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 Wednesday, May 14, 2008

According to an article on The Citizen (Dar es Salaam) on 10 May 2008, toll-free mobile services are on its way to selected remote areas in Africa aiming to save lives by connecting people with emergency medical cases to health personnel. Under the initiative launched in Nairobi on Wednesday, health workers will also be trained through mobile phone sessions on day to day skills like collecting and sharing basic household health information.

Telecommunication equipment provider Ericsson and mobile phone service provider Zain have entered into a partnership that will ensure they provide network access, mobile phone handsets, sim cards and toll-free emergency numbers in remote areas in order to stimulate demand for cellular phone solutions in those areas. The initiative is being rolled out in Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. In Kenya, Ericsson and Zain subsidiary, Celtel, are rolling out a pilot programme in North Garissa in Dertu village targeting some 5,200 inhabitants.

According to the President of Ericsson, Mr Carl-Henri Svanberge, the partnership also includes the Earth Institute and will benefit 400,000 people in Africa. "The partnership will provide the development of a comprehensive voice to data coverage and a telecommunication strategy in the villages to drive up mobile connectivity," said Mr Svanberge. The phones will use solar charges which according to Ericsson are capable of charging 30 mobile phones a day.


Read the full article here.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008 9:04:08 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, May 07, 2008

McKinsey & Company, with its McKinsey & Company Report: Revolutionizing Data Center Efficiency, provides critical analyses, key findings, and recommendations on data center efficiency.

Some of the key points in the report include:

  • The rapid recent (and projected) growth in the number and size of Data centers creates two significant challenges for enterprises: 1.) Data center facilities spend (CapEx and OpEx) is a large, quickly growing and very inefficient portion of the total IT budget in many technology intensive industries such as financial services and telecommunications. Some intensive data center users will face meaningfully reduced profitability if current trends continue; 2.) For many industries, data centers are one of the largest sources of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. As a group, their overall emissions are significant, in-scale with industries such as airlines. Even with immediate efficiency improvements (and adoption of new technologies) enterprises and their equipment providers will face increased scrutiny given the projected quadrupling of their data-center GHG emissions by 2020.
  • The primary drivers of poor efficiency are poor demand and capacity planning within and across functions (business, IT, facilities), significant failings in asset management (6% average server utilization, 56% facility utilization), and boards, CEOs, and CFOs are not holding CIOs accountable for critical data center facilities CapEx and data center operational efficiency.
  • Improving efficiency is the best near term means to solving the twin challenges of rising spend and GHG emissions. The report proposes a three part solution to double IT energy efficiency by 2012 and to arrest the growth of GHG emissions from data centers: 1.) Rapidly mature and integrate asset management capabilities to reach the same par as the Security function; 2.) Mandate inclusion of true total cost of ownership (including data center facilities) in business case justification of new products and applications to throttle excess demand; and 3.) Formally move accountability for data center critical facilities expense and operations to the CIO and appoint internal “Energy Czars” with an operations and technology mandate to double IT energy efficiency by 2012.
  • To achieve this doubling of energy efficiency CIOs, equipment manufacturers, as well as industry groups in dialog with regulators should quickly establish automotive style “CAFE” metrics that will measure the individual and combined energy efficiency of corporate, public sector and 3rd party hosted data centers. The report proposes one metric that would deliver immediate financial and transparency benefits to executive management of enterprises and could become a government recognized measure of efficiency.

A related OECD meeting on ICT and the Environment will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark on 22-23 May 2008. A paper on Khazzoom-Brookes postulate and datacenters is also available online. This paper presents how Khazzoom-Brookes have demonstrated that improved efficiency actually results in increased energy consumption as it decreases the overall cost of a product or service and therefore increases demand.

Read more on the McKinsey report here.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 11:26:17 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, May 02, 2008

According to a press release of the European Commission, published on 25 April, a pan-European survey on electronic services in healthcare (eHealth) shows that 87% of European doctors (General Practitioners) use a computer, 48% with a broadband connection. The survey shows that there are considerable differences between the countries, with broadband penetration ranging from 93% in Finland to 5% in Romania. An increasing number of doctors in Europe store and send patients' data such as lab reports electronically.

In using such eHealth applications, doctors and medical services have already improved healthcare in Europe through, for instance, more efficient administration and shorter waiting times for patients. According to the report, a majority of European doctors agree that information and communication technologies (ICTs) improve the quality of healthcare services that they provide.

Doctors not using ICT mention a lack of training and technical support as major barriers. In order to increase the use of eHealth, they ask for more ICT in medical education, more training and better electronic networking among healthcare practitioners that are willing to share clinical information. The report also highlights where doctors could make better use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to offer services such as telemonitoring, electronic prescriptions and cross border medical services.

For more information, click here.

Friday, May 02, 2008 3:40:27 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, May 01, 2008

The 6th "Med-e-Tel Conference and Exhibition" took place on 16 -18 April 2008 in Luxembourg with about 450 participants from over 50 countries. Med-e-Tel focuses on eHealth and telemedicine applications and a wide range of other medical information and communication technology (ICT) applications and on the convergence of ICT with medical applications, which lead to higher quality of care, cost reductions, workflow efficiency, and widespread availability of healthcare services. Abstracts and presentations of annual events are soon available on the organizer's website.

Thursday, May 01, 2008 3:01:43 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 28, 2008

The ITU/MIC Kyoto Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change closed 16 April with agreement that the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) should play a significant role in the global efforts to combat climate change. The Symposium had six substantive sessions, including:

  • Climate change: ICTs to the rescue?
  • Corporate responsibility: Towards a climate-neutral ICT sector
  • ICTs for monitoring climate change
  • ICTs as a clean technology
  • Towards a high bandwidth, low carbon future
  • Adapting to climate change

A number of actions were recommended for ITU such as assisting countries, in particular developing ones, to raise awareness on how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help adapting and mitigating to climate change. Specific areas mentioned are, among others, strengthening the capacity of developing countries to use ICTs for sustainable development, disaster and emergency preparedness, actions on food insecurity, use of remote sensing, assistance to rural communities and coordinated action to assist the most vulnerable countries. Experts also recognized that each country should consider promoting the use of ICT applications for government services (e-Government) from national to local levels, as well as reducing the emission of greenhouse gases through environmentally friendly use of ICTs in other sectors such as public health, education, business and employment.

More information on the Symposium is available in the chairman’s report, the meeting summary and the ITU background report. Presentations from this event can be viewed here. The chairman’s report will be forwarded to upcoming meetings of the World Economic Forum, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) ministerial meeting in the Republic of Korea, the G8 meeting in Japan and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The second ITU symposium on ICTs and climate change, will be held 17-18 June in London, hosted by BT. The London event will also be broadcast as a live Webinar. To register online at this event, see here.

Monday, April 28, 2008 2:09:01 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Information Security experts recently revealed that government networks in Blighty and UN computers have been hacked and ensnared in a botnet. According to Websense, the attacks happened in March using some sort of SQL injection. It was said that the number of computers compromised is impossible to know but an estimate could be around 100,000 URLs. "A victim reaching a hacked site will be redirected a different page, hosted on a Chinese server. The IP address keeps changing within the JavaScript making it hard to locate."

Read the full article here.

Monday, April 28, 2008 8:34:29 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, April 25, 2008

The United Nations (UN) recently launched the e-Government Survey 2008: From E-Government to Connected Governance assessing the e-government readiness of the 192 Member States of the UN. The study results are based on a quantitative composite index of e-readiness, including website assessment, telecommunication infrastructure, and human resource endowment.

One of the key outcomes of the study is that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can help reinvent government in such a way that existing institutional arrangements can be restructured and new innovative approaches can flourish, paving the way for a transformed government.

The focus of the report, in Part II, is e-government initiatives directed at improving operational efficiency through the integration of back-office functions. Whilst such initiatives, if successful, will deliver benefits to citizens, the primary purpose is to improve the effectiveness of government and governmental agencies. Models of back-office integration, irrespective of the delivery mode, fall into three broad categories: single function integration, cross functional integration, and back-office to front-office integration. The level of complexity, expressed in terms of the number of functions within the scope and number of organizations involved, is the primary factor influencing a successful outcome - with a tendency amongst the more ambitious projects to fail to deliver the full anticipated benefits. The key variables involved in the delivery of back-office integration are the people, processes and technology required.

The report is available at the website of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the UN's Public Administration Programme. For more information, click here.

Friday, April 25, 2008 3:23:16 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, April 22, 2008

According to China's Computer Emergency Response Team (CN-CERT)'s 2007 annual report released last week, the greatest threat to the nation's portion of the internet are Trojan horse programs and bot software. Based on CN-CERT's findings, "the number of Chinese Internet addresses with one or more infected systems increased by a factor of 22 in 2007... [and] of 6.23 million bot-infected computers on the Internet, about 3.62 million are in China's address space." The report alse reveals that "domain name registration in the nation had almost tripled in the past year, attacks that tampered with legitimate Web sites grew 1.5 times, and malicious drive-by attacks jumped 2.6 times."

The report is currently only available in Chinese.
Read the full article here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 2:48:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 21, 2008

Six new standards enabling a more secure ICT environment have been approved by ITU. Experts say that the standards represent an important achievement reflecting the needs of business in establishing risk management strategies and the protection of consumers.

Three ITU-T Recommendations cover a definition of cybersecurity, a standardized way for vendors to supply security updates and guidelines on spyware. While the other three focus on countering the modern day plague of spam by providing a toolbox of technical measures to help consumers and service providers.

Recommendations on spam are a direct response to a call from the World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly (WTSA), the quadrennial event that defines study areas for ITU-T. Members asked that ITU-T define technical measures to tackle this plague of the digital world following growing global concern at additional costs and loss of revenue to Internet service providers, telecoms operators and business users.

Read the full news article on the ITU-T newslog.

Monday, April 21, 2008 3:08:28 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Dan Kaminsky, director of Penetration Testing IOActive, Inc., gives a presentation on wildcard and NXDOMAIN redirection services. It discusses typosquatting, DNS ad injection, and provides several examples showing how these phishing trends work. Basically, it is quite possible for non-existent domains to be created validly on any random server, and to be near undetectable. Kaminsky concludes that "even small amounts of failed net neutrality can lead to catastrophic side effects on Internet security" and that "even if everything was 100% SSL, if the ISP could require code on the box, they could still bypass the crypto, and alter the content."

Access Dan Kaminsky's full presentation here.

Monday, April 21, 2008 9:15:51 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

On 15 November 2006, a Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on fighting spam, spyware and malicious software had been released. "The Commission Communication on a Strategy for a secure Information Society aims at improving the security of network and information at large and invites the private sector to address vulnerabilities in network and information systems that can be exploited to spread spam and malicious software. The Commission Communication on the Review of the EU Regulatory Framework proposes new rules to strengthen security and privacy in the electronic communications sector." This Communication deals with the evolution of spam, and threats such as spyware and malicious software. It also takes stock of efforts made so far to fight these threats and identifies further actions that can be taken, including strengthening Community law, law enforcement, cooperation within and between Member States, political and economic dialogue with third countries, industry initiatives, and R&D activities.

Among the proposed actions in this Communication are:

  1. Member States and competent authorities are called upon to lay down clear lines of responsibility for national agencies involved in fighting spam, ensure effective coordination between competent authorities, involve market players at national level, drawing on their expertise and available information, ensure that adequate resources are made available to enforcement efforts, and subscribe to international cooperation procedures and act on requests for cross border assistance.
  2. Companies are encouraged to ensure that the standard of information for the purchase of software applications is in accordance with data protection law, contractually prohibit illegal use of software in advertisements, monitor how advertisements reach consumers and follow up on malpractice, and e-mail service providers to apply a filtering policy which ensures compliance with the recommendation and guidance on e-mail filtering.
  3. The Commission aims to continue efforts in raising awareness and fostering cooperation between stakeholders. It also aims to continue to develop agreements with third countries including the issue of the fight against spam, spyware and malware, introduce new legislative proposals that strengthen the rules in the area of privacy and security in the communications sector, present a policy on cyber crime, involve ENISA expertise in security matters, and support research and development in its FP7 program.

With the accelerating development and spread of spam, spyware and malicious software, "the Commission is using its role as an intermediary to create greater awareness about the need for greater political commitment to fight these threats."

Read the full Communication here.
More on European Union Laws here.

Monday, April 21, 2008 8:30:25 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A presentation on "e-Environment Opportunities for ITU " has been posted online today on the ITU-D ICT Applications and Cybersecurity Division (CYB) website. The presentation was made by Robert Shaw, head of the ICT Applications and Cybersecurity division, for the ICTs and Climate Change Symposium in Kyoto, Japan on 15-16 April 2008. It discusses definitions, the ITU report on "ICTs for e-Environment", background and objectives, environmental issues, trends of ICTs for environment, the effects of ICTs, e-Environment and sustainable development, implications for developing countries, and opportunities for ITU. More relevant information on the ITU activities on climate change website and on the CYB e-Environment website.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 8:20:36 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 14, 2008

As an input to its activities on economics of network and information security (NIS), ENISA has commissioned a study identifying barriers and incentives for NIS. The overarching aim of the report is to analyse the economic impact of NIS, to assess added value and contribution to the smooth functioning of the Internal Market for e-Communication. In February 2008, the report entitled "Security Economics and the Internal Market" by Prof. Ross Anderson, Rainer Böhme, Richard Clayton and Tyler Moore was submitted to ENISA, aiming:

  • To identify existing economic barriers for addressing Network and Information Security (NIS) issues in a single, open and competitive Internal Market for e-Communication;
  • To assess these barriers’ potential impact on the smooth functioning of the Internal Market for e-Communication;
  • To identify and analyse incentives (regulatory, non-regulatory, technical, educational, etc.) for lifting these barriers identified to cause distortion of the smooth functioning of the Internal Market for e-Communication;
  • And to provide a range of recommendations to relevant actors (decision-makers both at EU and national level, industry, academia, etc.) for policy options, possible follow-up actions and initiatives.

The report identifies relevant groups of stakeholders and assesses their role and responsibilities. In addition, the report offers explanatory and where possible causal linkages.

More information on the ENISA website.
Read the full report here.

Monday, April 14, 2008 3:33:46 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The European Network and Information Security Agency, ENISA's report gives an overview on information security certifications of products, people and processes. It addresses common concepts, definitions, certifications of different types, as well as clarifies the mandatory and legal background for some certifications. It also explores the analogies and disparities between a number of existing certification schemes. Finally, it analyses current trends in certification and offers six recommendations to improve network and information security in Europe through a wider use of security certification.

Recommendations:

  1. ENISA recommends that organisations should certify their information security management systems, choose certified security products where possible and encourage information security employees to choose
    one or more appropriate personal information security certifications.
  2. Starting from ISO 27001 as the standard of choice for the certification of information security management systems in private and public organisations, the development of the complementary standards of the
    27000 family should be encouraged. However, their value must be verified on a case-by-case basis.
    The case of small or medium-sized organisations deserves particular attention.
  3. Special attention should be paid to areas where Common Criteria evaluation has become mandatory, and to the impact on the market.
    The EC should reconsider the feasibility and benefits of extending the intergovernmental Mutual Recognition Agreement on Common Criteria to all Member States as a shared tool contributing to a more secure e-Communication market.
    Government, vendors and security experts should analyse ways of building solid business models for product certification according to various schemes.
    Framework Programme 7 should consider sponsoring research to analyse the economics of the certification of products.
  4. The European Institutions should consider the feasibility of strengthening accreditation schemes related to people certification in IT security as well as a more systematic reference to recognised standards.
    The European Institutions should also encourage the development of people certification adapted to different types of professional use of IT systems, from the enduser level (Computer Driving Licence) to the most professional (e.g. IT security officer).
  5. The European Institutions should consider ways to reinforce bridges between education (schools and universities) and the certification process (private training and certificate providers) throughout a professional career.
  6. At a more individual level, ENISA recommends that the decision to seek a certificate should be based on the following questions: Do I want information security to be my certified profession? Do I want to prove that I can work in information security? Do I want to prove expertise in a very specific area of security? Or do I just want to prove IT skills which include aspects of security?

For more information, please refer to the full report.

Monday, April 14, 2008 1:44:30 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

A presentation by Martin J. Levy of Tier1 Research and Josh Snowhorn of Terremark on Datacenter Power Trends - NANOG 42 Power Panel at the NANOG 42 meeting discusses colocation centre problems, how these came about, what is expected to happen, and how colo is considered the bottleneck of the Internet. As cited from the Gartner Research in 2006, "some organizations are in the unenviable position of paying more to power and cool a rack a servers than they paid for the rack and the servers themselves. Clearly things are moving out of balance." Case studies and possible solutions to these datacenter problems are also included in the presentation.

Read the full presentation here.
More on the NANOG 42 meeting here.

Monday, April 14, 2008 1:16:19 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, April 11, 2008

The first ITU Symposium on ICTs and Climate Change (15-16 April in Kyoto, Japan, co-organized and hosted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) will be available as a webinar in order that remote participants can see and hear presentations from wherever they are in the world. Provision will also be made for remote participants to submit comments and questions. Space is limited.

Reserve your seat for

- Day 1 at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/862573173.

- Day 2 at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/540961252.

A live audio stream will be provided at: mms://stream.icckyoto.ne.jp/ict/.

Full Programme (times in JST, London -8, New York -13)

ITU Background Paper on ICTs and Climate Change

System requirements

Friday, April 11, 2008 1:29:57 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, April 09, 2008

In Al Gore's new slideshow on climate change posted yesterday on TED.com, he presents evidence that climate change may could be even worse than scientists were recently predicting, and challenges us to act with a sense of "generational mission" - the kind of feeling that brought forth the civil rights movement - to set it right.

Mr. Gore was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007, along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change."

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 8:28:46 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, April 07, 2008

A recent paper of Andrew Odlyzko of the Digital Technology Center at the University of Minnesota discusses “the Internet’s role in aggravating and alleviating the energy crises”. The article points out that, since the days of the horse-drawn coach and the penny post in England, people have believed that travel and communications would be substitutes, i.e. an increase in one would result in a decrease in the other. Nevertheless, history has shown that both travel and communications have grown in parallel with economic growth and have been complementing and stimulating each other. This has happened despite – and even because of – technological developments in each of these two areas.

One could conclude from past experience, therefore, that the Internet – as a new form of communication – would cause a continued increase in travel, leading to ever-greater consumption of energy. The article highlights, however, that there is a key difference between the current situation and the past: the very high and growing price of energy. Because of this unique context, the article concludes that the Internet - and greater broadband deployment - may actually bring about a reduction in energy consumption by helping to reduce the need for travel as well as by bringing about other efficiencies.

To read the full article, click here.

Monday, April 07, 2008 5:17:50 PM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, April 03, 2008

A report by the UK media regulator, Ofcom, has reported that 'millions of children are using social networking websites intended for older users.'

Despite the minimum age requirement  of between 13 and 14 yrs set by Bebo, MySpace and Facebook, the report found that more than 25% of UK 8-11yr olds have a social network profile.

The Home Office is due to disclose a set of guidelines for such sites involving best practice, security and privacy on Friday 4th April.

This report by Ofcom showed a "significant difference" between the perception of risks in using social network sites between parents and children.

James Thicket, director of market research, Ofcom stated, "While people are aware of the status of their profile, there is a general lack of awareness of the issues attached to them around privacy and safety". He also added, "People put aside concerns about privacy and safety believing they have been taken care of by someone else".

The lack of child protection in such social network sites is further demonstrated by the following Ofcom figures:

41% of children allowed their profile to be viewed by anyone -

16% of parents did not know if their child's profile could be seen by strangers -

The vulnerability of children (especially younger ones) to online predators cannot be ignored and Mr Thickett goes on to say,

"Children are using these sites with a far lower awareness of some of the issues and rules that these sites entail".

Ofcom  plan to monitor and review the new guidelines agreed by social networks and the Home Office.

Dr Rachel O'Connell, Bebo chief safety officer, said, "We're working with the regulatory bodies. It's critical to our business that we adhere to these guidelines".

For more information see BBC and The Guardian.

Thursday, April 03, 2008 10:27:01 AM (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |