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Member News: Ethiopia Launches Internet Society Chapter

Ready, set, launch: An Internet Society Chapter launched recently in Ethiopia, with a goal of advocating for the development and expansion of open, secure, trustworthy, and affordable Internet access to everyone in the country. The idea of starting an Internet Society Chapter came from a workshop, “where we became conscious of the fact that more than 85% of the Ethiopia population is losing countless opportunities every day because they don’t have access to the Internet,” wrote Adugna Necho, a networking professor at Bahir Dar University. “We believe the Internet is for everyone and we are here to work with all people – from communities to businesses to governments and ordinary people to connect the unconnected and create a bigger and stronger Internet in Ethiopia.”

More Internet, please: The Internet will keep people connected while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, the India Chennai Chapter notes. Governments should resist urges to shut down service, the Chapter says. “With factories, offices, public places, transportation, schools are colleges shut down, and no clear picture of whether normal life would resume in 4 weeks or 4 months, it is the Internet that could make life go on,” the Chapter writes. “While it is Continue reading

Truth Matters: Why Journalists Need Encryption Now More Than Ever

As COVID-19 spreads around the globe, so has misinformation about the virus. Log into any social media account and it’s easy to get confused by friends and family sharing contradictory messages on anything from infection rates, to local preventative measures, and what to do if we feel a dreaded cough coming on.

Truth matters – especially when public health is involved – and we often rely on journalists and news sources around the world to help us separate fact from fiction. And, whether we realize it or not, there’s a digital security tool that is a critical factor in the trust equation: encryption.

In a period that has seen various governments and law enforcement representatives propose laws that would weaken it, the pandemic is an important reminder of the role encryption plays to protect both journalists, their sources, and general news integrity.

End-to-end (E2E) encryption is a tool that keeps digital communications private by scrambling content so that only the sender and receiver have the keys to unscramble and read it.

This is crucial for journalists.

Journalists often rely on secure communication services like E2E messaging apps to connect with sources in a trustworthy way. With COVID-19 spreading, many organizations Continue reading

Working with APRICOT to Improve Routing Security

We’re pleased to announce that the Internet Society and the Asia Pacific Network Operators Group Ltd (APNOG) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate in supporting the MANRS initiative in the Asia-Pacific region.

APNOG is the non-profit entity that runs the annual APRICOT conference, also called the Asia-Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies. APRICOT is the largest meeting of the technical community in the region.

The agreement will see the two undertake initiatives and activities to promote the security of the Internet’s global routing system and Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS). MANRS is a global initiative, supported by the Internet Society, that provides crucial fixes to reduce the most common routing threats.

We agree to tackle routing-related cybersecurity incidents such as route hijacking, route leaks, IP address spoofing, and other harmful activities that can lead to DDoS attacks, traffic inspection, lost revenue, reputational damage, and more.

APRICOT draws many of the world’s best Internet engineers, operators, researchers, service providers, and policy enthusiasts from around the world to share the technical knowledge needed to run and expand the Internet securely. The partnership will allow MANRS to better leverage the platform to promote routing security to conference participants, Continue reading

A Backdoor Is a Backdoor Is a Backdoor

Beware of false promises and threats to encryption security online.

It’s easy to understand why United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray would ask companies to provide a means for law enforcement to access private data and communications.

“We’re all for strong encryption and… we are not advocating for ‘backdoors,'” he said at recent cyber security conference. “We’ve been asking for providers to make sure that they, themselves, maintain some kind of access to the encrypted data we need, so that they can still provide it in response to a court order.”

We all want to thwart criminals from using the Internet for harm. But here’s the catch: despite Wray’s claims, there is no way to comply with his request without breaking the security we all rely on to keep people, communications, and data safe online.

No matter what you call it, a backdoor is a backdoor. Any method that gives a third-party access to encrypted data creates a major vulnerability that weakens the security of law-abiding citizens and the Internet at large.

Encryption is essential to security online.

Consider how it contributes to the global effort to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Encryption protects the electricity Continue reading

IETF 107 Starts Today as a Virtual Meeting

A view of Vancouver from Skylab - photo from NASA

Later today, the 107th meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) will begin its working group sessions in an unconventional way. Previously, over 1,000 engineers were expected to be in Vancouver, Canada, to engage in the IETF’s work creating the open standards that make the Internet possible.

But with the global COVID-19 pandemic, the IETF leadership decided to cancel the in-person meeting in Vancouver. Instead a scaled-down, completely virtual meeting will take place. Only 12 of the IETF’s 115+ working groups will be meeting this week. Other working groups, and the research groups of the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF) may schedule interim meetings in the weeks and months ahead.

You can participate remotely in IETF 107. The steps are all outlined in this “Guide for IETF 107 Participants“. Useful resources include:

To be clear, most of the work of the IETF in creating the Internet’s open standards ALREADY takes place online. People create “Internet-Draft” documents that propose new ways to make the Internet work better. Those documents are discussed and debated on email lists for working groups. Eventually those working groups reach “rough consensus” and Continue reading

The Week in Internet News: Online Story Time in the Age of Social Distance

Connecting online: Many libraries and authors are offering online reading sessions during recommended social distancing due to the spreading coronavirus, says Timeout.com. The article offers a list of online reading activities.

WiFi on the bus: The Charleston County School District is deploying WiFi enabled buses across its school district to bring Internet service to students stuck at home because of coronavirus-related school closings, Live5news.com reports. The WiFi on the buses has a range of up to 150 feet.

Addressing access: Other organizations are taking several steps to help students and other people who don’t have Internet access while away from school or work. Several Internet service providers are providing free WiFi service for several weeks, Boston.com reports. Boston Public Schools are also offering computers and Internet access to students. In addition, several Internet and cable companies are promising to not cut off access for unpaid bills, BangorDailyNews.com reports.

Fake virus news: Twitter will be removing harmful news related to the coronavirus outbreak, TheGuardian.com reports. Among the tweets it will remove: Denial of health authority recommendations “with the intent to influence people into acting against recommended guidance,” like encouraging people not to socially distance themselves. Also, Continue reading

Introducing the Internet Society’s 2019 Impact Report

In these uncertain times we know the Internet is so much more than a tool. It’s a way for people to stay connected, informed, and educated. It shortens distances, spurs innovation, and fosters social and economic development. It empowers us and frees us.

It is a lifeline.

Yet, nearly 50% of the world still remains unconnected – and globally the Internet faces threats, each with the power to undermine the core of its existence. Now more than ever we must ensure the Internet remains open, globally connected, and secure.

The world is counting on it.

As we looked back at our work in 2019, an inspiring theme emerged: a global society driven by the idea that the Internet should be a resource for all, and persevering against odds to make this vision a reality. This society recognizes the Internet’s power as a way to stay in touch, to empower, to enable, and to create. Collectively, we are not just helping to bridge the digital divide, we are taking action to ensure the Internet remains resilient and trusted – a force for good.

Our 2019 Impact Report highlights the work of the Internet Society – our Chapters, Organization Members, individual members, Continue reading

Working from Home: Keeping It Secure and Private

With the global efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus underway, we’re seeing an unprecedented disruption of day-to-day operations across virtually all work sectors.

Coronavirus coverage is dominating headlines as more country borders, schools, major events and public venues are shut down in hopes of flattening the infection curve. Likewise, companies around the world are making tough calls to prioritize employee safety with business continuity in mind.

But thanks to the Internet, many workplaces are rapidly adapting operations to do their part and accommodate for what may soon become a new normal: remote working.

There are no shortage of web-based applications and services that allow us to continue core functions like meetings and collaboration that we’d do in an office-based setting. And not just the proverbial meeting that could have been an email.

But how do we ensure confidentiality when working remotely? There are some simple ways businesses and employees can ensure they are protecting themselves and their workplaces from malicious actors.

The answer is simple: encryption.

Encryption is the process of scrambling or enciphering data so it can be read only by someone with the means to return it to its original state.

It allows all our online Continue reading

The Week in Internet News: Coronavirus Shutdowns Expose Digital Divide

No Internet, no school: School closings in the U.S. in response to the coronavirus pandemic are exposing the continuing digital divide in the country, U.S. News and World Report says. The Federal Communications Commission should step in to help poor students get access, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told a Senate committee recently.

Testing the Internet’s capacity: Meanwhile, there are some worries that millions of people potentially working from home in the coming weeks could literally “break the Internet,” Slate reports. Corporate VPNs, stock trading sites, and video gaming services could be among the services impacted by people working from home.

Bad news in the U.K.: In Britain, broadband networks aren’t ready for millions of people working from home, ABC14News.com reports. Many home-based Internet services in the U.K. still use old copper-based networks, and Internet users should expect congestion.

The downside of working from home: One Washington Post writer worked from home for eight days and ran into several difficulties, including Internet outages. “Video conferencing fails 50 percent of the time. The online tools I’m using — Slack, Microsoft Office, Dropbox — treat work as paramount, so it never really goes away.”

Hackers take advantage: Continue reading

Intermediary Liability: The Hidden Gem

There is a law in the United States that consists of twenty-six words: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.” Otherwise known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), it has been characterized as the law that “created the Internet.”

Only part of this statement is true. Section 230 did not actually create the Internet because the Internet was created through the collaboration of a diverse set of people around the world. What is true, however, is that the intermediary liability regime has undergirded the Internet as we know it. It has been responsible for three primary features of the Internet:

  • It has created certainty and predictability: intermediary liability rules have allowed Internet providers (both infrastructure and content) to design compliance strategies based on a limited set of laws and their Terms of Service (ToS). Because of intermediary liability, companies can design businesses that suit their needs.
  • It has created good Internet citizens: intermediary liability rules have ensured that the burden of determining whether a business is going to speak in a particular way is Continue reading

The Week in Internet News: New Bill May Weaken Encryption

Unintended consequences: New legislation in the U.S. Senate to crack down on child exploitation online may lead to limits on encryption, many critics say. The EARN IT Act would give Attorney General William Barr the authority to create new rules to protect children, potentially including encryption backdoors, as Barr as called for, Wired.com reports. The bill put new conditions on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has for years protected websites from lawsuits targeting user-generated content and comments.

Voluntary steps: Meanwhile, Google, Facebook Microsoft, Twitter, Snap, and Roblox have agreed to adopt 11 voluntary principles to prevent online child sexual exploitation, CNet notes, although some critics have also suggested these rules are the first step toward weakening encryption.

Not so fast: In other encryption news, security certificate issuer Let’s Encrypt has delayed a plan to revoke more than 1 million certificates because of a recently discovered bug in its CAA (Certification Authority Authorization) code, Ars Technica reports. But because of confusion over a very short window for websites to renew their certificates, Let’s Encrypt gave them more time.

Bad certificates: Meanwhile, hackers have come up with a way to disguise malware as security certificate updates, Continue reading

Minister Bains, Let’s Rethink Canada’s Spectrum Auction

Yesterday’s announcement by the Government of Canada to drive down cell phone prices will only end up costing Canada in the long run.

In a press conference held yesterday, Minister Navdeep Bains of Innovation Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) laid out a plan that will not only allow the government to evoke further regulation to boost competition but allow it to sell off spectrum to the highest bidder.

It is a case of short-term gain that will lead to long-term pain.

It could have been an opportunity for ISED to bring many Canadians – particularly those living in rural and remote areas – closer to the government’s goal of universal broadband for all by 2030. Unfortunately, we believe that the auction rules announced yesterday by Minister Bains for this spectrum band are a step backward for innovative approaches to bring affordable access to the regions of Canada that most need it.

Currently, Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world to come online and much of the country still does not have fiber needed for broadband.

There are solutions to affordable access in Canada. One of which is community networks.

The Internet Society has long championed community Continue reading

Internet Society Board of Trustees Meeting on March 13-14, 2020, changed to a virtual meeting

Internet Society community members,

Due to concerns associated with the COVID-19 coronavirus, including the possibility of quarantines and other travel restrictions, the Internet Society Board of Trustees has decided to hold its meeting on 13-14 March, 2020, as a virtual meeting instead of a physical meeting in Cancun, Mexico. This board meeting was originally planned to follow the ICANN 67 meeting in Cancun, which was also changed to a virtual meeting.

The agenda and remote participation information will be published to https://www.internetsociety.org/board-of-trustees/meetings/ within the next few days.

The post Internet Society Board of Trustees Meeting on March 13-14, 2020, changed to a virtual meeting appeared first on Internet Society.

The First Ethiopia Internet Development Conference: Meeting Challenge and Opportunity Head On

When it comes to Ethiopia’s future online, there are many reasons to feel optimistic.

The country has one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, is strategically placed, and has a population of over 105 million, 60% of whom are under the age of 30. All of these are assets to make it a regional digital giant.

But this won’t happen unless Ethiopia takes some strategic moves. Internet penetration is still very low compared to its peers in Africa.  The rural areas are still largely unconnected to the Internet. Only cities enjoy 3G access and 4G is only available in the capital. In spite of successive price cuts by Ethio telecom in the last year, the Internet is not affordable for the majority of Ethiopians.

It’s not that the government has not wanted to connect the rural areas. In fact, the rationale that the Ethiopian government had to keep the monopoly was to use the money generated from cities to invest in the rural areas. However, this strategy has clearly not worked since Ethiopia’s rural areas are not better connected than those in countries that have not had a government monopoly on the sector, such as Kenya.

It is Continue reading

Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter Launched Today!

We are excited about the momentum behind Ethiopia.

It is a rare moment in any country’s history to undergo such a positive transformation. It’s a time of immense optimism and investment potential. It’s not a surprise as the country also has one of the fastest-growing economies in the region, is strategically placed, and has a young population of over 105 million – half of whom are under the age of 18.

While we’ve been active in the Internet world for many years, the time to start a Chapter in Ethiopia is absolutely now. With that, let me share our “why” and introduce ourselves.

We are the Internet Society Ethiopia Chapter.

The idea of starting an Internet Society Chapter came to us during a workshop in the city of Bahir Dar, where we became conscious of the fact that more than 85% of the Ethiopia population is losing countless opportunities every day because they don’t have access to the Internet. We believe the Internet is for everyone and we are here to work with all people – from communities to businesses to governments and ordinary people to connect the unconnected and create a bigger and stronger Internet in Ethiopia. What drives Continue reading

The Week in Internet News: Let’s Encrypt Hits One Billion Certificates

Encryption wave: Let’s Encrypt, the website encryption project supported by the Internet Society, has issued 1 billion web security certificate, ZDNet reports. About 81 percent of the world’s websites now are secured with Transport Layer Security (TLS) encryption, and Let’s Encrypt, which offers free TLS certificates, now serves nearly 200 million websites.

Even more encryption: In other encryption news, the Firefox browser has begun turning on DNS over HTTPS (DoH) by default for users in the U.S., The Verge says. The encryption tool secures Internet traffic, including browsing histories.

No more WiFi: Google is shutting down a free Wi-Fi service called Station that has served parts of India, Indonesia, South Africa, Mexico, Thailand, Nigeria, Philippines, Brazil and Vietnam. TechCrunch reports. Google says the service is no longer needed because of falling prices for mobile broadband service. Google also struggled to find a business model.

Keep your hands off the network: Employees are increasingly connecting their personal Internet of Things devices, like smart watches and fitness trackers, to corporate networks, according to research by Zscaler, detailed at ZDNet. These unauthorized connections undermine network security. The most connected personal devices included digital home assistants, TV set-top boxes, video cameras, smart-home Continue reading

Is the Internet Resilient Enough to Withstand Coronavirus?

It’s being called the world’s biggest work-from-home experiment. With concerns growing over the spread of the Coronavirus, schools and businesses around the world are implementing contingency plans that encourage distance learning and work from home. Usage of e-learning, messaging, and videoconferencing tools is also growing rapidly, placing additional load on these Internet-based applications and platforms and generating additional traffic. And with more people staying at home, online media consumption is poised to increase as well.

Many are wondering if the Internet can handle the strain of rapid traffic growth and increased latency. Will it cause a catastrophic failure of the Internet? The answer: not likely.

Core Internet infrastructure providers should be able to easily absorb the increase in traffic and demand, especially if the growth is gradual over a period of days, weeks, or months. Cloud infrastructure providers should also have sufficient additional compute, storage, and bandwidth capacity to enable their customers, including the e-learning, messaging, and videoconferencing tool providers, to scale their systems as necessary. In order to keep traffic local, content delivery infrastructure from companies including Akamai, Cloudflare, Google, Netflix, and Apple is deployed in many last-mile networks. Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) can also help keep traffic local, Continue reading

APRICOT 2020: Routing Security Takes Center Stage

More than 600 of the world’s leading Internet engineers from 60 economies gathered last week at APRICOT, and it was encouraging to see routing security take center stage in the largest meeting of the technical community in the region.

The Internet Society is a long-time partner of the annual event, also called the Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on Operational Technologies, and this year we held two community gatherings, spoke in several sessions, and ran a booth throughout the conference.

The ten-day meeting consisted of workshops, tutorials, conference sessions, birds-of-a-feather sessions, and peering forums from 12-21 February in Melbourne, Australia. This year marked the 25th anniversary of APRICOT, and it was good to recognize how the event has grown over time and contributed to technical capacity building in the region. It also gave me the chance to reflect on my own participation in the event over the years, including from when I was in the private sector prior to my current role.

One of the things Internet builders get together for at APRICOT is to share the technical knowledge needed to run and expand the Internet securely. So it was a great opportunity to bring attention to the Mutually Continue reading

The Week in Internet News: ISPs Sue Maine Over New Privacy Law

Protesting privacy: Four ISP trade groups are suing the state of Maine for a privacy law that goes into effect this year, Ars Technica reports. Among other things, the law supposedly violates ISP free speech rights because it limits their ability to advertise to their customers and to offer discounts in exchange for customers’ personal information. The Maine law requires ISPs to get customers’ opt-in consent before using or sharing sensitive data.

DSL over fiber: The California Advanced Services Fund, a program launched in 2008 to connect all Californians to broadband, was an early success, but recent actions in the state legislature have encouraged slow speeds of 6 Mbps and eliminated the fund’s ability to serve public housing already served by slow DSL service, the EFF says in a blog post. “By establishing an abysmally low standard based on DSL technology that made its debut more than a decade ago, the state’s regulator is forced to conclude that basically everyone has useful broadband access today,” the EFF says. “This has kept the state from closing the digital divide.”

It’s getting better: Nigeria is making great strides in getting residents connected to the Internet, the BBC reports. More than Continue reading

NDSS 2020: The Best in Security Research – For the Good of the Internet

On 23 February, the 27th consecutive Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS) kicks off in San Diego, CA. NDSS is a premier academic research conference addressing a wide range of topics on network and system security. It’s an incubator for new, innovative ideas and research on the security and privacy of the Internet.

NDSS 2020 (23-26 February) will be one of the biggest NDSS symposium yet, featuring 88 peer-reviewed academic papers, 34 posters, 5 workshops, and 2 keynotes on vital and timely topics. Here are some of the highlights.

Workshops

This year’s program officially starts with five workshops on Sunday, 23 February. NDSS workshops are organized around a single topic and provide an opportunity for greater dialogue between researchers and practitioners in the area.

The QUIC Privacy and Security (QUIPS) Workshop focuses on QUIC security and privacy analysis efforts. The IETF QUIC protocol is a modern UDP-based, stream-multiplexing, encrypted transport protocol. Inspired by prior art, QUIC’s packet and header encryption removes cleartext information from the network while simultaneously mitigating ossification of version-specific protocol behavior. The goal of the QUIPS workshop is to bring formal analysis results to the IETF working group and developer communities in order to build confidence Continue reading

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