10:25:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 06 September 2007

Following the devastating earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale that struck Southern Peru on 15 August 2007, killing more than 500 people and injuring as well as displacing thousands more, ITU deployed 50 satellite terminals to help restore vital communication links in remote and underserved areas. These links are critical in coordinating rescue and relief operations.

According to Ms Cayetana Aljovin, Vice-Minister for Communications of Peru, the equipment is being deployed in areas where telecommunications are not available. But these are most needed to facilitate emergency teams as well as government organizations in establishing communications to coordinate their work. "We take very seriously the role of telecommunications in mitigating disasters," said Mr Sami Al Basheer Al Morshid, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. "Whenever a country is affected by a disaster, we quickly mobilize and dispatch transportable telecommunications resources that can be used for general communications by government authorities and to provide e-services such as telemedicine that are crucial for saving human lives. We hope that this contribution will go a long way towards helping Peru cope with this massive earthquake".

Emergency telecommunication is the key for government and humanitarian aid agencies involved in rescue operations, medical assistance and rehabilitation. Mountainous terrain in Peru has severely hampered access and the coordination of rescue operations. The restoration of telecommunication resources have helped bridge these gaps and provided the much needed link for the transmission and reception of high speed data for e-applications and for voice communications. This has provided succour to both government authorities and relief agencies as well as to the affected population.

ITU has been responsible for transporting and deploying all the terminals as well as paying for the air time for using them.

Twelve of the terminals are Global Area Network (GAN) terminals and 38 are regional broadband global network satellite terminals (RBGAN). The 12 GAN terminals are capable of providing voice, data and video services, and the 38 RBGAN terminals provide high-speed data communications.

For further information, please visit Emergency Telecommunications or contact Sanjay Acharya, Chief of Media Relations and Public Information, | ITU | Tel: +41 22 730 6135 | e-mail: pressinfo (ad) | Cosmas Zavazava, Head of Division Emergency Telecommunications,| ITU | Tel: + 41 22 730 5447 | e-mail: cosmas.zavazava (ad) | Roberto Bastidas-Buch, ITU Area Office Tegucigalpa | Tel: +504 220 1074 | e-mail: roberto.bastidas (ad)

For ITU press releases, please click here.

Thursday, 06 September 2007 14:12:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 05 September 2007

Eric Bangeman of Ars Technica reports on the growing power of PSP on the internet today. According to a new survey from ipoque, a German traffic management and analysis firm, P2P traffic is dominating the Internet these days with ipoque's "preliminary results" showing that P2P applications account from anywhere between 50 percent and 90 percent of all Internet traffic. The final survey results are not yet available and will presented at the Emerging Technology Conference at MIT later this month.

During the last year, BitTorrent accounted for between 50 percent to 75 percent of all P2P traffic, with eDonkey coming in second at between 5 percent and 50 percent. ipoque's data appears at odds with that of Ellacoya Networks, a company that makes deep packet inspection gear. The company said in June that P2P traffic accounts for just 37 percent of North American traffic, compared with 46 percent for HTTP traffic. Of that 46 percent, over a third consisted of streaming video, à la YouTube.

Despite the differences in how the traffic is broken out, ipoque and Ellacoya's data both illustrate much of the P2P traffic reported by both firms is video. With the surge in traffic of YouTube and other video sites, as well as the official upcoming launch of Joost, demand for high-bandwidth applications like video is definitely increasing. This has resulted to ISPs' interest in deep packet inspection and other traffic-shaping tools.

Read full article here.

Wednesday, 05 September 2007 14:55:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

APCAUCE's 2007 meeting was held on 02 September 2007 in conjunction with the 24th APNIC Open Policy Meeting and SANOG 10, in New Delhi, India. The meeting agenda and presentations are now available and may be accessed here. An Overview of the ITU Development Sector Activities on Cybersecurity was presented by Robert Shaw, Head, ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division, ITU Telecommunication Development Sector is available on the meeting site.

Wednesday, 05 September 2007 14:32:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Security firm Sunbelt recently discovered that the Bank of India's hacked website was serving dangerous malware, and the infamous Russian Business Network, an ISP linked to child pornography and phishing, is behind the attack. The service provider in question has developed a notorious reputation. According to VeriSign threat intelligence analyst Kimberly Zenz, the Russian Business Network (RBN) is different to other service providers because "unlike many ISPs that host predominately legitimate items, RBN is entirely illegal. A scan of RBN and affiliated ISPs' net space conducted by VeriSign iDefense analysts failed to locate any legitimate activity. Instead, [our] research identified phishing, malicious code, botnet command-and-control, denial-of-service attacks and child pornography on every single server owned and operated by RBN."

Patrik Runald, senior security specialist at F-Secure, said: "No one knows who the RBN is. They are a secret group based out of St Petersburg that appears to have political connections. The company doesn't legitimately exist. It's not registered and provides hosting for everything that's bad. Their network infrastructure is behind a lot of the bad stuff we're seeing and it has connections to the MPack Group [a well-known group of cybercriminals which used MPack software to steal confidential data]." Runald said that, in the case of the Bank of India's hacked website, RBN used an Iframe to launch another window which then pushed victims to a webpage containing malicious code. The Trojans used in this case were designed to steal passwords from PCs and upload Trojan proxies in aide of developing a botnet.

Read the full article on

Wednesday, 05 September 2007 11:28:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

BBC News reports that easy to use tools that automate attacks on computers are being produced by malicious hackers, according to security experts, ranging from individual viruses to comprehensive kits that let budding cyber thieves craft their own attacks. The top hacking tools may cost up to £500, with some providing 12 months of technical support. Tim Eades from security company Sana said that malicious hackers had evolved over the last few years and were now selling the tools they used to use to the growing numbers of cyber thieves. Individual malicious programs cost up to £17 (25 euros), he said. At the top end of the scale, said Mr Eades, were tools like the notorious MPack which costs up to £500. The regular updates for the software ensure it uses the latest vulnerabilities to help criminals hijack PCs via booby-trapped webpages. It also includes a statistical package that lets owners know how successful their attack has been and where victims are based. MPack has been very popular among criminally minded groups and in late June 2007 managed to subvert more than 10,000 websites in one attack that drew on the tool.

Paul Henry, vice president of Secure Computing, said there were more than 68,000 downloadable hacking tools in circulation. The majority were free to use and took some skill to operate but a growing number were offered for sale to those without the technical knowledge to run their own attacks such as Mpack, Shark 2, Nuclear, WebAttacker, and IcePack. Mr Henry said the tools were proving useful because so many vulnerabilities were being discovered and were taking so long to be patched. Many hacking groups were attracted to selling the kits because it meant they took little risk themselves if the malicious software was used to commit crimes. "The only thing you are going to find is a disclaimer that this was distributed for educational purposes and the user accepts any responsibility for any misuse," he said.

To read full article, click here.

Wednesday, 05 September 2007 11:12:11 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 04 September 2007

World Information and Communications Development Trends, a presentation by Robert Shaw, head of the ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division, ITU Telecommunication Development Sector, is now available. It was presented to the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) in Hanoi, Viet Nam on 27 August 2007 discussing issues related to transition to new technologies and Next Generation Networks (NGN). For more relevant information, visit the CYB website.

Tuesday, 04 September 2007 13:20:31 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 03 September 2007

The United States District Court of Washington ruled in favor of Kaspersky Lab, a leading developer of secure content management solutions, granting immunity from liability in the case brought by online media company Zango. According to Zango's lawsuit, Kaspersky Lab should reclassify Zango’s programs as nonthreatening and Kaspersky Labs’s security software should stop blocking Zango’s potentially undesirable programs. "Judge Coughenour of the Western District of Washington threw out Zango’s lawsuit on the grounds that Kaspersky was immune from liability under the Communications Decency Act. The ruling protects consumer choice to determine what information and software is allowed on each computing system, and enables anti-malware vendors with the right to identify and label software programs that may be potentially unwanted and harmful to a user’s computer as they see fit."

Read full article here.

Monday, 03 September 2007 09:46:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 30 August 2007

Vanguard Media reported today on planned subsidies for telecom operators to erect base transceivers stations in Nigeria with the support of the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).

The Fund would receive parts of the annual operating levy that all operators pay to the Nigerian Communications Commission. Finally, subsidies would allow telecom operators to expand their services to isolated and under-served areas, which would enable rural communities to have access to the information society through internet and telephone.

Click here, to read more.

Thursday, 30 August 2007 16:55:22 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Internet bandwidth could become a global currency under a proposed model for the future of e-commerce that exploits a novel peer-to-peer video sharing application designed by a trans-Atlantic team of computer scientists according to an article by Vidura Panditaratne on Wednesday, 29 August 2007. This application is being used by researchers from Delft University of Technology and Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam and Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to explore a next-generation model for safe and legal electronic commerce that uses Internet bandwidth as a global currency. An enhanced version of this application called Tribler is now available for free download online.

A version of the Tribler video sharing software serves as a model for an e-commerce system because of its flexibility, speed, and reliability. The researchers envision this model to connect users to a single global market, without any controlling company, network, or bank with bandwidth as the first true Internet "currency" for such a market. "By studying user behavior within an operational 'Internet currency' system, with a particular focus on understanding how and why attacks, fraud, and abuse occur and how trust can be established and maintained, the researchers imagine future improvements to everything from on-demand television to online auctions to open content encyclopedias."

Read more by accessing the full article.

Thursday, 30 August 2007 09:42:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The VietNamNet Bridge yesterday published an interview with the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam. According to the Deputy Minister, developing e-government would support the government to operate more effectively, more transparently and to better serve citizens.

Planned activities based on experiences in Vietnam and other countries would aim to integrate ICT applications into public administration agencies by 2010. Doing so would require digitalizing administrative systems and procedures, and providing ICT training. To overcome the reluctance to change, the programme would seek the support and involvement of civil society, private industry and local and regional administrations.

To read more, click here.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007 17:57:38 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Pakistan's Minister for Information Technology Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari said on Thursday that the adoption of cyber crime bill by the federal cabinet was a major step towards ensuring a secure business environment and promotion of e-commerce. He said the e-crime bill which will be tabled in the parliament very soon, would help draw more business and improve Pakistan's e-readiness ranking as reflected in indices maintained by various agencies and business journals of the world.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has been given the mandate to probe cases falling under the preview of the e-crime law. He said the e-crime law would require the internet companies maintain their traffic data for at least six months to enable the agencies to investigate cases involving data stored by them. He also added that the government would create special IT tribunals in Islamabad as well as provincial headquarters to investigate and check growing incidents of crimes which remained unpunished for a lack of specific law.

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2007 poses penalties ranging from six months to 10 years of punishment for 17 types of cyber crimes, including cyber terrorism, hacking of websites and criminal access to secure data. Thirteen of the crimes listed under the law are bailable.

Read full article here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 10:47:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

GigaOM, on an article by Om Malik, "All Hail SMS," discusses the growing popularity of Short Message Service (SMS), aka text messaging, despite rumors of its pending demise. The technology's relative simplicity and ease of use, despite the high tariffs imposed by carriers around the world, makes SMS usage more and more popular. According to Paul Ruppert, a veteran of mobile business and now a consultant, every year, 2.1 billion global mobile users send 3 trillion SMS messages. Even in markets like the U.S., which lagged in embracing the ease and power of texting and seemingly preferred email and Instant Messaging, text messaging has become an intimate aspect of daily lives, especially for those 15 to 25. Commonly used communications applications embedding direct-to-SMS functionality, such as the new Yahoo Mail, which comes with free text messaging to mobile phone numbers (available in the U.S., Canada, India and the Philippines), have also become apparent nowadays.

Om Malik also writes that "some (mostly entrepreneurs and venture capitalists) believe that like email, SMS is the vehicle for add-on-innovation. There are gaming companies that have turned SMS-based voting into a big business. Voice SMS is being talked about as the next big thing."

To read the full artcile, click here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 09:34:42 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ICANN finalized on 23 August 2007 the IDN .test Evaluation Plan and is currently moving forward towards the insertion of IDN strings in the root zone. These IDN TLDs are the word "test" translated into eleven languages including: Arabic, Persian, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Russian, Hindi, Greek, Korean, Yiddish, Japanese and Tamil. The delegation of these TLDs and the evaluations, as described in the plan, is expected to commence in September 2007.

The plan has been modified based on comments received on the IDN public forum and also from consultations with ICANN Technical Advisory Committees. The last version was approved by the ICANN Board at their 14 August 2007 meeting, and the resolution directs ICANN Staff to implement the IDN .test Evaluation Plan, and report back to the ICANN Board following the conclusion of the evaluation.

Keep updated on the progress of this project by visiting

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007 08:34:10 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 23 August 2007

The World Health Organization launched its annual leading publication focusing on building a safer future in public health. The World Health Report 2007 shows how and why the world is at increasing risk of outbreaks of communicable diseases across borders, natural and man-made disasters and other health emergencies that can rapidly become threats to global public health security.

Information and communication technologies used in surveillance, monitoring and response networks are mentioned as tools to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases. The report says that the prospect of a safer future would be within reach - and that this would be both a collective aspiration and a mutual responsibility.

To read more, click here.

Thursday, 23 August 2007 17:27:46 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 22 August 2007

The FBI has chosen the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to host a new law enforcement cybersecurity research center. The bureau said it would provide $3 million to support the first two years' operation of the National Center for Digital Intrusion Response.

The bureau said the state university's IT security scholars would work with FBI cybersecurity specialists to understand what new capabilities are required to better detect and investigate cyberattacks, develop new tools and ensure that FBI agents in the field can use them effectively. The bureau's expansion of its work with the university team reflects changes in the patterns of crime and national security threats, the FBI said. "While cyberattacks were once considered a specialized niche in law enforcement, today there are digital aspects to many crimes and national security threats; all investigators must be able to pursue criminals operating in cyberspace," the FBI said. "NCDIR will provide training, including intensive summer workshops, so all FBI agents have the opportunity to use these new tools in the field."

Some of the projects and IT security tools developed by NCSA through the funding of the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies include MyProxy, a tool for grid credential management; Framework for Log Anonymization and Information Management, an app that facilitates sharing of log data among secure systems; GridShib, at tool that supports identity federation for grids; Trustworthy Cyberinfrastructure for the Power Grid; and Illinois Terrorism Task Force's First Responder's Credentialing.

Read the full article at Government Computer News (GCN).

Wednesday, 22 August 2007 17:01:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Australia announced a national strategy on deploying health records available over the internet to every citizen, as The Canberra Times reported yesterday. Patients would be able to securely access their medical claims and rebates over public networks as of 2008. Later on, patients would have online access to their pharmaceutical benefits schemes claims. Eventually, Australians would have access to their individual digital files, which would be automatically updated by health service providers.

A parallel initiative is focusing on ensuring effective follow-up medical care for indigenous children in remote areas. Depending on the patient’s or their parents’ authorization, health professionals would be able to access their digital records to support ongoing care.

(The full article "Aust health histories to be accessible on internet" by Danielle Cronin health reporter, Canberra Times, 21 August 2007, is not available freely online.)

Wednesday, 22 August 2007 15:45:39 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

On 22 July 2007, the New York Times reported on Rwanda's current Internet connectivity situation. According to the article, in 2003, Greg Wyler, an American businessman, promised the Rwandan government fiber optic cables and connectivity among schools, government institutions and homes through low-cost, high-speed Internet service. His company, Terracom,was granted a contract to connect 300 schools to the Internet, and later, the company bought 99 percent of the shares in Rwandatel, the country’s national telecommunications company, for $20 million. However, after nearly four years, the government criticizes Terracom for not having delivered and materialized most of the benefits they have hailed.

The technical, political and business realities of Africa are said to have caused this slow progress of the venture. Apart from the failed and delayed attempts to bring affordable high-speed Internet service to the masses in the continent, the lack of infrastructure is also being blamed to be the biggest drawback. Some other difficulties mentioned were insufficient bandwidth capacity on satellites, poor management and intermittent power failures. Rwandan officials also say that the company seems more interested in tapping the more lucrative cellphone market than in being an Internet service provider.

With Terracom’s new chief executive, Christopher Lundh, a former executive of Gateway Communications in London, government officials say Terracom’s performance has improved. The government, meanwhile, is moving forward with its own plans to build a fiber optic network. It also has granted Internet service licenses to South African companies and plans to issue several more. A reduced price of Internet service to about $10 a month is also aimed for according to Nkubito Bakuramutsa, director general of the Rwanda Information Technology Authority.

To read the full article, click here.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007 13:28:47 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 21 August 2007

According to an analyst report, the internet is heading for a crash unless it increases its bandwidth capabilities. A study conducted by ABI Research claims that cable firms face the biggest challenge as their technology will reach saturation point first.

Stan Schatt, research director at ABI, told Ars Technica: "Uploading bandwidth is going to have to increase, and the cable providers are going to get killed on bandwidth as HD programming becomes more commonplace." He adds that the solution to the problem is to change to digital switching and move to IPTV.

Researchers from Cisco Systems seem to agree with this claim. Cisco found that American video websites currently transmit more data per month than the entire amount of traffic sent over the internet in 2000. The company estimates that file-sharing makes up at least one-third of today's internet traffic. The Cisco report predicted that video streaming and downloads will increase to make up to 30 percent consumer internet traffic in 2011, up from the 2006 figure of nine per cent.

With the release of the BBC's iPlayer online television service in the UK, bandwidth concerns with internet service providers increase even more. However, Orange reports that the internet overload does not appear to have started yet.

Continue reading the article here at

Tuesday, 21 August 2007 08:57:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 20 August 2007

Technicians and engineers from Telecoms sans Frontieres started deploying telecommunication centres in Peru to restore communications in the areas hit by the earthquakes last week, as the BBC reported. Well operating and reliable telecommunications are vital for coordinating emergency relief work and humanitarian assitance.  The technologies brought by the non-governmental organization include satellite telephones and internet modems, and equipment to set up wireless connectivity to the internet. More on BBC News

Monday, 20 August 2007 11:49:53 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

ITU, in collaboration with the Secretaría de Comunicaciones, Argentina, will be hosting a workshop 16-18 October 2007 entitled Regional Workshop on Frameworks for Cybersecurity and Critical Information Infrastructure Protection. The workshop will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The description of the event, draft agenda, invitation letter, and practical information for meeting participants will be made available on the event website.

Contact with any general queries you may have related to the workshop.

Monday, 20 August 2007 11:10:14 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 17 August 2007

The Russian government plans to introduce full-scale e-government services by 2010, as The Moscow Times reports. This would create a single point of entry to government services substantially reducing administrative costs and time to access information by citizens, public institutions and private organizations in the country.

To read more, click here.

Friday, 17 August 2007 14:43:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Researchers are warning universities that they're at risk of being hit with massive distributed denial-of-service attacks when they scan their own networks. According to Doug Pearson, technical director of Ren-Isac, the Storm botnet, a massive botnet that the hackers have been amassing over the last several months, has developed a counter-attack to computers that are trying to weed it out. The botnet is set up to launch a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against any computer that is scanning a network for vulnerabilities or malware.

Ren-Isac, which is supported largely through Indiana University, recently issued a warning to about 200 member educational institutions and then put out a much broader alert, warning colleges and universities that their networks could come under heavy attack. According to the alert, this new Storm botnet tactic presents more danger to schools than it is to corporate enterprises simply because of the placement of the scanners. Pearson explains that universities and colleges often have their scanners on a public network making it visible to the Internet at large. If it was protected on a private network, the way it's done with most enterprises, the botnet would not be able to find it so there wouldn't be an IP route to send the DDoS packets.

Don Jackson of SecureWorks said in an interview that slowly but surely IT managers and consumers are getting better at blocking or at least ignoring the e-mail attacks, so the Storm worm authors are setting up a secondary attack venue.

Read the full article at InformationWeek.

Friday, 17 August 2007 10:51:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 16 August 2007

Two Ethiopian hospitals have been linked with a specialist hospital in India, which allows doctors to obtain real-time second opinion over the internet, as BBC News reported on 16 July 2007.

The pilot project focusing on a hospital in Addis Ababa and on a provincial one located 300 km away from the capital would likely be followed-up by connecting a total of 20 more hospitals into the network. For the first five years, India will run the project free of charge.

The technical platform facilitates sharing of patients' data between healthcare professionals (such as X-rays, laboratory tests, etc.); health workers in remote areas have better access to medical expertise without moving over long and time-consuming distances.

In order to improve secondary education and access to medical expertise, 23 African countries are already in the loop for a similar project agreed between India and the African Union.

To read the full article, click here.

Thursday, 16 August 2007 14:13:02 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |