November 2010 Archives

.uk is not .com - let alone .anon or .xxx

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I am intrigued by the controversy over the plans of Nominet to work with law enforcement to take action against malpractice by those registering their websites on .uk

I used to think that .uk was for those who wanted their vistors to know that they were dealing with a bona fide UK company or individual - not an overseas look-alike or predator. Last year I was dismayed to learn how easy it was for others to register and have been delighted to see the recent changes to the governance of Nominet and the business models of its registrars. I look forward to seeing the latter making more money from provided more trusted services. .

Those who wish to be anonymous should go elsewhere.

I would like to see a properly protected  .anon (where it is indeed not possible to identify those who do not wish to be identified) and even a .xxx (for those who want that sort of thing). But I wuld also like to be able to easily block all traffic to or from such sites except when I (not my ISP or Search engine) actively trust them. And that means facilities in my browser that will enable me (as a lay user) to make an informed decision.

Unfortuately that concept that appears alien to almost the entire Internet community.

I too do not like (or trust) routines security facilitiies, ISPs or Search Engines which fail to filter out malware while clogging my screen with blurb from those who pay most and blocking me from finding what I am seeking because of litigation which should have no impact outside the obscure US County Court where it originated. 

I should also add that, while I normally trust government agencies as far as I can throw them (i.e. not a lot), I happen to trust GCHQ and SOCA rather more that I trust any of my current Internet Service Providers.

Would I trust the anonymity/probity/security of a truly off-shore operation, headquartered in Switzerland with its server farms in Norwegian Fjords and Tropical Lagoons ... I wonder.



No taxation without services: can the final third also drop out of Income Tax?

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Government plans to make on-line services the default or even mandatory make sense only if  accompanied by rigorous action to ensure we all have Internet access that is fit for purpose. The Victorians understood this. Antony Tollope spend years in trains and on horseback, investigating rural postal services. One result was the Barchester Chronicles. Another result was the Royal Mail contracts that help pull through investment in "high speed" (in some cases higher than today's speeds) rail services. We need similar "vision" today.


The ten/twelve scams of Christmas - 2010

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There has been a lot of publicity for the recent McAfee release on the Twelve Scams of Christmas as seen from the United States. Nearer home you might like to consider the top ten in Northern Ireland last year. Mark Jenner, forensic accountants, produced a similar list but in a different order . But some of the most effective scams can arrive through your letter box, not just over the phone or by e-mails. A chain e-mail is currently doing the rounds about a simple but chillingly effective scam: "XYZ parcel service. Sorry you were out, ring nnn (a premium rate number)". Phonepayplus says that the scam covered by the e-mail was closed down in 2005 and gives advice on how to recognise premium numbers.        


Why are our systems so vulnerable: the cybersecurity bandwagon

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My inbox has recently been full of invitations to cybersecurity events, albeit those targeted at public sector users use the words "information assurance" and those targeted at the private sector use the words "information security". "Data protection" is passe, except among lawyers and compliance officers. Meanwhile international action against the e-crime industry has finally begun, leading to sharp drops in spam and malware for a fortnight or so while the "dark markets" reconfigure and re-establish control of leaderless botnets and mule teams after their herders have been taken out. We are even seeing the begining of action to clean up the Internet addressing system to reduce opportunities for fraud and impersonation. But most of those bidding for the newly available government cybersecurity budgets appear stuck in a time-warp.     

What really happens when IT meets politics

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So you want to get a PhD in political science  helps bring out the difference between ICT nerds and policy wonks. Reminded me of the description of a modern degree in Electrical Engineering "wall to wall mathematics with a project tagged on to the end" - and all those who went into to computer science "to escape from human beings".  


Does centralised ICT procurement give better value?

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Ministers are talking of massive decentralisation to save money except for procurement where there are supposedly massive savings from bulk buying or ICT, where the savings from systems inter-operability and the re-use of previously purchased software can be substantial. But are such savings, incluidng with regard to ICT, more than wiped out by the tiers of overhead and inflexibility along the supply chain? 

Why consumers give up on cybersecurity

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I am currently attending a slew of meetings on Cybersecurity at which experts preach to each other. On monday I am due to chair a meeting skills. On November 15th the Get Safe On-line Summit will have the most powerful line-up of speakers in years. Government is taking the issues seriously - but are the security experts ready to be taken seriously. I will use a simple example: What should you actually do when you receive an e-mail asking you to renew your anti-virus software or one telling you that your automatic update has failed because your card details have not been recognised?


Cybersecurity in Cloud Cuckoo Land

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I spent the week-end reviewing forward political agendas, including for information and identity governance. I skipped the No2ID celebrations over the end of ID cards. That was partly because I believe in the value of locally issued residents' cards, linked to properly validated electoral registers and access to local libraries, sports facilities and shopping discounts. But it was mainly because I expect to see the arguments back again next spring in the context of ....

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