Satellite Internet links appear to be vulnerable and useful for hiding traces of cybercrime acts, reveals Kaspersky.
Satellite Internet links appear to be vulnerable and useful for hiding traces of cybercrime acts, reveals Kaspersky.
93rd IETF meeting took place in Prague, with the IAB plenary within. Interesting discussions on vehicular networking took place. ITU Secretary General also joined the technical plenary.
The telecommunications infrastructure is a physical medium through which all Internet traffic flows. Therefore, there are number of related policy issues including reaching out to end user - especially in the rural and remote areas, liberalisation of the telecommunication and services market, investments in the development of further intercontinental fibre backbone links, and the establishment and harmonisation of the technical standards. Since the telecommunication infrastructure is predominantly privately owned, there is a strong interplay of corporate sector, governments and international organisations in global debates.
Internet data can travel over a diverse range of communication media: telephone wires, fibre-optic cables, satellites, microwaves, and mobile telecommunications technology. Even the standard electric grid can be used to relay Internet traffic utilising power line technology.
The way in which telecommunication is regulated impacts Internet governance directly. The telecommunications infrastructure is regulated at both national and international level by a variety of public and private organisations. The key international organisations involved in the regulation of telecommunications include the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which developed rules for coordination among national telecommunication systems, the allocation of the radio spectrum, and the management of satellite positioning; and the World Trade Organization (WTO), which played a key role in the liberalisation of telecommunication markets worldwide.
The roles of the ITU and the WTO are quite different. The ITU sets detailed voluntary technical standards and telecommunication-specific international regulations, and provides assistance to developing countries. The WTO provides a framework for general market rules.
Following liberalisation, the ITU’s near monopoly as the principal standards setting institution for telecommunications was eroded by other professional bodies and organisations. At the same time, large telecommunication companies – such as AT&T, Vodafone, Telefonica, Orange, Tata Communications, and Level 3 Communications – were given the opportunity to globally extend their market coverage. Since most Internet traffic is carried over the telecommunication infrastructures of such companies, they have an important influence on Internet developments.
The Internet can be structured into three basic layers. A technical infrastructure layer (physical), a transport layer (standards, protocols) and an application and content layer (www, apps). A good interaction of the first two layers is crucial from the perspective of telecommunications.
In order to use and further develop the telecommunications infrastructure efficiently, there was a need to bridge two worlds with different needs - telecommunications and computers. This issue was solved by a technical standard called Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). TCP/IP works over the infrastructure; all applications work over TCP/IP. Nowadays, the major part of telecommunication infrastructure is built to fit the needs of digital communication and the Internet.
The telecommunications infrastructure has been growing rapidly over the last 60 years. The very first networks were built as end-to-end connections. This ensured the link between two end-points was stable, fully available (dedicated), and was able to offer ‘quality of service’. The need to connect as many end-points as possible and the increase in the volume of data flow required a change in this approach.
Today, the connectivity is provided to everyone, but some technical aspects (speed, stability, delay etc.) of the connection are not guaranteed. This principle is called ‘best effort’. The closer to the end-point, the higher probability the customer is served under the best effort approach. Given that bandwidth is shared, Fair Use Policies (FUPs) can be applied, certain types of data can be prioritised (even under the net neutrality provisions), and many more limits can be used.
The convergence of infrastructure and computer networks is possible thanks to the TCP/IP protocol which works on the best effort principle. This means that almost the whole Internet works on the best effort principle. The technical development in all three layers of the Internet seeks to emulate the Quality of Service as much as possible. While there can be a satisfactory level of quality of Internet connectivity, there are still cases where current technical solutions can be insufficient. For example remote surgeries, aviation, military use, etc.
The telecommunications infrastructure faces a problem of how to reach the end user. The access networks to the Internet should be dense, designed and built systematically in order to lead to all customers (even hypothetical ones). They have to overcome obstacles of public spaces (roads, buildings, rural areas, and prices for deployment). This issue is called the ‘last mile’. The common solution how to bridge the last mile is to use an already built infrastructure like copper wires, cable TV or mobile networks. Such an infrastructure is often in the hands of a monopolistic operator. The governments and regulatory bodies usually solve this issue by ordering the operators to rent their loops (local loop unbundling).
The technical advancements in the last decade empowered the idea that broadband access to the Internet would be possible through wireless connections. Accepting that there are obvious positive sides of such connectivity, there are also several aspects to be aware of. The air is a shared medium and therefore requires higher regulation of its electromagnetic spectrum part. A wireless connection is endangered by interference from various sources (weather conditions, outer space radiation, etc.) and is more likely to be vulnerable to external attacks (hacking, spying, sabotage etc.). In terms of quality and speed, at this moment any wireless connection is unable to compete with cable infrastructure.
This article addresses the evolving concept of the digital divide, progress made by the EU in bridging the digital divide, and the next steps that need to be taken.
The latest edition of glossary, compiled by DiploFoundation, contains explanations of over 130 acronyms, initialisms, and abbreviations used in IG parlance. In addition to the complete term, most entries include a concise explanation and a link for further information.
The book, now in its sixth edition, provides a comprehensive overview of the main issues and actors in the field of Internet governance and digital policy through a practical framework for analysis, discussion, and resolution of significant issues. It has been translated into many languages.
The report outlines predictions of the development of the technology, media, and telecommunications sectors in 2017. It covers issues such as: biometric security, distributed denial of service attaches, self-driving vehicles, 5G networks, machine learning, and Internet of Things as a service.
This report provides a common framework for addressing the barriers related to achieving Internet for all.
The report contains statistics about Internet connectivity and usage in the fourth quarter of 2015. It covers issues such as: Internet adoption rate and connection speeds, IPV4 counts, and IPv6 adoption trends.
This report addresses Internet traffic and the digital divide in the ASEAN region, relating it to terrestrial broadband connectivity, traffic exchange, internet costs and quality aspects.
The DESI is a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe's digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness
This report shows how data can help access the barriers to connectivity at the global, national and local levels and informs initiatives to reduce them
Report on the implications of technological and economic convergence for the regulation of the digital ecosystem. The report focuses on six areas of regulatory policy: access regulation, barriers to entry and exit, privacy and data protection, merger review, spectrum management, and universal availability and access
The paper provides an overview of the mobile network ecosystem in 2015, and presents a series of projections and growth trends in the mobile data traffic. A continuously growing adoption of mobile technologies by end users is predicted, and it is expected that this will make the Internet of Everything more sustainable.
This report maps the broadband market developments in the EU in 2015.
The report outlines several predictions for technology developments in 2016. It focuses on: 5G, big data, Internet of Things, the customerisation of software, and market convergence.
The MISR has been published annually since 2009 and features key ICT data and benchmarking tools to measure the information society, including the ICT Development Index (IDI)
The document, produced as part of the IGF 2015 inter-sessional work, looks at why Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) matter when it comes to facilitating access to the Internet, and it exlores modalities to create enabling environments that allow IXPs to develop and flourish.
Index that measures the maturity of 85 Internet economies. The index has three components: enablement, engagement and expenditure.
This report explores what constitutes an effective National Broadband Plan to boost the deployment of broadband and maximise its impact as a cross-sectoral driver underpinning progress.
This report examines and documents evolutions and emerging opportunities and challenges in the digital economy. It provides a comprehensive overview of the digital economy, including matters of infrastructure, policy, net neutrality, development, privacy and security.
This report focuses on mobile Internet, its trends and growth, benefits, challenges and recommendations.
This report contains four messages: 1) the ICT revolution has the potential of transforming economies and societies; 2) the ICT revolution is well under way in some parts of the world; 3) the ICT revolution has not so far reached large parts of the planet; 4) Digital divides exist within countries
As a practical contribution to a more secure Internet, Prof. Adrian Perrig, Computer Science Department, ETH Zurich, presented his team’s work on the ‘Scalability, Control and Isolation on Next-Generation Networks’ (SCION) architecture. He elaborated on his comments on the previous panel, in which he disagreed with other speakers that humans were the weakest link in cybersecurity and emphasised the relevance of sovereignty matters in light of the ability of a few select (state and business) actors to implement kill switches against entire nations. Perrig illustrated his point with the case of the cyberattack Estonia suffered in 2007. In a more recent example, three weeks ago a Google employee in Japan made a mistake. As a result, ‘half of the country was down for 40 minutes’. If even an honest mishap like that can cause a complex Internet structure such as the Japanese to lose half of its digital capabilities, ‘then we have a problem’.
SCION, Perrig maintained, comes to solve this issue. It was built ‘to ensure the creation of areas of sovereignty where external entities cannot access and thereby disrupt connections’. Its basic approach is to use isolation domains, with routing across a number of autonomous systems. Before SCION was launched, the Border Gate Patrol (BGP) protocol was the only one to operate accordingly. Nonetheless, BGP was subjected to attacks such as prefix hijacking, to which SCION is much more resistant. This happens because SCION’s multi-path routing allows users to not only have a greater selection of paths, but also to control them. Moreover, multi-path routing enables users to prevent the transfer of any data packets from networks that are unauthorised by them. So, even when hackers may have all the necessary information on a particular network to launch an attack, they will be unable to do it, unless their network is authorised.
Showcasing the SCION team’s accomplishments, Perrig mentioned ETH’s partnership with SWITCH, the Swiss national research and educational network. Such endeavor allowed other Swiss universities to enjoy the benefits of the architecture. All that is needed is a special router, which can be installed in 5 minutes. SCION’s dedicated visualisation system can be accessed from a machine as straightforward as a Raspberry Pi. Currently, SCION is present in over 40 campuses around the world. In addition, SCIONLab has already shipped another 50 routers to other universities, in Switzerland and abroad. Another landmark is that one Swiss bank has already changed one of its branches’ network to SCION. These developments evince that, not unlike the replacement of regular phones with smartphones, users have begun to perceive the benefits of SCION in comparison with other network architectures.
To conclude, Perrig challenged the reasoning that humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity. To him, only people can make certain decisions regarding technology with political implications. Nonetheless, the issue lies on the fact that ‘if you make it easier, it will be less effective’. Therefore, it is upon experts to adopt solutions that are both secure and user-friendly.
The ensuing Q&A covered topics such as: whether wide-scale adoption of SCION will demand scalar change in Internet architecture (no, the SCION router is all that is needed, Perrig responded); how does Scion differ from a firewall (it is an ‘implicit firewall’); the energetic efficiency of SCION (it spends 5% less than regular networks, despite being more secure); what incentives users of regular networks have to change to SCION (more secure and path-aware network architecture). Lastly, summarising the benefits of the architecture, Perrig compared cyberattacks to weapons such as missiles, positing that their effects on SCION would be as harmful as ‘a squirt gun’.
Ms Maarit Palovirta, Internet Society, moderator of the workshop, referred to the latest EU Digital Progress Report. According to the report, an unsatisfactory quality of connectivity, both in urban and rural areas, is still a problem felt across Europe.
Mr Jan Droege, Director of the European Commission Broadband Competence Offices Support Facility (BCO-SF), showed a short video on the work of BCO-SF. He talked about the community's interest in the co-operative model and the creation of BCO-SF to address related issues. In the model, the community takes the matter in its own hands, funds the project as a co-operative, and builds the needed infrastructure itself. The emphasis is on the communal overcoming of problems with the broadband connection. The European Union has investment schemes for underserviced regions, but not all funds get used. A lack of skills is one of the reasons for this, so the BCO-SF was created to provide training to member states in need, Droege stated.
Ms Lise Fuhr, Director General of European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO), gave the business stakeholder group point of view. Fuhr said that discussing new investment models is important for the industry. ETNO members currently finance 70% of investment capital in broadband in Europe and more is needed for new technologies. The European Commission is also now allocating funds for 5G networks. She acknowledged that there is no model appropriate for all areas, so ETNO welcomes models such as community investment, industry-driven, or mixed. Fuhr also addressed the issues of unallocated spectrum, saying that it is a limited resource in which many have an interest.
To explain why the community model exists and how it operates, Mr Luca Belli, Head of Internet governance, FGV Direito Rio, recommended the guide called Commotion Construction Kit. According to Belli, this model is a bottom-up crowd-funding initiative. The focal point is that the community designed it to fit its particular needs. It was created because of market failure in areas where companies are not interested, and because of the unused subsidies. Belli stressed the benefits of the model, such as new jobs and the development of systems along with new infrastructure. Building the network together also reconnects community members. Sharing best practices is crucial for spreading the model, Belli said. The traditional operators will remain the backbone of connectivity, and less regulation could help gain greater interest in the model from the community.
Mr Giorgi Cherkezishvili, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, explained how his country implemented the model and brought connectivity to the unconnected. The government wanted to provide high speed Internet, but the broadband providers did not reach all communities, especially in the mountains. The initiative came from non-governmental organisations to lead the project. The government provided support and funds because, according to Cherkezishvili, connectivity brings with it entrepreneurship and governments need to help its development. He recognised the importance of a favourable regulatory environment for the model.
Mr Ucha Seturi, Executive Director, Small and Medium Telecom Operators' Association of Georgia, noted that the Tusheti project is a successful initiative because of its co-operative nature. The idea of the Internet Society, implemented by its Georgian chapter, is an example of co-operation between the local community and stakeholders. Seturi pointed out that local members funded the project, and it allowed the region to be connected online for the first time. The whole new network is based on solar energy, and represents the social responsibility that the local community members feel, according to Seturi.
The session, organised by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) was moderated by Mr Alex Wong, Head of Global Challenge Partnerships at the World Economic Forum (WEF). Developing countries were at the centre of the discussion alongside the important gender gap underlined by Wong, considering the decreasing number of women connected to the Internet despite technology advances. The importance of involving stakeholders from the private and the public sectors in order to fill the gaps between countries and between men and women in the use of the Internet was repeatedly taken up by the panellists.
Mr Bocar Ba, CEO at the SAMENA Telecommunications Council, focused on the challenges, approaches, and opportunities to take into account in collaborations between the private sector and civil society. In his opinion, access to the Internet must become a basic human right, not only a basic human need. As regards the challenges, he considered the infrastructure a major obstacle to connecting people around the world because operators face extremely expensive fees when developing connectivity in developing countries. He underlined the need to make the Internet affordable; this can be improved if the private and public sectors work together. Concerning opportunities, he said that we are heading towards a digital economy that needs to better include the population and create new partnerships. Finally, regarding approaches, he noted that we already have the solutions on the table but that there is a need to increase collaboration to reach a common objective and to encourage cross-sector cooperation including between the education and health sectors.
The second panellist, Mr Michael Kende, Senior Fellow at the Internet Society, noted that trust in the use of the Internet is a major challenge, not only for developing countries but also for developed ones. He stated that there is a need to focus on and create a digital economy rather than just focusing on Internet access. He said that an important effort has been made in the last ten years regarding infrastructure and that the new challenge is to get more people and businesses online so they also benefit from the digital economy.
In the second part of his speech, Kende mentioned the Global Internet Report 2016, released by the Internet Society, which focuses on trust in the Internet and on data breaches. As mentioned in the report, he underlined the concern that with these breaches, there will be less trust in the use of the Internet, especially regarding sensitive information which is also a risk for companies’ reputation, particularly those that have been hacked. However, Kende stressed that companies also have strong protection via their terms and conditions which give them zero liability in the case of a breach. Therefore, as users are still the most vulnerable in these situations, he believes that there is a need for people to trust the system in order to build a strong ecosystem.
Ms Vanessa Erogbogbo, Head of the Empowering Women to Trade Programme at the International Trade Centre (ITC) stressed the importance of women in the digital economy. According to Erogbogbo, despite the growing presence of small companies on the Internet, women are still under represented. Thus, the ITC has taken several actions to unlock markets for women-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under the She Trades initiative. The main aim of this initiative is to make women entrepreneurs visible to the international economy to increase visibility and networking. As part of this initiative, an Internet platform has been developed to help women secure government contracts, strike business deals, access markets, unlock financial services, and to grant ownership rights. Erogbogbo also underlined that the active role of women on the Internet is not only a concern for developing countries but also for developed ones. According to ITC data, only 6% of mobile application developers are women and in 2016, there were 257 million fewer women online, compared to 2015, which accentuates the growing gap in connectivity between men and women.
The final speaker, Ms Esperanza Magpantay, Senior Statistician at the ICT Data and Statistics Division at the ITU, regretted that there is still a large of number of developing countries which do not collect statistics on connectivity. She added that these statistics are also important for policymakers and investors to see which measures must be put in place. Magpantay focused on the results provided by the Measuring the Information Society Report 2016 which shows a steep rise in mobile cellular subscriptions and mobile broadband subscriptions and that mobile broadband networks reach 84% of global population and 67% of rural population. The report also stressed, as she mentioned, that there is a significant digital divide between developing and developed countries. Moreover, the report gives an ICT Development Index which emphasises a strong association between economic and ICT developments. The report gives several indications about the evolution of mobile cellular prices and broadband prices but it also shows several gaps between men and women or for people living in rural areas who are less likely to own or use a mobile phone than those living in urban areas. Other important points also emerge from the report according to Magpantay. The benefits of the Internet are still unavailable to over half the world’s population. Most people who have access to Internet services do not actually use them. It also shows that the full potential of the Internet remains untapped, especially for low-income and less educated users. In addition, access to the Internet as such is not enough; skills are needed to take full advantage of what it offers.
The discussion ended with a Q&A which pointed out the importance of cultural and political obstacles faced by women across the world regarding the use of the Internet. Erogbogbo added that the legal barrier is also an important element considering that gender inequality is in some cases written into law. The panel agreed on the fact that more collaboration between the different stakeholders is needed, not only in developing countries but also in developed ones.
The need for further deployment of infrastructure in unconnected areas, as a step towards bringing the next billions of users online, was a recurrent topic at the IGF 2016 meeting (discussed, for example, in the IEEE Open Forum - OF15). Discussions focused on broadband and community networks (Dynamic Coalition on Community Connectivity); Internet Exchange Points - IXPs (Best Practice Forum on Internet Exchange Points) and Content Delivery Networks - CDNs (Content Delivery Alternatives: Intertwining of IXPs and CDNs - WS47); public WiFi networks and white space technologies (Public Wi-Fi/Open Access Models in Developing Countries - WS161). The need to speed up the deployment of IPv6 was also underlined.
Possible causes of Internet fragmentation were analysed in several sessions: breaches of the net neutrality principle; data localisation policies; commercial and governmental practices of blocking access to online content (Internet Fragmentation: Net Neutrality - WS173); various dimensions of the digital divide (Internet Fragmentation: Getting Next 4 Billion Online - WS37); and alternative roots and initiatives, such as the Digital Objects Architecture (Domain Name System fragmentation? Risk and reality - WS75).
While developing countries represent around 80% of the world’s population, the rate of Internet adoption in developing countries (39%) is significantly low. Various ways of increasing the adoption rate - including strengthening the infrastructure, enabling cross-industry cooperation, and creating new business models - were discussed.
Mobile infrastructure can play a major role in narrowing the digital divide. The global mobile revolution is a key success factor, one panellist explained in Action Line C2 (ICT Infrastructure) - Evolving Affordable Broadband Infrastructure for Bringing ICT to All (session 121). One suggestion was to provide ultra-efficient and solar-powered base stations suitable for rural towns, with local communities providing a secure space where to host the station and other equipment. Government subsidies could support the effort. At the same time, broadband connectivity is also important.
In Action Line C6 (Enabling Environment) - Affordable Access for Sustainable Development (session 119), the panelists described the concept of infrastructure sharing in their regions. For example, in West Africa, providers are required to share their infrastructure, including the grounds, the antennae, and even active components within their networks, therefore passing the reduced cost of setting up new infrastructure on to the end user. In the Maldives, infrastructure sharing is embraced by the main industry players. Healthy competition levels helped make the networks more efficient in terms of cost and distribution.
Enabling a Trusted Connected World (session 111) discussed the vision of a trusted information infrastructure which would ensure that information running on the infrastructure is safe. In addition, addressing the issues related to proper regulation and interoperability could contribute to a trusted, connected world. Infrastructure-related challenges were also discussed in other sessions related to development, access, the digital divide, and e-commerce.
In Spectrum Allocations: Challenges & Opportunities at the Edge (WS 188), panellists discussed how new technology - including geo-satellites, orbits, high-altitude platform services, drones, and ‘balloons’ - was putting pressure on the use of spectrum. There are various opportunities, including the development of software for spectrum management.But just as software was introduced into the management of taxis, resulting in huge efficiencies but at the same time many social and economic downsides, we can either wait for the ‘Uberisation’ of spectrum management to happen, or regulate and manage the process in order to maximise the benefits of software.