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Network outage at World Conference on International Telecommunications

Disruption reinforces importance of cybersecurity

Dubai, 6 December, 2012 – Communication with one of the ITU websites was interrupted on late Wednesday afternoon, December 5, interfering with external access to the main ITU site and disrupting the late meeting of Working Group 1 of Committee 5, the substantive working committee of the WCIT-12 conference.

As a contingency measure, network traffic was redirected to a backup website hosted in another geographical region. ITU has noted a significant increase in network traffic generated by the worldwide attention around WCIT-12, and in particular, the public interest in conference documents and webcasts of conference proceedings. Some performance degradation was experienced for two hours before normal operation was restored.

The incident blocked civil society, media and other interested parties from following the proceedings, and prevented access to the wealth of online information on the ITU’s WCIT home page and Newsroom. Some delegates were frustrated at being unable to access some of the online working documents that were being considered by the meeting. However, a spirit of camaraderie prevailed, with those who had access to up-to-date online versions of the texts willingly sharing with other delegates in order to keep discussions moving forward. Some hacker groups are claiming responsibility.

In line with ITU’s commitment to environmental responsibility, WCIT-12 is a paperless conference, with delegates able to access the updated versions of all texts via an online platform. The decision to dispense with six-language paper copies of the hundreds of proposals up for discussion is saving an estimated 250,000kg of CO2 equivalent emissions. While further technical measures have been put in place today to ensure the online system continues to function, the conference can revert to paper processing if necessary, to ensure discussions proceed according to the tight timetable set for negotiation of the new treaty.

WCIT-12 conference is being held to renegotiate the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs), a binding global treaty that facilitates global interconnection and interoperability of information and communication services. Some 2,000 delegates and over 100 local and international press are working on the event at the Dubai World Trade Centre, which is taking place from 3-14 December. Up to 2,000 people per session are following the live and archived multilingual webcasts of the event, with an additional estimated Twitter exposure of over 35 million people via the WCIT hashtags by the start of the conference.

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré said threats made against the conference by cyber criminal groups fly in the face of the principles of freedom of expression and unfettered access to information that the WCIT-12 conference has been at pains to defend. “It is ironic that the very people who claim to be fighting for a free Internet are preventing those around the world trying to follow the event online from getting access. Do they believe in one rule for them, and one for everyone else?”

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A full English transcript derived from the simultaneous captioning in the meeting rooms is available for all Plenary and Committee 5 sessions at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/captioning.aspx.

Live and archived multilingual webcasts of the WCIT-12 opening ceremony, opening press conference and all meetings of the conference Plenary and Committee 5 over the coming two weeks are available at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/webcast.aspx

ITU is hosting a daily media briefing with the ITU Secretary-General and other key officials recapping each day’s discussions. These briefings will take place at 18:00 local Dubai time, accessible on any computer via the Adobe Connect platform at: http://itu.adobeconnect.com/wcit2012/

Speeches, daily meeting schedules and other information can be found on the main WCIT-12 Newsroom at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/newsroom.aspx

A FAQ, a comprehensive set of Background Briefs covering the main discussion topics and a WCIT Myth Buster presentation can be found at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/WCIT-backgroundbriefs.aspx

View videos from the meeting and download broadcast quality video footage at: www.itu.int/en/newsroom/Pages/videos.aspx

Photos from the meeting can be downloaded at: www.flickr.com/photos/itupictures/sets/72157632073685626/

The main conference preparatory documents can be found at: www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/documents.aspx

The current ITRs can be found at: www.itu.int/oth/T3F01000001

Note to editors:

ITU is unique within the UN family in having some 700 Sector Members (mainly from the private sector) in addition to 193 Member States. All have been actively engaged in the WCIT-12 preparatory process, which has been underway for some years. In addition, ITU set up a public consultation website open to all stakeholders in six languages (total of 31 submissions received between 15 August-7 November, of which 29 published [and 2 rejected because of unauthorized hyperlinks]). ITU has also held four global briefings (supporting remote participation from anywhere around the world) open to media, analysts and civil society: those held using Adobe Connect are archived at: http://www.itu.int/en/wcit-12/Pages/media-briefings.aspx.

For more information, please contact:

Paul Conneally
Head, Communications & Partnership Promotion, ITU
tel +41 22 730 5601
mobile +41 79 592 5668 
  +971 55 639 7614
email  paul.conneally@itu.int   
Sarah Parkes
Chief, Media Relations and Public Information, ITU
tel +41 22 730 6135
mobile +41 79 599 1439
  +971 55 639 7644
email sarah.parkes@itu.int   
Gary Fowlie
Head, ITU liaison Office to the United Nations
tel +1 917 679 5252
mobile +971 55 639 7677
email gary.fowlie@itu.int    
Zara Nazim
Raee PR
Dubai Media City
tel +971 50 801 2315
email  z.nazim@raeeme.com  
Sana Al-Lababidi
Raee PR
Dubai Media City
tel +971 50 162 6565
email s.lababidi@raeeme.com   
Noora Al Ameri
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
United Arab Emirates
tel +971 55 893 2525
email  noora.alameri@tra.gov.ae   
Noor M. Shamma
Media Relations Manager
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
United Arab Emirates
tel +971 2 611 8260
email  noor.shamma@tra.gov.ae    
 

 

Note for media: please register in ITU’s video newsroom for access to broadcast quality footage and news packages at www.itu.int/en/newsroom/Pages/videos.aspx.

 

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