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 Friday, 01 August 2008

The ITU Regional Cybersecurity Forum for Asia-Pacific, and related Seminar on the Economics of Cybersecurity was held in Brisbane, Australia, 15-18 July 2008.

The regional cybersecurity forum, which was hosted by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), Government of Australia, aimed to identify the main challenges faced by countries in the region in developing frameworks for cybersecurity and CIIP, to consider best practices, share information on development activities being undertaken by ITU as well as other entities, and review the role of various actors in promoting a culture of cybersecurity. The forum also considered initiatives on the regional and international level to increase cooperation and coordination amongst the different stakeholders. The forum, one in a series of regional cybersecurity events organized by the ITU Development Sector (ITU-D), was held in response to ITU Plenipotentiary Resolution 130: Strengthening the role of ITU in building confidence and security in the use of information and communication technologies (Antalya, 2006) and the 2006 World Telecommunication Development Conference Doha Action Plan establishing ITU-D Study Group Question 22/1: Securing information and communication networks: Best practices for developing a culture of cybersecurity. 

Approximately 90 people from 27 countries participated in the event, from the Asia-Pacific region, the Pacific Islands, as well as from other parts of the world. Full documentation of the forum, including the final agenda and all presentations made, is available on the event website. The meeting report available on the event website summarizes the discussions throughout the three days of the ITU Regional Cybersecurity Forum for Asia-Pacific, provides a high-level overview of the sessions and speaker presentations, and presents some of the common understandings and positions reached at the event.

The day prior to the start of the ITU Regional Cybersecurity Forum for Asia-Pacific, 15 July 2008, was dedicated to an ITU Tariff Group for Asia and Oceania (TAS) Seminar on the Economics of Cybersecurity. Throughout the seminar the participants learned about the pervasive incentives and the new revenue streams that are created from malware and spam, how they enable legitimate business models (e.g., anti-virus and anti-spam products, infrastructure, and bandwidth) as well as fraudulent and criminal ones (e.g., renting out of botnets, bullet proof hosting, commissions on spam-induced sales, pump and dump stock schemes). Distinguished experts in this area explained how malware and spam create mixed and sometimes conflicting incentives for stakeholders, which complicate coherent responses to the problem. An ITU Study on the Financial Aspects of Network Security: Malware and Spam was presented and discussed at the event.

See the event website for more information.

Friday, 01 August 2008 20:43:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The International Telecommunication Union organised two Symposia on ICTs and Climate Change. The first was held in Kyoto, Japan 15-16 April 2008, hosted by MIC Japan, and the second was held in London, UK, on 17-18 June, hosted by BT.

These symposia brought together key specialists in the field, from top decision-makers to engineers, designers, planners, government officials, regulators, standards experts and others. Among others, the ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau presented a summary of the study report on "ICTs for e-Environment - Guidelines for Developing Countries, with a Focus on Climate Change".

For more information on presentations, meeting summarie and the outcomes of the symposia, click here.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008 15:54:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 12 June 2008

As part of its effort to combat climate change, the European Commission announced on 13 May 2008 that it would promote the use of ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) to improve energy efficiency throughout the economy, starting with buildings, lighting and the power grid. The Commission will encourage the ICT industry to demonstrate leadership in reducing its own CO2 emissions and by identifying and creating solutions that will benefit the whole economy. "To meet Europe's energy efficiency goals by 2020, we need a high growth, low carbon economy. Research and rapid take-up of innovative energy efficient ICT solutions will be crucial to lowering emissions across the whole economy," said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "There is a win-win situation in which ICT will promote the competitiveness of EU industry while leading the fight against climate change."

For more information, click here or read the European Commission document on Addressing the challenge of energy efficiency through Information and Communication Technologies.

Thursday, 12 June 2008 13:01:00 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 19 May 2008

The Federal Trade Commission has approved four new rule provisions under the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM), which aim to clarify the Act’s requirements.

The new rule provisions address four topics: (1) an e-mail recipient cannot be required to pay a fee, provide information other than his or her e-mail address and opt-out preferences, or take any steps other than sending a reply e-mail message or visiting a single Internet Web page to opt out of receiving future e-mail from a sender; (2) the definition of “sender” was modified to make it easier to determine which of multiple parties advertising in a single e-mail message is responsible for complying with the Act’s opt-out requirements; (3) a “sender” of commercial e-mail can include an accurately-registered post office box or private mailbox established under United States Postal Service regulations to satisfy the Act’s requirement that a commercial e-mail display a “valid physical postal address”; and (4) a definition of the term “person” was added to clarify that CAN-SPAM’s obligations are not limited to natural persons.

Continue reading the news release here.

Monday, 19 May 2008 15:11:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

BBC News recently reported the arrest of five hackers described as being among the most active on the internet. The hackers, who include two 16-year-olds, are accused of disrupting government websites in the United States, Asia and Latin America. Spanish police say the hackers co-ordinated attacks over the internet and hacked into 21,000 web pages over two years.

Read the full report here.

Monday, 19 May 2008 14:30:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

On an article published Wednesday, 14 May 2008, on the Guardian, Will Ashley-Cantello writes about how the youth are both fully aware of the need to reduce environmental impacts and equipped to making this change happen. Ashley-Cantello points out that the second generation internet has fast become the most powerful tool the environment movement has. "Around 96% of Americans between 11 and 18 are members of an online social network. So when you consider that protecting the environment is a passion of many young people, the potential power of influence of Web 2.0 for the green movement is phenomenal." According to the Forum for the Future, 78% of university applicants in 2007 believed that "lifestyles need to change across the board, or in many areas, for human civilisation to survive the next 100 years". It is, therefore, imperative that our young citizens are given a fair hearing on the decisions that current leaders are making - and online social networking can help achieve this.

A new social networking site,, was set up exclusively to join together young people who share a passion for protecting our natural environment. As a moderated site, it aims to be an enabler for young people aged 11 to 18 to act on their environmental concerns. The site has already attracted hundreds of young people since launching last August. It is set to expand rapidly after establishing a new partnership with the British Standards Institute, which is using the site to promote a Sustainable Students competition, involving about 20,000 schools.

Read the full article here.

Monday, 19 May 2008 09:46:28 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

The Guardian recently reports on a survey into ways in which colleges and universities can make computing greener and more sustainable. Preliminary findings of the study is about to be published soon. "Higher Education Environment Performance Improvement (Heepi) and SustainIT, an NGO set up to focus on the environmental and social impact of IT, are researching how sustainable further and higher education IT is, and how education best practice compares with the private sector. The report being written for the Joint Information System Committee (Jisc) says green IT is best achieved through the collaboration of IT and estates management." Among the findings is that increased energy and computing costs can be offset by technologies such as grid computing and virtualisation. According to Peter James, author of the report and is also part-time professor of environmental management at Bradford University and associate director of SustainIT, "Eighty to 90% of a computer's capacity is wasted. By linking PCs together we can run complex computing tasks broken down into manageable chunks when the computers are not in normal classroom use."

The publication of Heepi and SustainIT's interim report in June marks the start of a series of up to seven campus IT open days to be held throughout the UK until October and designed to allow IT managers a chance to see the latest sustainable initiatives for themselves. At least one event will be focused on the further education sector and based around the virtualisation programme at Stockport college.

Read the full article here.

Monday, 19 May 2008 08:50:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 16 May 2008

As part of the ITU Cybersecurity Internship Programme, ITU launches the 2008 Cybersecurity Essay Competition. The purpose of the ITU Cybersecurity Internship Programme, and related 2008 ITU Cybersecurity Essay Competition, is to increase cybersecurity awareness and give young people, especially from developing countries, exposure to the main issues related to cybersecurity and to the ongoing work of ITU in this area. It is hoped that the fellowships granted to promising students and recent graduates from ITU Member States through the cybersecurity essay competition will help build cybersecurity capacity in developing countries as these interns will be exposed to ITU cybersecurity activities, learn about the main international and regional actors in this field, and constructively contribute with their country-specific insights into ITU cybersecurity-related work. The competition is open to current students and recent graduates in economics, political science, law, literature, computer science, information systems and related fields, between the ages of 20 and 30 years old.

For more information about the programme and competition, visit the programme website.

Friday, 16 May 2008 09:26:41 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

OECD, together with the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, and the National IT and Telecom Agency, will hold a Workshop on ICTs and Environmental Challenges at Eigtveds Pakhus, Copenhagen, Denmark on 22-23 May 2008. 

The aim of this workshop is to:

  • Take stock of the impacts of information and communication technologies (ICTs) on the environment.
  • Identify areas for further analysis of the application and use of ICTs to further environmental goals.
  • Identify opportunities and best practices in the use of ICTs, the Internet and sensor networks in environmental management, energy efficiency, cleaner technologies and improved resource management.
  • Consider policy implications and the development of goals and priorities in efficient buildings, transport and distribution systems that harness the potential of ICT-based systems and sensor networks.
  • Contribute to preparation of the OECD Seoul Ministerial on the Internet Economy, the Hokkaido G8 meeting, and the planned OECD conference in 2009 and the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2009.

For more information about this workshop, click here or visit the The Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the National IT and Telecom Agency's website.

Friday, 16 May 2008 08:05:40 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 14 May 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, 14 May 2008 09:04:08 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 07 May 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, 07 May 2008 11:26:17 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 02 May 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, 02 May 2008 15:40:27 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 01 May 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, 01 May 2008 15:01:43 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 28 April 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, 28 April 2008 14:09:01 (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, 28 April 2008 08:34:29 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 25 April 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, 25 April 2008 15:23:16 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 22 April 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, 22 April 2008 14:48:19 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 21 April 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, 21 April 2008 15:08:28 (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, 21 April 2008 09:15:51 (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, 21 April 2008 08:30:25 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 16 April 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, 16 April 2008 08:20:36 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |