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 Wednesday, 11 February 2009

According to a article in the Indian Hindustan Times, "Indian diplomats now cannot open a Facebook account, use external e-mail services, or write blogs, thanks to new rules and much stricter firewalls aimed at preventing cyber attacks and leakage of classified information. Over the past eight months, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has been overhauling its computer network security, putting up layers of barriers against intrusions into the network, officials associated with cyber security said. There are almost 600 computers at its headquarters at South Block, about half of which are connected to the Internet. Classified work is typically done on stand-alone computers, usually with the external drives removed. "We have set up a unified threat management system for the ministry. This simultaneously uses eight levels of protection like firewalls and spam mail filtering," said a senior official.

"We are also requesting and encouraging more responsible behaviour from our staff when working online," the official told IANS, requesting anonymity. A circular issued last week asked officials not to log on to social networking sites, specifically citing Facebook, Orkut and Ibibo as examples. The other prohibited practices include download of peer-to-peer music using sites like Kazaa and sharing of photos through Flickr and Picasa. The circular also discourages using services like G-mail, Yahoo! or Hotmail for official communication. A similar circular, officials said, had been issued in the Prime Minister's Office in December. But the matter is even more critical for the foreign office as officials posted in Indian missions abroad or on foreign tours tend to use web-based mail rather than the ministry's own mail system. "We have had cases of senior officers using G-mail or other similar accounts abroad for official work, only to find some form of tampering when they return," the official said, adding people have been told to change their web-mail passwords if they had opened the account during foreign tours. The missions have been told to use their official mail ID issued by the National Informatics Centre for communication. But several missions have complained that the mail home page was inaccessible due to port blocks by local Internet service providers. They have been asked to contact their service providers to unblock the site. "We want to secure communications with Indian missions through private networks. This may be implemented in the next few months," said an official working with the technical team in the ministry.

Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009 15:29:01 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Press release issued simultaneously by ITU and European Commission.

Geneva, 10 February 2009 — ITU and the European Commission have joined forces to mark Safer Internet Day. This year, the focus is on protecting children online.

Children are among the most active — and most vulnerable — participants online. According to recent surveys, over 60 per cent of children and teenagers talk in chat rooms on a daily basis. Three in four children online are willing to share personal information about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services. One in five children will be targeted by a predator or paedophile each year. Protecting children in cyberspace is, therefore, clearly our duty.

"Children are very resourceful in making the most of online services such as social networking sites and mobile phones," said Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "But many still underestimate the hidden risks of using these, from cyber-bullying to sexual grooming online. Today, I call upon all decision-makers, from both the public and the private sector, to listen and learn from children and to improve awareness strategies and tools to protect minors." Ms Reding added: "The Internet binds the whole world together. The safety of children who use it is a concern for everyone. I am therefore very happy that ITU is associated with us in doing this, today on Safer Internet Day, and all year round."

"Child online safety must be on the global agenda," said ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun Touré. "We must ensure that everyone is aware of the dangers for children online. And we want to promote and strengthen the many outstanding efforts that are being made around the world, such as the Safer Internet Programme, to limit these dangers." This year, the 6th edition of Safer Internet Day includes more than 500 events in 50 countries worldwide. ITU and the European Commission will collaborate on this and future events, such as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, 17 May 2009, which is dedicated to "Protecting Children in Cyberspace". The European Commission’s Directorate General for Information Society and Media has declared its full support for ITU’s Child Online Protection (COP) Initiative. The EC’s Ins@fe Network will launch a Safer Internet Day virtual exhibition which will host pavilions where visitors can learn more about initiatives undertaken by the 50 participating countries. ITU will host an online pavilion in support of EC’s efforts to raise awareness among youngsters aged 12 to 17 regarding the risks they may face online.

ITU and Child Online Protection (COP)

ITU’s motto is "committed to connecting the world", but we are also committed to connecting the world responsibly. That means working together to ensure cybersecurity, enable cyberpeace, and — more importantly — protect children online. While child online protection programmes exist in many developed countries, there are very few in the developing world today — and very little coordination between them. ITU established the Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA) and launched the Child Online Protection (COP) initiative. COP aims to bring together partners from all sectors of the global community to ensure a safe and secure online experience for children everywhere.

See the press release here.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009 15:38:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 

Telecommunication company, 02 has launched  a new book, 'Who Wants 2 No?', aimed at 8-12 year olds in an effort to promote greater Internet safety among children.

Available to schools and libraries, this book also aims to encourage children's literacy skills by providing an enjoyable story as well as an important safety message.

Ronan Dunne, CEO, Telefónica 02 UK Limited added, "....Technology is available to help keep children safe, but is only part of the solution. It's also important that children learn how to be smart and stay safe as part of their online experiences...."


Read full article


Tuesday, 10 February 2009 09:27:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 26 January 2009

Despite the number of data breaches which have occured in the UK over the past year, the UK Government has now authorised 390,000 professionals (including local authorities, police, health service and children's charities) direct access to contact details on all under 18-year-olds in England.

This  224 million pounds ContactPoint database was developed following the death of Victoria Climbie in 2000, when Social Services were highly criticised for lack of coordination and adequate follow-up of children at risk.

It is hoped that this database will go some way to preventing children from slipping through the net.

The Conservatives voiced their concern by stating that this database was "another expensive data disaster waiting to happen". The Liberals were equally opposed, calling it an "intrusive and expensive project".

(Source: BBC NEWS)

Full Story

BBC website




Monday, 26 January 2009 14:45:35 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Friday, 23 January 2009

NYTimes writes that "A new digital plague has hit the Internet, infecting millions of personal and business computers in what seems to be the first step of a multistage attack. The world’s leading computer security experts do not yet know who programmed the infection, or what the next stage will be. In recent weeks a worm, a malicious software program, has swept through corporate, educational and public computer networks around the world."

"Known as Conficker or Downadup, it is spread by a recently discovered Microsoft Windows vulnerability, by guessing network passwords and by hand-carried consumer gadgets like USB keys. Experts say it is the worst infection since the Slammer worm exploded through the Internet in January 2003, and it may have infected as many as nine million personal computers around the world."

This article was accessed through Dave Farber's list.
See the full article in NYTimes here.

Friday, 23 January 2009 15:49:04 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Sunday, 18 January 2009

Well-known British Child Psychologist, Tanya Byron compares the dangers of letting children use the Internet without supervision to allowing them to cross dangerous roads without assistance.

"Government must be co-ordinated in its approach, we must have a national strategy" Byron states, adding,

"Now Obama has laid out his ambitious strategy and France has just published its own, too, there's a bit of a race on to lead the way in protecting children online...."

She encourages parents to take an interest in their children's online activity as well as providing commonsense advice such as putting the family computer in the living room as opposed to the child's bedroom.


Full story

Sunday, 18 January 2009 16:23:58 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 15 January 2009

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Emily Steel looks at who should bear the responsibility for protecting children online following the release of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force report on child esafety.

Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina is reported as saying, "Clearly the main responsibility is on parents."  adding, "..because technology companies are providing the gathering space and encouraging children to come, they have a duty to put in place technologies that can help protect kids".

Acknowledging efforts by social networking sites such as MySpace to respond to reports of abuse within 24 hours, as well as blocking child predators from their network.

(Source: Wall Street Journal)

Read article here

Wall Street Journal

Thursday, 15 January 2009 00:14:08 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 10 January 2009

A number of children at a London girls school were suspended from school as a result of posting "deeply insulting comments" about a staff member who is reported to be receiving counselling as a result.

The group of girls, aged between 11 and 18 signed up as members of The Hate Society on Facebook. The headteacher of Grey Coat Hospital School, Rachel  Allard stated, "We can confirm that a number of pupils have been given fixed term exclusions for between 2 and 15 days after the school became aware of their involvement in a hate campaign about a member of staff using an open Facebook group.."


(Source: Telegraph)

Full story

Telegraph website

Saturday, 10 January 2009 15:06:54 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 06 January 2009

In a letter to the Guardian newspaper, John Carr, from the Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety argues that cohesion within the Internet industry can do much to address child online safety "without the need for direct government intervention".

(Source: Guardian)

Read letter here

Guardian website

Tuesday, 06 January 2009 23:41:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Tuesday, 09 December 2008

A recent ITU study dedicated to the "Financial Aspects of Network Security: Malware and Spam" (July 2008) reviews some of the current leading thinking and research on the economics of cybersecurity. The full study can be found here.

Security flaws are often due to perverse incentives rather than the lack of suitable technical protection mechanisms. As individuals and companies do not bear the entire costs of cyber incidents, they do not tend to protect their system in the most efficient way. If they did support all the financial consequences, they would have stronger incentives to make their network more secure for the good of all interconnected networks. Measures to improve information security enhance trust in online activities and contribute directly and indirectly to the welfare gains associated with the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

However, some expenditure on security is only necessary because of relentless attacks by fraudsters and cyber-criminals that undermine and threaten trust in online transactions. Such costs are not welfare-enhancing but instead a burden on society. Two vectors through which such attacks are carried out are malware and spam. During the past two decades, the production and dissemination of malware has grown into a multibillion dollar business. Damages created by fraudulent and criminal activities using malware and the costs of preventative measures are likely to exceed that number significantly. Malware puts the private and the public sector at risk because both increasingly rely on the value net of information services. Spam and malware have multifaceted financial implications on the costs and the revenues of participants in the ICT value chain. The costs carried by all stakeholders across the value network of information services are affected directly and indirectly by this. But most of the financial flows between the legal and illegal players in the underground cybercrime economy are only partially known. The ITU study is a survey of existing resources and data available when it comes to the economics and financial aspects of cybersecurity.

Access the ITU study on the "Financial Aspects of Network Security: Malware and Spam" (July 2008) here.

Tuesday, 09 December 2008 20:45:48 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 03 December 2008

The 2008 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) is being held 3-6 December 2008 in Hyderabad, India. The third meeting of the Internet Governance Forum will be focusing on the overall theme of ‘Internet For All’. The main sessions are organized as three thematic days under the following headings: ‘Reaching the Next Billion’, ‘Promoting Cyber-Security and Trust’, ‘Managing Critical Internet Resources’ with the last day covering ‘Emerging Issues - the Internet of Tomorrow’ and ‘Taking Stock and the Way Forward’.

Transcripts of the main session, webcasts, and contributions to the dicussions can be found on the IGF website.

Wednesday, 03 December 2008 21:13:57 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Thursday, 13 November 2008

ITU launched a new initiative today to safeguard children, the most vulnerable users of the Internet. Addressing ITU’s high-level meeting on cybersecurity by video message, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "We have to protect against cyberthreats, especially when they target children. I welcome the ITU’s Child Online Protection (COP) initiative and urge all States to support it."

The Child Online Protection initiative brings together partners from all sectors of the international community with the aim of creating a safe and secure online experience for children everywhere. While the virtual world offers unlimited opportunities in many respects, it is also the hunting ground for cybercriminals and paedophiles. Recognizing that a concerted global effort would be required to ensure that the cyberworld becomes a safe place for young people to work, learn and play, ITU is working with other UN agencies, including UNICEF, UNICRI and UNIDIR.

Building confidence and security At the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in 2005, ITU was entrusted by leaders of the international community with Action Point C5: "building confidence and security in the use of ICTs". As an intergovernmental organization with a network of 191 Member States and more than 700 Sector Members and Associates, ITU was a logical choice. In 2007, in answer to this responsibility, Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, launched the Global Cybersecurity Agenda (GCA), an international framework that addresses 5 main aspects: legal measures technical and procedural measures organizational structure capacity building international cooperation The WSIS outcomes also specifically recognized the needs of children and young people and their protection in cyberspace.

The Tunis Commitment recognized "the role of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the protection of children and in enhancing the development of children" and the need to "strengthen action to protect children from abuse and defend their rights in the context of ICT". The COP initiative is in line with ITU’s mandate to establish the foundation for a safe and secure cyberworld for future generations. The need for COP is clear. A decade ago, there were just 182 million people using the Internet globally — and almost all of them lived in the developed world. By the end of 2008, however, there will be over 1.5 billion Internet users worldwide, and more than 400 million of them will have broadband access — vastly increasing the dangers online, especially for children. With over 600 million users in Asia, 130 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 50 million in Africa, the Internet is a growing common resource. 

"ITU is the lead UN agency on ICT for Development," said Mr Sami Al-Basheer, Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT). "In working towards an all-inclusive information society we must ensure that children everywhere can enjoy the benefits of ICTs while being protected from the risks posed by inappropriate use."

Read the full press release for the COP initiative here.

Thursday, 13 November 2008 22:00:37 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Saturday, 01 November 2008

The ITU Regional Cybersecurity Forum for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was held in Sofia, Bulgaria from 7 to 9 October 2008.

The forum, which was hosted by the State Agency for Information Technology and Communications (SAITC) of the Republic of Bulgaria, aimed to identify some of the main challenges faced by countries in Europe and CIS in developing frameworks for cybersecurity and CIIP, to consider best practices, share information on cybersecurity 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.

Approximately 130 people from 25 countries participated in the event from Europe and CIS, as well as from other parts of the world. Simultaneous interpretation in Russian and English was provided for the participants throughout the forum. 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 Europe and CIS, provides a high-level overview of the sessions and speaker presentations, and presents some of the common understandings reached at the event.

See the website for further information.


Saturday, 01 November 2008 21:23:45 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Wednesday, 03 September 2008

The ITU's Telecommunication Development Bureau launched the study report "ICTs for e-Environment - Guidelines for Developing Countries, with a Focus on Climate Change", which is intended to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to mitigate and adapt to environmental change, including climate change, through the use of information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Although ICTs require energy resources, they also offer a number of opportunities to advance global environmental research, planning and action. This includes monitoring and protecting the environment as well as mitigation of and adaptation to climate change. The report also looks extensively at the use of ICTs in many different aspects of work on the environment, including environmental observation, analysis, planning, management and protection, mitigation and capacity building.

In order to assess the adoptability of selected ICT applications for environmental management in developing countries in general, the report proposes a ranking system with parameters such as (a) environmental scope, (b) technology, (c) transferability, and (d) impact.

Furthermore, the ICTs for e-Environment report considers over 150 ICT applications in one of its annexes, including the name of the ICT applications, description, area of work, sponsor, region, active dates, and relevant web references.  

Not all countries have the capacity to take advantage of these technologies in order to use the full potential of ICTs for environmental action. The report states that there is a clear need for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to global environmental action through access to ICTs and the use of information technologies and management practices to eliminate duplication of efforts. This can be done by consolidating action at national levels on the many and varied environmental conventions and initiatives that developing countries have already agreed to in principle. ICTs provide a unique opportunity to do so while assisting in building local capacity to use these tools and practices.

There is also a need to assign the environment a more important profile in ICT strategic planning initiatives at the national level and, in particular, in e‑Governance and e-Goverment initiatives so that the use of ICTs for the environment is integrated into planning processes from the beginning, along with other national priorities and initiatives.

The report proposes a methodology to undertake rapid national e‑Environment assessments as well as to develop and implement national e‑Environment strategies. Among other proposals, the report recommends the preparation of an e‑Environment toolkit comprised of best practices as one practical method to assist developing countries to take advantage of ICTs for environmental research, planning and action. Strengthening ongoing research activities is another proposal as well as placing more focus on the environment sector in e‑Government initiatives. Working on a regional basis may be the best approach for smaller, landlocked or island jurisdictions, such as small island developing states.

Whatever approach is taken to support the use of ICTs for environmental action in sustainable development, it must be undertaken in close collaboration with key development partners at the national and international level and in consultation with actors in the public and private sectors as well as civil society.

Wednesday, 03 September 2008 15:42:52 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     | 
 Monday, 01 September 2008

The ITU Regional Cybersecurity Forum for Eastern and Southern Africa was held in Lusaka, Zambia from 25 to 28 August 2008.

The forum, which was hosted by the Communications Authority of Zambia and the Government of Zambia, and jointly organized by ITU and COMESA, 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.

Approximately 60 people from 21 countries and 4 regional organizations participated in the event. Among the participants were professionals from governments, regulatory authorities, private sector, and civil society. Full documentation of the event, 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 four days of the ITU Regional Cybersecurity Forum for Eastern and Southern Africa, 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 third day of the ITU Regional Cybersecurity Forum, 27 August 2008, was dedicated to specific working sessions on developing national and regional cybersecurity/CIIP capacity through three working groups. The working groups focused on 1) developing a national cybersecurity strategy, 2) legislation and enforcement and, 3) watch, warning, and incident response. In addition to the overall forum recommendations, specific recommendations and suggestions were developed by the three ad hoc working groups: Working Group 1: Regional Approach for the Development of a National Cybersecurity Strategy; Working Group 2: Legal Foundation and Enforcement; and Working Group 3: Watch, Warning, and Incident Response.

See the event website for more information.

Monday, 01 September 2008 20:33:56 (W. Europe Standard Time, UTC+01:00)  #     |