Security researchers are warning that Web-based applications are increasing the risk of identity theft or losing personal data more than ever before.
The best defense against data theft, malware and viruses in the cloud is self defense, researchers at the Hack In The Box (HITB) security conference said. But getting people to change how they use the Internet, such as what personal data they make public, won’t be easy.
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People put a lot of personal information on the Web, and that can be used for an attacker’s financial gain. From social-networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook to the mini-blogging service Twitter and other blog sites like Wordpress, people are putting photos, resumes, personal diaries and other information in the cloud. Some people don’t even bother to read the fine print in agreements that allow them onto a site, even though some agreements clearly state that anything posted becomes the property of the site itself.
The loss of personal data by Sidekick smartphone users over the weekend, including contacts, calendar entries, photographs and other personal information, serves as another example of the potential pitfalls of trusting the Cloud. Danger, the Microsoft subsidiary that stores Sidekick data, said a service disruption almost certainly means user data has been lost for good.
Access to personal data on the cloud from just about anywhere on a variety of devices, from smartphones and laptops to home PCs, shows another major vulnerability because other people may be able to find that data, too.
“As an attacker, you should be licking your lips,” said Haroon Meer, a researcher at Sensepost, a South African security company that has focused on Web applications for the past six years. “If all data is accessible from anywhere, then the perimeter disappears. It makes hacking like hacking in the movies.”
A person who wants to steal personal information is usually looking for financial gain, Meer said, and every bit of data they can find leads them one step closer to your online bank, credit card or brokerage accounts.
First, they might find your name. Next, they discover your job and a small profile of you online that offers further background information such as what school you graduated from and where you were born. They keep digging until they have a detailed account of you, complete with your date of birth and mother’s maiden name for those pesky security questions, and perhaps some family photos for good measure. With enough data they could make false identification cards and take out loans under your name.
Identity theft could also be an inside job. Employees at big companies that host e-mail services have physical access to e-mail accounts. “How do you know nobody’s reading it? Do you keep confirmation e-mails and passwords there? You shouldn’t,” said Meer. “In the cloud, people are trusting their information to systems they have no control over.”
Browser makers can play a role in making the cloud safer for people, but their effectiveness is limited by user habits. A browser, for example, may scan a download for viruses, but it still gives the user the choice of whether or not to download. Most security functions on a browser are a choice.
ICT stimulus plans for economic growth
Geneva, October 2009 – The financial crisis has failed to make a major dent in demand for ICT services, with the mobile and satellite sectors proving remarkably resilient, and consumer demand for high-speed fixed and mobile connections continuing to fuel growth in broadband subscriptions in major markets worldwide, including Brazil, China and the US.
Global Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) installations are still forecast to grow at a steady rate of 30% over the next five years, while long lead times, robust demand for entertainment services and specialized financing mechanisms have helped bolster the satellite industry, which is predicting 50% growth over the coming decade.
These are some of the findings of the second edition of the ITU report on the role of ICTs in the financial crisis launched to coincide with the opening of ITU Telecom World 2009, which is taking place in Geneva from 5-9 October. Entitled Confronting the Crisis: ICT Stimulus Plans for Economic Growth, the report argues that the ICT sector has a major role to play in generating economic growth and stimulating the global financial recovery across all commercial and industrial sectors.
“Economists are still debating appropriate measures to combat the global recession,” said ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, “but we firmly believe that investments in ICT and broadband networks have a major role to play in any stimulus plan. They often promise stronger marginal returns on supply and greater productivity gains than other forms of infrastructure. Governments, regulators and industry players convening at ITU Telecom World 2009 will be considering the implications of this report as they formulate strategies to set nations not only on the road to economic recovery, but on a high-tech path to inclusive social development – at incredible benefit to future generations.”
Co-authored by ITU and experts from Ericsson, Eutelsat, Intel, UK-based analyst house The Mobile World, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), broadband consultancy Point Topic, and the World Bank, the report is the second in ITU’s Confronting the Crisis series.
Spanning an industry hallmarked by vigorous competition and constant innovation, the report analyzes which ICT market segments have best weathered the storm. Wireless communication technologies, fixed broadband Internet, Next-Generation Networks and satellite technologies all have enormous potential to spur economic growth in both developing and developed regions and across all sections of society, the report concludes.
Noting a reversal in the trend towards greater private sector participation over the last three decades, the report also revives the debate about the role of government in critical infrastructure investment. With the private sector alone now unlikely to be in a position to drive widespread infrastructure development, it seems clear that government must take simple and immediate steps to assist. At the same time, however, governments need to be mindful of where they direct spending, warns the report. With operators themselves hedging their bets by picking a raft of different technologies for ICT expansion, governments, too, should exercise caution when picking technologies, picking winners or even picking the communities where investments will be channelled.
The financial crisis has brought about momentous change, forcing industrialised markets into recession and resulting in declining economic growth rates in emerging markets. Within the ICT sphere, operators face greater challenges in accessing capital and financing their network investments, slowing plans to roll out Next-Generation Networks. Unchecked, these challenges could hold back communities that need solid broadband infrastructure to achieve their social and economic development goals: “Next-generation technologies bring enormous advantages to nations, and the right policy choices must be made now, so we can reap the benefits tomorrow,” concluded Dr Touré. .
Speed of dissemination and rate of feedback from audiences has sparked need for journalists to be more responsive and alert in their trade.
Technology has opened a new front of journalism with citizens now empowered than ever to actively contribute news and even set agenda for the media.
According to a study by ‘Internews Europe’ titled The Promise of Ubiquity-Mobile as a Media Platform in the Global South, growth of mobile phone reach could be a threat to traditional media, just as the Internet has been—and on a larger scale in developing countries.
The study predicts mobile telephony to be the world’s first universal communications platform— one that is getting there faster than anyone expected. Its major path of growth, reveals the study, is now in the global South, where the mobile is not just a phone but a global address, a transaction device, and an identity marker for hundreds of millions of poor people.
“This holds unprecedented opportunity formed in developing countries to engage their core audiences more deeply, reach new audiences on the edge of their current footprint, and provide interactive and customised information services that are both profitable and life-improving,” reads the study in part.
If media doesn’t address the mobile as a viable information platform, the study warns, others will, and within the space of a few years media players will have lost a large measure of their market share, ‘mind share’, and standing in society at large.
In his book, “Couch Potatoes Sprout: The Rise of Online Community Journalism, Jack Driscoll, former top editor of the Boston Globe predicts a shift that would destabilize the modus operandi in the media scene.
” There is quiet revolution by a new breed of communicators who are taking advantage of new electronic tools that enable their voices to be heard,” no matter where they are or what field they’ve worked in before, reads the book, a 163-page tutorial published last year, in part.
It’s a revolution that ignites memory of how far the media has come.
Gone are the days when editors wielded power of determining how the news should flow. Today, citizens have been known to out speed journalists and media houses in sending news to the world. Think of twitter, a short messaging system which interconnects millions of people world wide and YouTube which allows sharing of videos at a touch of a button.
There are also bloggers or just people with Internet connection who find themselves capturing news on cell phone cameras and sharing it the world over.
According to experts, online journalism is now overtaking television and radio in terms of speed and scope.
This has seen media groups now investing intensively on online platforms to avoid being sent into oblivion.
Driscoll demystifies the news gathering process arguing that with technology you don’t need to have studied or even worked in journalism to make a contribution and reconnect people to their communities.
“People have something to offer because they are part of the wisdom of the community…they are people that care about the community and want to make a contribution but don’t want to run for office,” he argues.
Disasters disrupt national economies, severely weaken the poor and vulnerable and are recognized as major impediments to sustainable development and reduction of poverty especially in poor countries. The impact is even worse for those living in remote and isolated areas with no access to basic information and communication facilities that are essential to providing vital alerting information.
In order to mitigate the impact of disasters, timely dissemination of authoritative information before, during, and after disasters is critical. ITU’s activities in the field of radiocommunications make invaluable contribution to disaster management as they facilitate the prediction, detection, and alerting through the coordinated and effective use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the establishment of radio standards and guidelines concerning the usage of radiocommunication systems.
ITU’s telecommunication technical standards also play a strategic role in ensuring global interconnection and interoperability of telecommunications networks for monitoring and management at the onset and during emergency and disaster situations. A number of Recommendations have been developed for call priority schemes that ensure that relief workers can get communication lines when they need to, whether using traditional or next generation communications networks. Complementary to the need to provide call priority during emergencies is the ability to deliver warnings to users, and standards are fundamental to ensure that warnings are timely delivered uncorrupted from the source to the end users – no matter how they can be reached.
The development arm of the ITU considers emergency telecommunications an integral part of its development agenda. For this reason, a lot of effort is directed at mainstreaming disaster management in telecommunications/information and communication technology projects and activities as part of disaster preparedness. This includes infrastructure development, and the establishment of enabling policy, legal and regulatory frameworks. In the immediate aftermath of disasters, ITU deploys temporary telecommunications/ICT solutions to assist countries affected by disasters. This includes the provision of basic telecommunications and telemedicine applications via satellites. Reconstruction and rehabilitation of telecommunications/ICT networks is an important part of disaster management. After providing assistance for disaster relief and response, ITU undertakes assessment missions to affected countries aimed at determining the magnitude of damages to the network through the use of geographical information systems. On the basis of its findings, ITU and the host country embark on the resuscitation of the infrastructure while ensuring that disaster resilient features are integrated to reduce network vulnerability in the event of disasters striking in the future.
The Tampere Convention
When disaster strikes communications links are often disrupted. But for disaster relief workers these links are essential to answer critical questions such as how many people have been injured or died, where they are located and the medical help needed.
Even though telecommunications can save lives in disaster situations, regulatory barriers can make it difficult to use the necessary equipment. However, ITU was a driving force in drafting and promoting the Tampere Convention. It allows relief workers to make full use of life-saving communication tools. The Tampere Convention calls on States to waive regulatory barriers that impede the use of telecommunications. These barriers include licensing requirements to use frequencies, restrictions on importing equipment and limits on the movement of humanitarian teams.
WORLD 2009 reflects new industry needs and realities ,increased collaboration and high-level dialogue cited by political and industry leaders as a positive force for the ICT sector
Geneva, 9 October 2009 — Forging top-level strategies aimed at harnessing the power of technology to enhance our global wellbeing was the focus of this year’s ITU TELECOM WORLD 2009, which concluded today.
Over 2,250 VIPs, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Heads of State, Heads of Government, Ministers, Ambassadors, heads of regulatory agencies, and CEOs from around the world, came together for the week-long event, which featured a series of top-level roundtables, meetings and lively debate on the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in addressing many of the most pressing issues of our time, such as climate change, global economic recovery and cybersecurity.
“During this past week, I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting with participants from all walks of the industry; from young entrepreneurs heading start-ups to CEOs of major ICT companies and prominent political leaders,” said Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General.
A quick walk through the exhibition halls was enough to confirm that the ICT industry continues to be driven by rapid innovation, despite the economic downturn. But while visitors were often dazzled by the many exciting technologies on display, Touré stressed the importance of working together to make global networks accessible to all, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
“ITU believes that meeting connectivity goals in ICT will help other sectors like health and education meet their targets by 2015. The concrete connections and partnerships forged this week, and the discussions I’ve been privileged to share, inspire me with confidence that nations and industry are committed to transforming lives by harnessing the power of modern digital technologies.”
Participants and delegates attended from 186 countries – almost the entire gamut of ITU’s 191 Member States. The show floor played host to 456 exhibitors from 49 countries, spanning just about every ICT domain, from the very latest wireless innovations to low-cost broadband solutions to satellite systems.
“ITU TELECOM WORLD 2009 is an outstanding forum that provides businesses, governments and NGOs the opportunity to collaborate on today’s leading issues,” said John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems. “Under the visionary leadership of ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré, this year’s ITU TELECOM WORLD has unveiled new ways that ICTs can improve the global standard of living through healthcare, education and sustainability.”
VVIP summits brought Heads of State and Government, ICT ministers and heads of regulatory agencies from around the world, together with top C-level decision makers for discussion on critical areas such as cybersecurity, climate change and the role of ICTs in economic development. Heads of State and Heads of Government were unanimous in recognizing the role of technology as a key tool in helping combat climate change, acknowledging the need to have ICTs recognized in the upcoming Copenhagen agreement. They also joined forces to offer condolences for victims of the recent natural disasters in Indonesia, the Philippines and the Pacific Islands.
The criticality of information-sharing in disaster response was reinforced by a key announcement at the event that will see 18 countries around the Indian Ocean rim participate in a United Nations-backed tsunami exercise. The exercise will stress the fact that, through good climate science and information sharing, ICTs can help reduce the risk and impact of natural disasters.
Forum sessions brought together players from across the ICT sector, from Ministers to CEOs, CTOs and technical and policy experts to discuss areas such as the new technologies shaping the future of ICT, the challenges of regulation in a fast-changing environment, and cybersecurity. Sessions featured roundtables and interactive panel discussions, with participants encouraged to put forward their questions via a range of different formats. For the first time, Forum sessions were webcast live to a global audience, allowing many more to share in the debate.
Companies, countries and regions from across the globe demonstrated the latest technologies on the show floor. Alongside major names and household brands were 35 pavilions from around the world, including a range of thematic pavilions which focused on key areas such as Green@ICT, e-Health, and empowering people with disabilities through ICTs.
“UNESCO, together with its partners, came to TELECOM WORLD 2009 to display assistive technologies and raise awareness of our mission – which is to mobilize new, action orientated partnerships and further cooperation among stakeholders”, said Abdul Waheed Khan, Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information, UNESCO. “As the role of ICTs in enhancing our global wellbeing was in the spotlight this week, we feel real progress has been made in achieving that goal. This event brought together the whole world of ICTs and underlined a vital message – that ICTs must be accessible to all.”
Over 250 young people from 135 countries took part in this year’s Youth Forum, following an action-packed programme of discussion and debate focusing on areas including Innovative technologies and services; New Visions, Policy & Regulation; and Connecting Schools to Connect Communities. During the course of their week in Geneva, Youth Fellows had opportunities to interact and develop mentor relationships with senior members of the ICT sector, such as government officials, industry executives, technology leaders and more.