Category Archives: Software

Measuring the Information Society 2013

From: Yona Maro

Over 250 million people came online over the last year, and almost 40 per cent of the world’s population will be using the Internet by end 2013. Mobile technology and services continue to be the key driver of the information society, and the number of mobilebroadband subscriptions is close to 2 billion. Mobile-broadband networks are allowing more people to connect to highspeed networks and benefit from a growing number of applications and services. While both fixed- and mobile-broadband speeds continue to increase, the price of services is falling and ICTs are becoming more affordable: in the space of four years, fixed-broadband prices have dropped by an impressive 82 per cent.

At the same time, the report also shows that ICT uptake remains limited in many developing countries, and particularly in the world’s least connected countries (LCCs) – a group of 39 countries (home to 2.4 billion people) with particularly low levels of ICT development. In this group of countries, ICTs can become key enablers for achieving international and national development goals and have the greatest development impact, and more policy attention needs to be directed towards them.

Young people all over the world are the most active users of ICTs. For the first time, a model has been developed to estimate the number of digital natives – the young people with solid ICT experience who are drivers of the information society. While 30 per cent of the youth population are digital natives today, the report shows that within the next five years, the digital native population in the developing world is expected to double.


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SatADSL to unveil new range of satellite services for African enterprises

From: News Release – African Press Organization (APO)

SatADSL to unveil new range of satellite services for African enterprises

The new services are offered thanks to the new Service Delivery Platform developed under SatFinAfrica, and ARTES 3-4 Satcom Application project co-funded by the European Space Agency-ESA

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, November 11, 2013/ — Belgium-based satellite service provider, SatADSL ( is set to launch its new range of services for professional users at the AFRICACOM Conference, slated for tomorrow at Cape Town Convention Centre.

Logo SatADSL:

Logo ESA:

Video SatADSL:



The new services will allow to provide high quality communications and Internet connectivity with guaranteed performances to corporate offices, bank agencies, mining sites and all similar medium-size exploitations in Sub-Saharan Africa where terrestrial communication services are either not available, unreliable or too expensive.

The new services are offered thanks to the new Service Delivery Platform developed under SatFinAfrica, and ARTES 3-4 Satcom Application project co-funded by the European Space Agency-ESA*. The new Service Delivery Platform provides SatADSL with complete control over the definition and enforcement of its service profiles and paves the way for building tailor-made services. The new platform provides to SatADSL the flexibility that is required to serve the complex requirements of the African telecom operators and ISPs who are offering the service locally and are willing to propose various options that meet their customer specific requirements and budget.

Speaking ahead of the conference, SatADSL Chief Technology Officer Fulvio Sansone said “the new Service Delivery Platform is a cornerstone in the company development”.

“Companies in Sub-Saharan Africa are often confronted to limited coverage and reliability of terrestrial telecommunications means. Especially outside of urban and coastal areas where the population is less dense, telecommunication links may not be as reliable as needed by professional users. That is where SatADSL comes in with specialised, but at the same time affordable, services for the professional market. This market segment requires customised services, often with guaranteed data rates. SatADSL is now in a position to offer a complete range of services and become a one-stop-shop for its customers for services from low-cost transaction-based or back-up to unlimited services” he said.

The new services have been successfully demonstrated and are now being launched commercially all over Sub-Saharan Africa in cooperation with SatADSL local partners. They allow medium-size offices and corporate branches to get connectivity, Internet access and voice over IP with guaranteed performances wherever they are located. Using the same low-cost, self-installable, Sat3Play hardware, users will be able to choose among a wide range of Unlimited, Contended Services, as well as the previously available Fair Usage Policy based Services.

SatADSL delivers and manage customer’s mission-critical communications with end to end solutions, integrated technologies and flexible service options. SatADSL is a premium partner of SES and Newtec respectively leading satellite operator and equipment manufacturer. SatADSL is already offering reliable and low-cost satellite networking solutions and operates close to 1000 terminals across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Caroline De Vos, Chief Operations Officer, and Thierry Eltges, Chief Executive Officer, will welcome the visitors, potential partner-distributors and customers at the company stand P14 located in the exhibition area of the conference.

* The view expressed herein is independent of ESA’s official opinion.


Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of SatADSL S.A.

Media contact:
Caroline De Vos

General Inquiry:
T: +32 2 880 82 70

About SatADSL:

SatADSL ( is a satellite service provider offering low cost transactional, Internet access and VoIP service to branch offices of companies located in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The company is seated in Brussels, Belgium, and offers Internet access by satellite in Africa since 2010. Hundreds of African companies use SatADSL service in over 15 different countries in Africa. A money transfer company is connecting together more than 100 of their branches offices thanks to SatADSL.

SatADSL new satellite communication service in Africa is unique because it combines very high-quality service with a low cost of equipment and subscriptions. Corporate users operating in remote areas require both service quality guaranteed by SLAs and affordability. SatADSL service offer is recognized in Africa as being a unique competitive offer for serving companies small branch offices performing business-critical transactions.

SatADSL teams up with highly qualified African partners who offer a high-quality service to professional end-users, spanning from Mali to South Africa. SatADSL distribution network is expanding every day.

Meet SatADSL

SatADSL ( will be present at AFRICACOM, Cape Town, 12-14 November 2013 – Stand P14.


Alliance for Affordable Internet launches to stimulate global policy reform to lower access costs to users

From: News Release – African Press Organization (APO)

Alliance for Affordable Internet launches to stimulate global policy reform to lower access costs to users

Global sponsors Google, Omidyar Network, UK DFID and USAID joined by a host of governments, tech companies and civil society organisations from developed and developing countries in launch of new initiative, backed by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee

ABUJA, Nigeria, October 7, 2013/ — Today, a diverse group of private and public sector players came together to launch the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI –, a coalition to lead policy and regulatory reform and spur action to drive down artificially high internet prices in developing countries. By advocating for open, competitive and innovative broadband markets, A4AI aims to help access prices fall to below 5% of monthly income worldwide, a target set by the UN Broadband Commission. Reaching this goal can help to connect the two-thirds of the world that is presently not connected to the internet (source: ITU) and make universal access a reality.


Photo: (Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) executive director, Sonia Jorge)

A4AI’s 30+ members reach across boundaries of geography, industry, and organisation type and include governments, companies, and civil society organisations from both developed and developing countries. Members share a belief that that policy reform, underpinned by robust research and genuine knowledge-sharing, is one of the best ways to unlock rapid gains in internet penetration rates. The Alliance was initiated by the World Wide Web Foundation (, and its honorary chairperson is DrBitangeNdemo, the immediate former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communications, who is widely regarded as the father of Broadband in Kenya.

A4AI has a strong focus on action and announced the following plans today at the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation’s Annual Forum in Abuja, Nigeria, witnessed by communications ministers, policy makers and industry leaders from around the globe:

? The Alliance will begin in-country engagements with three to four States by the end of 2013, expanding to at least twelve countries by the end of 2015.

? Members have committed to a set of policy best practices (enclosed) that will guide advocacy work at the international level. Key policy levers to drive prices down include allowing innovative allocation of spectrum, promoting infrastructure sharing, and increasing transparency and public participation in regulatory decisions.

? A4AI will produce an annual ‘Affordability Report’, with the first edition being unveiled in December 2013.

Commenting, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the Web and founder of the World Wide Web Foundation said:

“The reason for the Alliance is simple – the majority of the world’s people are still not online, usually because they can’t afford to be. In Mozambique, for example, a recent study showed that using just 1GB of data can cost well over two months wages for the average citizen.

“The result of high prices is a widening digital divide that slows progress in vital areas such as health, education and science. Yet with the advent of affordable smartphones, new undersea cables and innovations in wireless spectrum usage, there is simply no good reason for the digital divide to continue. The real bottleneck now is anti-competitive policies and regulations that keep prices unaffordable. The Alliance is about removing that barrier and helping as many as possible get online at reasonable cost.”

DrBitangeNdemo, honorary chairperson of A4AI, added:

“In Kenya, we saw the number of internet users more than double in a single year after we liberalised markets. Now we need to spark the same revolution on broadband costs and access, not only in my country but around the world. To achieve this, we will use our combined voices, leadership and expertise to press for fair, competitive and socially responsible markets.”

Quotes from Global Sponsors of A4AI

Jennifer Haroon, Access Principal at Google, said:

“Nearly two out of every three people don’t have access to the Internet – this is a massive challenge that can’t easily be solved by a single solution or player. The world needs technical innovation and vision to bring more people online, but we also need a strong policy foundation that allows new ideas to flourish. By working alongside Alliance partners, we can help lay the groundwork needed to drive innovation and bring the power of the Internet to more people.”

Ory Okolloh, director of investments, Omidyar Network, added:

“The lack of affordable internet access in emerging markets is a key barrier to large-scale innovation, which in turn stifles social and economic advancement. Omidyar Network is delighted to help lead the formation of the Alliance for Affordable Internet to address this problem. The Alliance has the potential to help millions of people in the developing world come online, unlocking opportunities for them to access information and services that can meaningfully improve their lives.”

Dr. Rajiv Shah, administrator of USAID said:

“The growing digital divide is a global issue that can only be tackled collaboratively, and we are thrilled to be working with the diverse and committed group of the Alliance for Affordable Internet to enable even the most remote and impoverished communities to access the wealth of knowledge and connection that exists in the digital world.”

Professor Tim Unwin, Secretary General, Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation:

“In a world where information sharing and communication is increasingly dominated by the internet, it is essential that everyone should have access to it at prices they can afford. The rapid expansion of all types of ICTs is nevertheless currently leading to ever-greater inequalities in the world, and so the creation of the Alliance for Affordable Internet is timely and important. By working together in carefully crafted partnerships, we can seek to redress this balance and turn rhetoric into reality.”

Download the Full List of Alliance Members:

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the World Wide Web Foundation.


Dillon Mann, Senior Communications Adviser, World Wide Web Foundation / + 44 203 289 7261 / Twitter: @dillonmann

Gabe Trodd, Communications Adviser, World Wide Web Foundation / + 44 7730 522980 / Skype: gabe784

Photographs and interviews available on request.

Further Information

Affordability Facts and Figures

(All from ITU report ICT Facts and Figures 2013 ( unless otherwise cited)

? In the developing world, 31% of the population is online, compared with 77% in the developed world.

? 90% of the 1.1 billion households not connected to the Internet are in the developing world.

? In Africa, 16% of people are using the Internet – only half the penetration rate of Asia and the Pacific.

? Between 2009 and 2013, Internet penetration in households has grown fastest in Africa, with annual growth of 27%, followed by 15% annual growth in Asia and the Pacific, the Arab States and the CIS.

? The gender gap is more pronounced in the developing world, where 16% fewer women than men use the Internet, compared with only 2% fewer women than men in the developed world. A recent report from Intel ( suggests that women are 43% less likely to have access to the internet in sub-Saharan Africa, 33% in South Asia, and 34% in Middle East and North Africa.

? In Africa, less than 10% of fixed (wired) broadband subscriptions offer speeds of at least 2 Mbit/s. This is also the case of several countries in Asia and the Pacific, the Americas and some Arab States.

? Over the past five years, fixed-broadband prices as a share of GNI per capita dropped by 82%. By 2012, fixed- broadband prices represented 1.7% of monthly GNI p.c. in developed countries. In developing countries, fixed- broadband services remain expensive, accounting for 30.1% of average monthly incomes.

Notes to Editors

The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) ( is a global coalition committed to driving down the cost of internet access in less developed countries.

A4AI focuses on creating the conditions for open, efficient and competitive broadband markets via policy and regulatory reform. Through a combination of advocacy, research and knowledge-sharing, the Alliance aims to facilitate the achievement of the UN Broadband Commission target of entry-level broadband services priced at less than 5% of average monthly income. In doing so, A4AI will help to connect the two-thirds of people in developing countries who cannot access the internet.

A4AI members are drawn from both developed and less developed countries and include public, private and not-for-profit organizations. The World Wide Web Foundation (, founded by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, initiated the Alliance. Global sponsors are Google, Omidyar Networks, USAID and the UK DFID and the Alliance has more than 30 members.

For more, please visit:

World Wide Web Foundation

Who’s not online and why

From: Yona Maro

As of May 2013, 15% of American adults ages 18 and older do not use the internet or email.

Asked why they do not use the internet:

• 34% of non-internet users think the internet is just not relevant to them, saying they are not interested, do not want to use it, or have no need for it.

• 32% of non-internet users cite reasons tied to their sense that the internet is not very easy to use. These non-users say it is difficult or frustrating to go online, they are physically unable, or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware, and hackers. This figure is considerably higher than in earlier surveys.

• 19% of non-internet users cite the expense of owning a computer or paying for an internet connection.

• 7% of non-users cited a physical lack of availability or access to the internet.

Even among the 85% of adults who do go online, experiences connecting to the internet may vary widely. For instance, even though 76% of adults use the internet at home, 9% of adults use the internet but lack home access. These internet users cite many reasons for not having internet connections at home, most often relating to issues of affordability—some 44% mention financial issues such as not having a computer, or having a cheaper option outside the home.


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Hackers invade CJ Willy Mutunga communication channels, judiciary promises to act

From: Gordon Teti


For a while now, the Judiciary has been grappling with the vulnerability of its communication, which has manifested itself in hacked e-mail accounts, the tapping of telephones, secret taping of meetings and the doctoring of official documents. The prevalence of these surveillance tactics has concerned the institution a great deal.

This country has fought long and hard to eliminate the culture of fear. Many people have paid a heavy price to eliminate this culture of being gratuitously spied on. In the past, reports have been made to the National Intelligence Service about people hacking into the Chief Justice’s Twitter account; and his email account has similarly been hacked in the past.

Keen to prevent the entrenchment of a mini police state within the institution, various efforts have been made to test whether or not the communication infrastructure in the Judiciary is secure. It cannot be normal that meetings are secretly taped, telephone conversations are habitually tapped and the email account of the Chief Justice – the head of an arm of government – can be routinely hacked.

The Judiciary leadership is determined to eliminate this surveillance culture by closing in on the small, cowardly and criminal enterprise that believes that it can violate official and private communication at will. Anyone who can hack an email can also doctor documents, and is essentially a criminal who deserves to be dealt with in accordance with the law.

This level of investment in surveillance is a clear indication of an overwhelming desire to control all communication. It also suggests that those behind it have something sinister to hide. It is a brazen attempt to take the institution hostage for financial, political, and administrative interests. Even judicial consultation and decisions would be at risk if this culture persists.

Whereas there are ongoing actions to review and audit the institution’s information and technology systems, the Judiciary is also investigating possible acts of criminality arising from the prevailing circumstances. The content of the statements published in a section of the media in reference to ongoing investigations within the Judiciary will not draw comment for now.

Indeed, as everyone is aware, the Judicial Service Commission has scrupulously followed due process and studiously avoided issuing statements on these investigations to steer clear of prejudicing the public interest or private reputations.

The Judiciary leadership is determined to conclude this matter in the right forum, and not to try any issue in the media.

Kwamchesti Makokha
Communication Office
Office of the Chief Justice

NOTE from the desk of Gordon Teti
It is payback time for the “six people” who presided over the presidential election petition at the Supreme Court following the contested Kenya presidential elections in March 2013. Surely, whoever said choices have consequences! Mutunga and his team are reaping the benefits of endorsing a rigged presidential victory.

Is online transparency just a feel-good sham?

From: Yona Maro

Years after politicians and government officials began using Internet surveys and online outreach as tools to engage people, the results overall have been questionable.

While there is no doubt that online advocacy works in campaigns, critics say that many of these government programs are geared simply to perpetuate the feel-good notion that Americans can participate more directly, with few tangible results to argue that they work. Programs that are rigged to provide partisan responses, or to gather donor information, have raised more questions still.

Some programs do draw large numbers of participants—and all the problems that come with it. When it began, the White House’s We the People site required 25,000 signatures within 30 days to get a response from the administration. That threshold was increased to 100,000, on the heels of a bombardment of petitions, including ones for the Death Star effort.

Topics of petitions have run from the serious to the ridiculous. For example, earlier this month the White House rejected a petition idea that called for establishing a “Gun Free Zone” around the president, vice president, and their families, which would mean no armed security. The petition was seen as the product of an organized effort by gun-rights advocates, angered by the president’s gun-control efforts following the Newtown, Conn., shootings.


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Cyber-espionage: The greatest transfer of wealth

From: Yona Maro

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– – – – – – – – – – –

By: Pierluigi Paganini


In recent months, the world-wide security community has discovered many cyber espionage campaigns that hit governments, intelligence agencies and private industry. The majority of them were related to state-sponsored hackers, while others were organized by groups of cyber criminals having obtaining access in order to resell sensitive information and intellectual property.

There is no specific area of the globe subject to the majority of cyber espionage attacks. Typically, they center on the most technologically advanced countries: the US, Japan and Russia, mostly. But a good number of operations have also been detected in problematic regions like the Middle East as well.

The technologies used to spy on victims, and the motivations behind them vary. Network surveillance appliances, communication cracking techniques, malware and “social network poisoning” are just a few of the methods adopted for political, economic or criminal intents. Profit, power and protest are the main motivations behind the attacks, radically affecting a user’s approach to the web and its perception of security.

Cybercrime groups, governments, and groups of hacktivists tend to lean toward the spread of malicious agents that have the capacity to silently infiltrate their targets, stealing confidential information from them. The Chinese government is considered the biggest aggressor in cyber espionage, while US networks are the privileged targets of cyber attacks that hit every sector, from media to military.

A report published in 2012 by the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission revealed that “U.S. industry and a range of government and military targets face repeated exploitation attempts by Chinese hackers, as do international organizations and nongovernmental groups including Chinese dissident groups, activists, religious organizations, rights groups, and media institutions.”

“In 2012, Chinese state-sponsored actors continued to exploit U.S. government, military, industrial, and nongovernmental computer systems,”

The report revealed that Chinese cyber exploitation capabilities last year were “improving significantly.” But while the US has as many enemies as allies, all of us in the cyber era are potential victims. The number of state-sponsored attacks is increasing in impressive ways, due to the commitment of governments to cyber technology.

According to the last report of F-Secure related to H2 2012, one of the most interesting phenomena observed in the period is the changing of techniques for cyber espionage campaigns. To this point, almost all recorded corporate espionage cases were based on using specially-crafted documents containing a malware payload; meanwhile, in Q4, the attackers have started to exploit vulnerabilities in in web browsers and browser plugins.

The consolidated technique known as the ‘watering hole‘ attack was the most efficient for cyber spies, capable of infecting every visitor of a particular website compromised for the campaign.

“The rise of web-based attacks in corporate espionage raises two points: first, this trend means that any corporation with an online presence that serves such potentially ‘interesting’ targets may be at risk of unwittingly serving as an attack conduit, and secondly; obviously, such organizations must now find a way to mitigate such a risk, in order to protect themselves and their clients.”

Figure 1 – Waterering Hole attacks (F-Secure)
Every company that manages online resources must be aware of this technique of attack. Defending against watering hole attacks does not require additional defense systems, save for attacks that exploit zero-day vulnerabilities against which a multi layered security approach is necessary.

Cyber espionage Statistics
Estimating the real impact of cyber espionage on the global economy is quite impossible, due to the difficulty in identifying the majority of cyber attacks accounted for in each sector.

NSA Director General Keith Alexander called cyber-espionage “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.“Symantec places the cost of intellectual property theft for U.S. economy at $250 billion a year, with cybercrime a further $114 billion annually. Meanwhile, McAfee provides an estimate encompassing global remediation costs to total a staggering $1 trillion per annum.

The UK Cabinet Office reports intellectual property theft and industrial espionage costs of £16.8 billion in 2012. The 2012 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) reported 855 security breach incidents in industrial and corporate networks, totaling 174 million compromised records across the US, UK, Holland, Ireland and Australia. Of these 855 incidents investigated by the DBIR, 92% went undiscovered until an external party revealed them.

The figures provided are very troubling. While enormous, we must remain conscious that the true extent of cyber-espionage is incalculable. Private companies and governments often do not report losses because in many cases, they aren’t able to detect the attacks. When the cyber espionage campaigns are discovered, information on them may be kept secret for fear of brand and/or reputation damage, company devaluation and loss of public confidence.

In many cases, estimates provided on the impact of cyber espionage don’t include the cost of defense systems deployed (and eluded by the cyber threats), as well as the cost of compensation and remediation actions of the victims.

Case Studies: Operations Aurora, The Elderwood project, Flame and Red October
If you ask a security expert to provide some examples of the most interesting cyber espionage campaigns in the history, you will probably hear about some of the following cases:

Campaign Name Description

Operation Aurora Operation Aurora was a cyber attack first publicly disclosed by Google on January 2010. It began in mid-2009 and continued through the end of the year.Google revealed that the sophisticated attacks originated in China, they were well-resourced and consistent with an advanced persistent threat attack.The attacks were aimed at dozens of organizations operating in various sectors, including Adobe Systems, Juniper Networks, Yahoo, Symantec, Northrop Grumman, Morgan Stanley and Dow Chemical.

The Elderwood project In September 2012, Symantec detected attacks that were part of a cyber espionage campaign called the “Elderwood Project.” Their execution exploited various 0-day vulnerabilities in many large-use software including IExplorer and Adobe Flash Player. Symantec declared that some of the exploits had been realized from knowledge of a stolen source code, assuming a link with the known operation, Aurora. The attacks implemented “watering hole” techniques to infect the victims with malware, injecting malicious code onto the public web pages of sites that the targets visited.

Flame The Flame campaign was discovered in May 2012 by Kaspersky Labs. The nature of the systems targeted and geographic distribution of the malware (the Middle East), combined with the high-level of sophistication led security experts to believe that it was developed by a foreign state, intent on hitting a specific country in the region. Flame is a complex malware, designed with the primary intent to create a comprehensive cyber espionage tool kit.

Red October Most recently, the Red October campaign has been revealed by Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research & Analysis Team. The investigation began after several attacks hit computer networks of various international diplomatic service agencies. This was a large-scale cyber espionage operation conducted to acquire sensible information from diplomatic, governmental and scientific research organizations in many countries; most of them in Eastern Europe, former USSR states and countries in Central Asia.Unlike previous cyber espionage campaigns, Red October has targeted devices, including enterprise network equipment and mobile equipment (Windows Mobile, iPhone, Nokia). It hijacked files from removable disk drives, stole e-mail databases from local Outlook storage or remote POP/IMAP servers and siphoned files from local network FTP servers.Most troubling was evidence collected that demonstrated the campaign began in 2007 and is still active. During the last 5 years, a huge quantity of data collected (including serv
ice credentials) has been reused in later attacks.

Reading the list of cases, one observes that many cyber espionage campaigns remained undetected for a long time. Resourceful attackers in fact used, in many cases, zero-day vulnerabilities that allowed them to elude detection by principal defense systems. In some instances, the hackers have stolen documents and sensitive information for years, changing the operative mode over time. This particularity led investigators to believe that the campaigns were organized and managed by groups of professionals possessing a variety of skills, including research capabilities to uncover and exploit unknown vulnerabilities.

On the Elderwood operation, Orla Cox, a senior manager at Symantec’s security response division, reported that it has uncovered at least eight zero-day vulnerabilities since late 2010, and four since last spring. She said:

“We were amazed when Stuxnet used four zero-days, but this group has been able to discover eight zero-days. More, the fact that they have prepared [their attacks] and are ready to go as soon as they have a new zero-day, and the speed with which they use these zero-days, is something we’ve not seen before.”

Symantec produced a detailed analysis of the phenomenon, stating:

“This group is focused on wholesale theft of intellectual property and clearly has the resources, in terms of manpower, funding, and technical skills, required to implement this task,”

“The group seemingly has an unlimited supply of zero-day vulnerabilities.”

The level of sophistication of the attacks, the targets chosen and abilities shown by the attackers suggest the commitment of a foreign government. Moreover, security experts believe that in many cases, the campaigns are linked each other, citing the case of Operation Aurora and the Elderwood project. With a majority of attacks linked to state-sponsored actors capable of organizing so complex an operation, the investigation on Red October revealed the possible involvement of Russian RBN, long considered a cybercrime outfit capable of providing an array of malicious services, including phishing, DDoS, malware hosting, gambling and child pornography.

Figure 2 – Elderwood project global detections

Cyber espionage and private businesses

Small business is the most vulnerable to cyber espionage. It represents an attractive target, due the lack of security mechanisms and processes as well as – in many cases – the direct relationship between enterprises and governments. In recent years, the number of attacks against government contractors has increased. A cyber attack against a subcontractor is easy to realize, as the line of defense penetrated is often fragile, allowing the attackers to acquire sensitive information from targets of interest.

Last year, Trend Micro reported an increase of focused attacks. Hundreds of millions threats were blocked from infecting small businesses, but large companies proved equally vulnerable, having been hit as part of the IXSHE campaign.

A recent study on cyber-espionage has demonstrated that more than 200 families of malware have been designed and used to spy on government and corporate representatives.We have assisted the diffusion of new agents that work in botnet architectures, as new variants – designed especially for mobile devices – are specifically developed for selected targets.

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The primary intent of cyber espionage is to steal classified information from government agencies or trade secrets from corporations. This situation can be extremely dangerous for the economy of a company, as well as that of the overall country. As governments and businesses alike are motivated to reduce the technological gap with their competitors, it’s clear how diffused the phenomenon is.

Cyber espionage can have a devastating effect on the social fabric of a nation as well as on the actions of every private company. It is sneaky and silent: unlike other crimes, it may be conducted for years without the victim being aware of it with serious consequences. This happened in the case of Nortel, a company which ended up in bankruptcy due to the theft of company secrets.

Last year, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive published a report to Congress, presenting a frightening picture of the degree to which other countries use cyber espionage to attempt to gain business and industrial secrets from US companies. The biggest cyber-espionage threats against American businesses come from China and Russia. These states engage in deliberate efforts to obtain sensitive business and technology information. The report concludes that China and Russia will “remain aggressive and capable collectors of sensitive US economic information and technologies, particularly in cyberspace.”

“National boundaries will deter economic espionage less than ever as more business is conducted from wherever workers can access the Internet,””The globalization of the supply chain for new—and increasingly interconnected—IT products will offer more opportunities for malicious actors to compromise the integrity and security of?these devices.”

The document called the Chinese government a “persistent collector”: the most active one, while depicting Russia’s intelligence services as conducting a range of activities to collect economic information and technology from US targets.

The increased number of malwares developed by governments to spy on their adversaries (such as Flame, Gauss and Duqu, as well as the recent “Operation Beebus” campaign) demonstrate the high interest of intelligence agencies to implement these methods to acquire restricted information.

Recently, MI5 issued 300 warning letters to UK business leaders highlighting the risk of “electronic espionage” from Chinese organizations. MI5 Director General Jonathan Evans declared that an “astonishing[ly]” high level of cyber-espionage campaign target Western countries on an almost industrial scale.”

The number of corporate victims underscores a troubling trend: criminals aiming to steal corporate secrets and intellectual property with the intent to benefit in economic terms. The information leaked is usually resold to competing companies and governments interested in strategic know-how.

We must distinguish two scenarios:

Cybercriminals steal information to perpetrate cyber fraud: spreading malware to steal a user’s credentials for banking and payment platforms.

Cybercriminals use technology to acquire sensible information to sell to highest bidder.

Uri Rivner, head of new technologies at RSA, is convinced that we are in the age of cyber espionage. Criminals steal trade secrets from other nations and companies for their own benefit. Consider another phenomenon: the impressive growth of internet availability in Asia Pacific, which has brought to this part of the world an increase of cybercrime and in particular of cyber espionage.

In this area, there is a growing demand for information technology that is often vulnerable to all sorts of cyber attack. These conditions make the market attractive to criminal organizations in the absence of effective regulations that often allow crimes to go unpunished.

The web is a jungle where it is increasingly difficult to defend our identity and resources. Rik Ferguson, director of security research and communication, Trend Micro declared:

“The reason why criminals are focusing their attacks on stealing personal data is simple. It’s the sheer volume of people working from multiple devices that leaves them vulnerable to attacks,”

“While Trend Micro has been integral in working with authorities to break up a number of cybercriminal rings over the last year, these cybercriminals have acquired new techniques and tools from collaborating with one another to accelerate their ‘industry.’ The fact is: business is booming for cybercrime and everyone needs to take notice.”

In the face of these ongoing threats, government agencies are defining best practices to reduce the risk of exposure to these attacks. NIST has recently made public their Draft Special Publication 800-83 (SP) Revision 1,Guide to Malware Incident Prevention and Handling for Desktops and Laptops. Malware is considered the most common external threat to personal computers, causing widespread damage and disruption and necessitating extensive recovery efforts within most organizations.

The publication provides recommendations for improving an organization’s malware incident prevention measures, while giving extensive recommendations for enhancing an organization’s existing incident response capability. These approaches seek to better handle malware incidents, particularly widespread ones.

Though cyber espionage as such is not considered one of the main activities of hacktivists, thoughtful security experts don’t rule out the possibility. Groups such as Anonymous could easily adopt cyber espionage techniques to disclose sensitive information as a means of expressing dissent against a government or the policy of a private company.

When cyber espionage is deployed in the private sector (where companies spy on competitors, as well as their own employees, to capture vital information or to avoid unauthorized diffusion of confidential data), they acquire products from software outfits specializing in cyber espionage. The tools may be designed for justifiable purposes, such as supporting investigations and preventing of crime and terrorism. But too easily, they can be utilized by private businesses to undercut competitors, as well as by governments, in the bloodthirsty tracking and persecution of dissidents.

Social Media and cyber espionage

So far, this article has focused on cyber espionage based on the spread of malicious agents to gather confidential information. Also of great interest is cyber espionage as spread through social media. By accessing a social network profile, it is possible to acquire a lot of information on the victim; their relations; participation in events and discussions related to specific professional areas. The information gleaned could provide the basis for other types of attacks, as well as for a large cyber espionage campaign. By analyzing the relationships of a victim, it is possible to discover past experiences and use the data to create fake accounts, damaging their reputation and poisoning their professional network.

Starting with the assumption that the internet (and in particular, the social network) lacks a coherent and safe digital identity management, last year, I introduced the concept of social network poisoning: applying strategies designed to make knowledge related to a profile and its relationships unreliable. The application of this on a large scale could lead to the collapse of Social Networking, exposing members to the risks of cyber espionage and other cybercrime such as identity theft.

In the same way as “route poisoning,” this “poisoning action,” conducted with the aim of polluting the contents of social network profiles, typically introduces artifacts into existing real relationships, thus making the information unreliable. The result is the failure of the chain of trust which all social networks are based on, in order not to allow search engines specifically developed to retrieve information of any kind relating to a particular profile.

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The principal espionage techniques implemented through social media platform are:

Replacement of identity, or the ability to impersonate another user, using a wide variety of social engineering intelligence tactics.

Simulation of identity, creating a false profile, which does not correspond to any existing person, for malicious purposes or simply to remain anonymous.

Building of personal /social bots , creating a large number of fake profiles (e.g. millions of fake profiles) managed by machines, able to interact with real users in a way likely, thus changing the “sentiment” and “conversation” on a large-scale, as well as altering all the social graphs and precluding meaningful correlations on the data.

black curation: the use of real (or fictitious) user’s “holes” to speak on topics of which you want to change the meaning, or to create new ones ad-hoc, in analogy to the black SEO (search engine optimization) already use on search engines.

The social networks are excellent instruments to conduct cyber espionage campaigns while gathering information on targets. For this reason, it is strongly suggested that you consider carefully which profiles to add to our network, recognizing the possibility that some of them have been already compromised. This gives cyber criminals or spies the possibility of accessing information shared in the profile.

The intelligence industry in the west is still too vulnerable to all kinds of attacks, so it is absolutely necessary to define cyber strategies to deal with incidents like those described.

Last year, the impressive growth of state-sponsored attacks aimed at stealing information (to give economic, political and military advantages) famously included the cyber espionage campaign against NATO’S most senior commander, using the Facebook platform.

Chinese spies set up a fake Facebook account in the name of American Admiral James Stavridis, enticing his colleagues to “friend” him and thus divulge their own personal information. In the attack’s second phase, Senior British military officers and Ministry of Defence officials accepted “friend requests” from the bogus account.

With this attack successfully completed, it became possible to steal sensitive information like private email accounts, photos and messages, as well as uncover his network of friends. Similar incidents are troubling, and show how even the higher echelons of strategic commands may be vulnerable, too.

If you think the information uncovered in this way is unimportant, you are mistaken. Let’s think about how it can be used to find photos of a victim’s residence, or determine his location at a given time. Further, with the knowledge of their private email account, it is possible to target people close to victims who may be misled by fake mails.

Of course, similar operations are hampered by the controls enacted by the managers of social networks, in collaboration with major institutions and law enforcement. The stakes are high and control of social networks is strategic. Many agencies and law enforcement agencies like the FBI are working to prevent such crimes. They’ve commissioned the development of complex analysis systems that monitor the powerful networks. Intelligence agencies are aware that social networks and forums are exceptional instruments for information gathering and to measure the global sentiment on every kind of argument; political as well as social.

What is the future of cyber espionage?

The relentless spread of high-tech devices into our lives will sustain the practice of cyber espionage. Mobile and social networks are the platforms that attract the interest of attackers most of all, due to the large quantity of user’s information they manage. New advanced toolkits are sold daily via the underground, usable to exploit vulnerabilities inside victim’s machine with the primary purpose of installing malware that can gather confidential information.

From a government perspective, state-sponsored research aims to produce new technologies, able to infiltrate common-use objects. The most innovative ones relate to the use of electromagnetic waves that could spy on a targeted network or interfere with communications, altering the content of transmission (for example, introducing a malware in it).

That is the future of cyber espionage: the possibility of interfering with targeted systems remotely, acquiring sensitive information silently. Another interesting field of research is related to the “intelligence of things”: the possibility of exploiting the computational capabilities contained in every object surrounding us, interacting with users maintaining a huge quantity of information. Mobile devices, but really, any kind of appliance present in our home (such as smart-TV and gaming console) can be used to spy on the user. Governments have instituted an array of projects to exploit the vulnerabilities.

The greater the technological component of our lives, the greater the potential for cyber attacks.


Technology Pioneers 2014

From: Yona Maro

This year, the World Economic Forum is pleased to present 36 leading start-ups selected as Technology Pioneers 2014. The class is particularly diverse, providing new solutions to a number of challenges, including technologies for a greener and more sustainable planet; the deployment of precise and targeted therapies in the treatment of cancer and other diseases; the rethinking and redesign of how we deliver education; a robotics renaissance; the creation of a more personalized Internet experience; and the initiation of a “sharing” economy, to name a few.

These companies have been evaluated by a committee of world-renowned experts and selected due to their demonstrative vision and leadership, potential for growth and innovative ideas, as well as their impact on society and business. As World Economic Forum “New Champions”, Technology Pioneer companies carry opportunities for growth, generate innovative technologies and solutions for unresolved or longstanding problems and, ultimately, help redefine new possibility frontiers.


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Digital News Report 2013

From: Yona Maro

This study has been commissioned by the Reuters Institute to understand how news is being consumed in a range of countries. News is becoming more mobile, more social, and more real-time. This year’s survey reveals continuing shifts in how, when, and where people access the news, with digital patterns becoming more entrenched – particularly amongst the younger half of the population.

Audiences increasingly want news on any device, in any format, and at any time of day. But our survey reveals that the multi-platform and digital revolution is not proceeding at an even pace in all countries. What happens in the US does not necessary follow automatically in Europe or elsewhere. Geography, culture, and government policy also play their part, with Germany and France still showing strong allegiance to traditional forms of media.

We also see marked differences in ‘participatory cultures’, with very different rates of take up in social media, commenting, and voting across our surveyed countries. For traditional brands – and especially newspapers –these changes bring ever-greater competition and more disruption to business models. But this year’s survey offers some signs of hope for those investing in original news content. More people say they’ve paid for digital news in the past 10 months and we have data for the first time about the types and frequency of digital payment. Traditional brands continue to attract the largest online audiences and we find that trust in news brands remains uniquely valued by young and old.


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From: Ouko joachim omolo
The News Dispatch with Omolo Beste

As High Court judges Richard Mwongo, Weldon Korir and Mumbi Ngugi rule tomorrow whether Kethi Diana Kilonzo’s name should be on the ballot paper for the Makueni by-election, most Kenyans have already concluded that the ruling will be in favour of Uhuru’s TNA party.

As former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka claimed, IEBC is TNA and TNA is IEBC, according to this Electronic Footprint-SHOCKING: TNA Was IEBC According to this Electronic Footprint …, the data shows a shocking manner how IEBC and Jubilee used the electronic data to rig the elections.

Using data provided by a source at Kencall, TNA was IEBC. TNA used 21 data entry clerks at to enter data both in its server and the server of IEBC through a backdoor entry provided by Kencall.

The server (KENCALL IP: numbers.1.numbers.40) running Windows Server 200x gave access to the 21 data entry clerks employed by TNA. The same data entry clerks, receiving calls from TNA agents, entered data into IEBC database.

The IEBC database had 16 columns including a column called User-ID- which had who among the 21 data clerks entered the data. The TNA database called (MARKET RACE) was also hosted on this same server but it lacked the User_ID column.

This shows clearly that IEBC is TNA and TNA is IEBC. That is why TNA was able to allege that Kethis was not a registered voter, hence ruling out the clearance by IEBC for Kethi to vie for Makueni by-election. Otherwise if TNA was not IEBC then how could it know that?

Against the background that Kenyans have already made their conclusion that tomorrow’s ruling by all means must be in favour of TNA. This has been deliberately done according to Kalonzo because democracy in Kenya continues to be on trial.

According to Kalonzo this was evident during the petition that challenged the flawed presidential results of the March 4th 2013 general election, which due to obvious reasons, the Supreme Court of Kenya upheld, much to the dissatisfaction of the millions of Kenyan population.

Because TNA is IEBC, is why her name could easily be deleted from the voters list. The IEBC had no any other alternative but to withdraw her name from Makueni senatorial race. Remember, this is the same IEBC which cleared her for the seat.

The advice to TNA that Kethi should not vie for Makueni came from Charity Ngilu who instead wants Narc aspirant Prof Philip Kaloki to capture Makueni seat. Ngilu who was given a land docket ministry by Uhuru Kenyatta earlier had proposed the widow of Mutula Kilonzo, Nduku, attempt that didn’t bear fruits.

Ngilu was being sought by the Jubilee Coalition to bar a very strong candidate from the race because they obviously feared her strong candidacy on Wiper Democratic Movement, which is a CORD affiliate.

One of our readers also wanted to know why former Kibwezi Member of Parliament, Agnes Ndetei is being used as messenger to fight on behalf of Jubilee Coalition to frustrate Kethi. I have two reasons; one, for it not to appear as if it was a Kikuyu war; two, to appear that Kalonzo is being fought by fellow kamba.

Most Kenyans have also stated categorically through social media that Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and Kenyan Judiciary cannot be trusted because they belong to the same feather.

The big challenge here is of course, which electoral commission can be trusted if it is true they go according to the government wish? Where then will you get a “truly independent Judiciary” composed of men and women of integrity to regain the confidence of Kenyans as an institution of last resort in handling election disputes?

Wise judges like Justice Isaac Lenaola who do not want to tarnish their reputations had to pull out of the case. Lenaola says he is uncomfortable hearing the case filed by Kethi Kilonzo who wants to be reinstated to vie for the Makueni seat. This case is based on dirty politics and can spoil you good reputation as a judge.

Lenaola who disqualified himself from hearing the suit, had last week on Thursday ruled that the file be placed before the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga in order to constitute a three judge bench to handle the case.

Yet, to date the electoral commission has failed to furnish Parliament with the final results of the March 4 General Election. Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati claims that several commissioners and senior members of the commission’s secretariat have refused to append their signatures to the results fearing a backlash from the public.

This brings the doubt of sincerity of the IEBC declaration that Jubilee’s Uhuru Kenyatta duly elected as president after he garnered 6,173,433 votes (50.07 percent) against Raila Odinga (CORD) 5,340,546 votes (43.31 percent).

The issue is not over as yet with the IEBC. Detectives are questioning the four top managers at the electoral commission over the mismanagement of the March 4 elections according to sources close to the investigation by the anti-corruption commission.

The chairman, chief executive and his two deputies had implicated one another in the failure of the electronic tallying and transmission after the elections. A senior detective from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) told the Saturday Nation on Friday that the system failure was caused by internal fights over tenders, lack of coordination among departments and negligence.

This brings us to another big question as to why Jubilee should fear Kethi. I think because of her famous she earned during presidential results dispute between Uhuru and Raila. She presented herself very smartly before the court. With this fame she can easily be the next president of Kenya since almost every Kenyan would vote her.

Kethi is not only a young flamboyant talented lawyer, as a lawyer with talent and a lot of knowledge in law she is the new face in Kenyan screens that Kenyans are focusing on. She has become a mirror.

To spoil this good reputation is the reason why Agnes Ndetei has been used as a Jubilee messenger to write to the University of Nairobi requesting information regarding an alleged recall of Kethi’s Master’s degree certificate which they claim was irregularly awarded to her.

This is contrary to Kethi’s response that her certificates are genuine and she acquired them due to her excellence in law school. Kethi has a recognized master degree in law from the University of Nairobi.

That is why some Kenyans are challenging Ndetei and other Narc party officials including Charity Ngilu who is now coming up with Kethi’s degrees issues that they should be honest, where were they all that time? If the claim is true then they were a party to it. The good thing is that Kenyans are not fools.

Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578
Facebook-omolo beste

Real change must come from ordinary people who refuse to be taken hostage by the weapons of politicians in the face of inequality, racism and oppression, but march together towards a clear and unambiguous goal.

-Anne Montgomery, RSCJ UN Disarmament Conference, 2002

Hunting Africa’s Newest Holy Grail – an Affordable Internet and Content Device for the Home

From: Abdalah Hamis

Up until now, the focus has largely been on seeing how the price of mobile phones (whether smart or feature phones) can come down to open access to different content and services to wider numbers of people. But the new Holy Grail is finding a cheap household or “on-the-go” device that can deliver both Internet and VoD content to households. Russell Southwood looks at the kind of projects that are coming forward to tackle this need.

Whatever anyone tells you, Africans buy content. Go anywhere in an African city and you will find a market stall or small shop selling DVDs and VCDs. Take Kenya, for example, pirated DVDs sell for between US46-57 cents a copy and large numbers of people spend several dollars every month on this form of entertainment. The same is true for music DVDs. Even the most remote villages get DVD shops the moment electricity arrives.

A pirate market is simply one that functions at a level people can afford (remember the grey market in VoIP calling) not the one that suits the rights holders. So the commercial challenge is to be able to deliver both Internet and VoD content that works within these spending parameters.

In small markets, the cost of rolling out fibre to households is enormous so there is a “chicken-and-egg” barrier: the market is too small so there can never be sufficient “critical mass” to get prices to a level that is affordable so the market stays small.

However, even in places like Kenya, the practical challenges of delivering VoD content have left some of the best minds in disarray. Jamii Telecom may have built a fibre network and connected people with Fibre-To-The-Home but they have not yet created a convincing VoD content bundle to make use of it.

Enter stage left one of Kenya’s bountiful supply of small entrepreneurs, Kahenya Kimunyu, CEO and Founder of Able Wireless. He has created a modified Raspberry Pi with inbuilt wireless access (via Wi-Fi on 802.11G) that can give Internet access to two devices in a household.

His vision is to get local franchisees to put up local wireless aerials that will service several households locally. Each aerial will be able to service 20-25 people. The aim is to sell the box for KS500 (US$5.73) and to charge the same amount for an unlimited content service. He is looking to launch in November 2013 and reckons that it will be possible to get to 20,000 people by the end of year one.

The weakest part of his launch narrative so far is the content piece:”We’ll work with anyone who will offer a revenue share and our terms are generous.” He has one or two aces in his hand he can’t yet talk about but thus far the content is mainly low cards. A streamed channel of Al Jazeera, curated local You Tube content and the possibility of other local content providers coming in:”We want to get the kind of content people are currently buying at pirate DVD shops.” He may yet solve the content problem so let’s not judge too early in the process.

Another example of a different approach is a project at the “We”nnovation Hub in Lagos. One of its members has designed a piece of hardwire to use Wi-Fi and it can create its own network (within an area like a neighbourhood or a school) that can hold a digital library of content. It would allow users to stream content locally but have digital rights management that prevented piracy and it can be operated just within a local network.

These projects represent are just two examples of the kind of low-end, hybrid content delivery plays that people have talked about to me. They may not succeed but they are an attempt to find a way that suits the local context at a price people are already affording. One day soon maybe one of them will succeed…

Read the original story, with tables and illustrations where appropriate.

USA: POLL: “YOU are in IT. Is it OK what the NSA is doing?”

From: CyberheistNews

CyberheistNews Vol 3, 24

Editor’s Corner

POLL: “YOU are in IT. Is it OK what the NSA is doing?”

A new Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll asked Americans if they consider the NSA’s practice of obtaining telephone calls and email through secret court orders “acceptable.” As the Post’s exploration of the poll results notes, some people said the government should be allowed to go even further than it actually is. As you are probably aware, the NSA whistle-blower is 29-year old IT pro Ed Snowdon.

It’s my opinion that most people do not really understand the issue and I think it would be very interesting to see what IT professionals answer when they are asked the same questions. I will broadly announce the survey results in a few days, perhaps even a press release. I am asking the very same questions as the Post survey, with one exception where question 5 clarifies the amount of data being monitored.

It’s just 6 multiple choice questions and should take less than 2 minutes. Thanks so much for taking the time, this should be interesting !! Here is the link:

Citadel Botnet ‘Shutdown’ Makes Cybercrime Worse

It was all over the news. The Citadel botnet responsible for stealing more than 500 million dollars out of bank accounts from both individuals and organizations worldwide has been largely shut down or so it seems if you read the breathless press. Citadel is a smarter and more sophisticated cousin of the Zeus Trojan.

Citadel is an example as Crime-as-a-Service and has been sold since 2012 in do-it-yourself crime kits that cost $2,400 or more. The malware itself is installed on workstations using social engineering. End-users were tricked with phishing and spear-phishing into clicking on links which infected their workstations.

The Press Release said that Redmond aligned with the FBI and authorities in 80 other countries to take down one of the world’s biggest cyber crime rings. Microsoft said its Digital Crimes Unit Wednesday took down at least 1,000 of an estimated 1,400 Citadel Botnets, which infected as many as five million PCs around the world and targeted on major banks.

Now, I agree that it’s about freaking time these gangsters were shut down, but there is quite some collateral damage with all this hoopla. Let’s have a look at what Microsoft actually did. They identified about 1,400 botnets and disturbed them by pointing the infected machines to a server operated by Redmond instead of the Command & Control servers controlled by the bad guys.

This is not new, technically this is called ‘sinkholing’, and it’s been around for a long time. Simply put, you redirect the traffic generated by the Trojan on an infected PC to the good guys, who then warn the owner so they can clean the machine.

It so happens that a lot of security researchers had created their own sinkhole domains and a good chunk of these Citadel botnets had already been sinkholed when Microsoft seized both the domains of the bad guys but also the domains of the security researchers. Nearly a 1,000 domain names out of the approximately 4,000 domain names seized by Microsoft had already been sinkholed by security researchers!

The problem is that sinkholing is just a game of whack-a-mole. Takedowns like this trigger countermeasures by the bad guys who simply respond by using a peer-to-peer architecture instead of command & control servers making it much harder to take them down.

Cybercrime cannot be stopped with takedowns; as a matter of fact takedowns make cybercrime worse. You need legislation in Eastern Europe, and sufficient resources for law enforcement to take down the bad actors themselves.

(Hat Tip to

PS, We have a new infographic you might like, explains Spear-phishing in terms that everyone can understand:

PPS: And here is a new fun little quiz you can send to your users: “How Phish-prone Are You?”

Quotes of the Week

“Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to.’” – Lao Tzu

“You will never ‘find’ time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Bruxton

“The future has already arrived. It’s just not evenly distributed yet.” – William Gibson

A cyber security agenda for civil society: What is at stake?

From: Yona Maro

National security is being used by governments as a justification to censor, control or surveil internet use, and sometimes to shut down communications. Some cyber security specialists in the military are establishing cyber units, and an escalating arms race in cyberspace is emerging, accompanied by the growth of a “cyber-industrial complex.”

The private sector is increasingly involved in internet control. Through mechanisms of intermediary liability, telecommunication companies, internet service providers (ISPs) and other private sector actors now actively police the internet.”

While governments, militaries, intelligence agencies and the private sector are taking the lead in steering cyber security debate and policies, civil society needs to engage in cyber security on an equal footing. Robert Deibert has argued that civil society is “increasingly recognised as an important stakeholder in cyberspace governance” and needs to develop a cyber security strategy “that addresses the very real threats that plague governments and corporations, addresses national concerns in a forthright manner, while protecting and preserving open networks of information and communication.”
Link: Jobs in Africa International Job Opportunities

Opening New Avenues For Empowerment: ICTs For Persons With Disabilities

From: Yona Maro

Building on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, this Global Report addresses strong recommendations to all stakeholders – from decision-makers to educators, civil society and industry – on how concretely to advance the rights of people living with disabilities. These recommendations draw on extensive research and consultations. Studies launched in five regions have allowed UNESCO to understand more clearly the conditions and challenges faced by persons with disabilities around the world.

To empower persons with disabilities is to empower societies as a whole – but this calls for the right policies and legislation to make information and knowledge more accessible through information and communication technologies. It calls also for applying accessibility standards to the development of content, product and services. The successful application of such technologies can make classrooms more inclusive, physical environments more accessible, teaching and learning content and techniques more in tune with learners’ needs.

This UNESCO publication not only makes a major contribution to the understanding of disability, but also highlights technological advancement and shares good practices that have already changed the lives of people with disabilities. It also makes concrete recommendations for action at the local, national and international levels, targeting policy and decision makers, educators, IT&T industry, civil society and certainly persons with disabilities.
Link: Jobs in Africa International Job Opportunities

World: Reflections on The Fog of (Cyber)War

From: Yona Maro

This paper aims at assessing some widespread assertions related to the highly controversial issue of cyberwar. It does so by using the following approach: First, it reviews the original concept of cyberwar according to its original employ. Second, it presents three general controversial assertions synthesized from the qualitative content analysis of selected academic publications, landmark documents, and news accounts.

Link: Jobs in Africa International Job Opportunities

Jobs in Africa –
International Jobs –

Coders4Africa Year in Review 2012

From: Yona Maro

Some of the remarkable achievements in 2012 where the creation of which allowed the African developer community to engage in knowledge transfer and reach a wider audience in regards to the apps/projects they were working on. This tool also allowed C4A to communicate its goals, visions and strategy to its Pan-African ecosystem at wide. We launched our signature Practical Project Based Training (PPBT) in Senegal where we provided 20 developers with free training in the standards and best practices of Software engineering and soft business skills.

In addition, the C4A online community saw an increased number of registered members and groups; hosted and attended several events in the Africa, US, Canada and Europe which led to increased visibility and public relations; and ultimately sealed new partnerships and collaborations.

Link: Jobs in Africa International Job Opportunities

Jobs in Africa –
International Jobs –

Africa’s Information Highway: The African Development Bank Launches Open Data Platforms for 20 African Countries

From: Chambi Chachage

Jobs in Africa –
International Jobs –

From: Becker Charles Centre d’etudes africaines
Sent: Thursday, March 14, 2013 6:44 PM
Subject: Africa’s Information Highway: The African Development Bank Launches Open Data Platforms for 20 African Countries

From: “News Release – African Press Organization \(APO\)”
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2013 10:21:52 +0100
Organization: African Press Organization (APO)




Africa’s Information Highway: The African Development Bank Launches Open Data Platforms for 20 African Countries

TUNIS, Tunisia, March 14, 2013/ — The African Development Bank (AfDB) has launched Open Data Platforms ( for the following 20 African countries: Algeria, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, Republic of Congo, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Open Data Platform program is part of the AfDB’s recently launched “Africa Information Highway” initiative aimed at significantly improving data management and dissemination in Africa. Work is on course to complete platforms for the rest of African countries by July 2013.


The Open Data Platform is a user-friendly tool for extracting data, creating and sharing own customized reports, and visualizing data across themes, sectors and countries in tables, charts and maps. Through the Open Data Platform, users can access a wide range of development data on African countries from multiple international and national official sources. The platform also facilitates the collection, analysis and sharing of data among countries and with international development partners. The platform offers a unique opportunity for various users, such as policymakers, analysts, researchers, business leaders and investors around the world, to gain access to reliable and timely data on Africa. Users can visualize time series development indicators over a period of time, perform comprehensive analysis at country and regional levels, utilize presentation-ready graphics or create their own, blog, and share their views and work with others, thereby creating an informed community of users.

The Open Data Platform initiative is a response by the African Development Bank Group aimed at significantly increasing access to quality data necessary for managing and monitoring development results in African countries, including the MDGs. It responds to a number of important global and regional initiatives to scale up the availability of quality data on Africa and so foster evidence-based decision-making, public accountability and good governance.

Once implemented, the Open Data Platform will be used by African countries for all data submission flows to the AfDB and possibly other international development partners, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), EU Commission, World Health Organization (WHO), UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Union Commission (AUC) and UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). This initiative presents a unique opportunity for African countries to take the lead in implementation and promotion of international statistical standards across all countries in the region and in enhancing the quality of the data disseminated by African countries.

The initiative will also significantly revolutionize data management and dissemination in Africa, and reposition the continent for more effective participation in the global information economy.

Distributed by the African Press Organization on behalf of the African Development Bank.

Charles Leyeka Lufumpa
Director, Statistics Department
African Development Bank Group
Tel: +216 71 10 21 75 (office); +216 98 70 23 64 (mobile)


Beejaye Kokil
Manager, Social & Economic Statistics Division
Statistics Department
African Development Bank Group
Tel: +216 71 10 33 25 (office); +216 98 706 838 (mobile)

About the African Development Bank:

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is a multilateral development finance institution established to contribute to the economic development and the social progress of African countries. The African Development Bank Group comprises three entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). As the premier development finance institution on the continent, the AfDB’s mission is to help reduce poverty, and improve the living conditions of Africans. For more information, please visit:


African Development Bank (AfDB)


From: Judy Miriga


This is the most fake explanation I have heard in my life time.

Judy Miriga
Diaspora Spokesperson
Executive Director
Confederation Council Foundation for Africa Inc.,

— – – – – – – – – –

— On Wed, 3/6/13, roz kahumbu wrote

IEBC Tech Kenya

4am March 6 update from IEBC

Following up on the earlier IEBC press conference (4AM), here are the technical details of the problems:

– Disc space on the server. While we all tend to roll our eyes, ‘how can they run out of disk space’, the reality is that they ran out of configured disk space. In the rush to set up everything before March 4, the IT staff did not configure the server partitioning correctly. Its like having two mailboxes next to each other to receive data but when one fills up it does not correctly overflow to the other one. That error has been fixed.

– Data is stored on the main server at Bomas (which was delayed), a backup server off site (which did not have the new data because it was not on the main server), and then servers at the constituency and county levels. So data probably exists outside Nairobi but it has to be pulled, with scripts, to Nairobi. They are currently checking to see how much exists that is not on the server in Nairobi. It is also not advisable to pull it all at the same time because then the reporting percent will jump from 28% (at 0725) to a much higher number. So it has to be done incrementally.

– The second problem is the transmission of data. KTI’s Deputy Country Representative was at the Farasi School polling center in Westlands Constituency at 2100 on the 4th. He observed the counting of the presidential results and then the box was sealed and the Officer tried to submit the results. He was watching the screen and it was unable to send because of a data problem. Unknown to him, this is the same time that the server went down. The clerk was supposed to only try twice and then move to counting the next box. Instead he kept trying. He could not even enter the results for future transmission because he had not used the phone the night before to connect to the server and to download the data of who was running at that polling station. Also note that the officers and clerks at that station had been on their feet since 5AM and by 9PM had only counted one box of six.

– The third problem is the network coverage. If there is no network coverage, the counting of all 6 boxes must be completed before the officers can move to the constituency office and transmit the data en-route or whenever they have coverage. In the design, the data is supposed to be entered at the polling station even if it cannot be transmitted; then the data is queued for transmission when there is a signal. Based on the example above (Farasi Primary), the data could not have been entered because it was not correctly set up at the beginning of the day.

The IEBC call center is calling all constituencies asking them to re-transmit the data. Data can be re-transmitted many times since it is keyed to the phone and polling center. It cannot be changed once transmitted the first time but multiple transmissions are accepted.


The returns were 28.21% at 7:25AM, at 7:50 (25min) it is 28.94%. This represents 243 polling stations (of the 33,400 stations). The system is working, Kenyans need to be patient. As one person from the IEBC stated, ““Its too early to be celebrating or commiserating”

March 6, 2013 (5:12 am)

Jobs in Africa –
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Non-governmental Perspectives on a New Generation of National Cybersecurity Strategies

From: Yona Maro

This document brings together views from business, civil society and the Internet technical on the emergence of a new generation of national cybersecurity strategies. These stakeholder views were solicited in January 2012 by the OECD Secretariat through a questionnaire to the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC), the Civil Society Internet Society Advisory Council (CSISAC) and the Internet Technical Advisory Committee (ITAC) to the OECD.

Link: Jobs in Africa International Job Opportunities

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Empowering and Protecting Consumers in the Internet Economy

From: Yona Maro

The aim of the paper is twofold: i) to present developments and progress made in enhancing trust and consumer engagement in e-commerce since the Seoul Declaration; and ii) to point policy makers to possible further work to address some key ongoing and emerging consumer challenges. The spread of mobile devices, easy-to-use payment mechanisms, as well as participative web tools such as price and product comparisons and consumer ratings and reviews has further provided consumers with a more convenient e-commerce experience. Trust in e-commerce, however, remains challenged by a number of problems requiring further attention. These include complex information disclosures, legislative gaps, fraudulent and misleading practices and privacy threats as well as inadequate redress mechanisms.

Link: Jobs in Africa International Job Opportunities

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