LACNIC

Internet Week Guyana Advances Caribbean Tech Development Agenda

BY GERARD BEST

Organizers of Internet Week Guyana, representing the government of Guyana, regional and international Internet development bodies, take a photo call at the fifteenth meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana, on October 11, as part of the Internet Week Guyana. PHOTO COURTESY CaribNOG.
A cross-section of Guyanese secondary school students participate in the Caribbean Telecommunications Union’s Youth ICT Day, held at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown, Guyana, on October 13, as part of the Internet Week Guyana. PHOTO COURTESY CaribNOG.

Around the world, the growing sophistication of cyber criminals is challenging the capacity of governments, businesses and individuals to defend themselves.

Within the Caribbean, governments are forging strategic partnerships with regional actors like the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG), the region’s largest volunteer-based community of network engineers, computer security experts and tech aficionados.

Recently, CaribNOG and the CTU collaborated with the Government of Guyana and other Internet organisations to host the inaugural Internet Week Guyana. International collaborators included the Internet Society, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), and the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC).

The five-day conference focused on building human resource capacity in cyber security and other key technology-related areas.

“The government of Guyana has been investing heavily in education and capacity building programs over the past two years. The idea of Internet Week Guyana came as a result of our collaborations with regional and international NGOs involved in the technology education space. And our collaboration bore fruit from the first day of Internet Week Guyana to the last,” said Catherine Hughes, Minister of Public Telecommunications, and host of the pioneering event.

The event attracted more than 400 participants, including public and private sector officials, telecommunications and computer networking specialists, entrepreneurs, and secondary school students.

“Private sector leaders, law enforcement and judicial offers, academia and civil society all have a collective responsibility to ensure that citizens, businesses and governments are safer and more secure in the digital age,” said Bevil Wooding, Caribbean Outreach Manager at ARIN, and one of the co-organisers of the event.

“We encourage Caribbean governments to develop legislative agendas and increase intra-regional cooperation, in order to strengthen the region’s overall cyber security capability,” said Kevon Swift, Head of Strategic Relations and Integration at LACNIC, another coordinator for the event.

Throughout the week, representatives from participating organisations demonstrated practical ways in which stakeholders could work together to strengthen and secure Caribbean networks.

Stephen Lee, a CaribNOG co-founder, translated global cybersecurity issues into Caribbean priorities, outlining some of the challenges and opportunities of special relevance to the region.

Albert Daniels, Senior Manager for Stakeholder Engagement in the Caribbean at ICANN, outlined that organisation’s work in supporting secure network deployments around the world.

Shernon Osepa, Manager, Regional Affairs for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society, took the occasion to formally launch the Internet Society Guyana Chapter, with Nancy Quiros, Manager of Chapter Development in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society. Lance Hinds, Special Advisor to the Minister of Public Telecommunications, is serving as the chapter’s Interim President.

But the exclamation mark on the weeklong event was undoubtedly a gathering of young people, hosted by the CTU, on the conference’s closing day. About 300 students representing secondary schools from across the country took part in the all-day agenda. Educational videos, interactive presentations and lively Q&A sessions all helped bring new awareness to cyber-safety and cyber security for youth.

“The CTU continues to support the development of the Information and Communication Technologies sector in the region, including an emphasis on harnessing the potential of the youth,” said Michelle Garcia, Communications Specialist at the CTU.

Following the meeting there were several calls for Internet Week Guyana to be made a fixture on the country’s event calendar. Now the real work continues, to convert the high interest in the meeting into tangible national benefit.

Building the Caribbean Internet Economy

By Gerard Best

Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House, delivers a presentation on developing the Caribbean Internet economy at Internet Week Sint Maarten, held at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten on October 27, 2016. PHOTO: LACNIC
Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist, Packet Clearing House, delivers a presentation on developing the Caribbean Internet economy at Internet Week Sint Maarten, held at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten on October 27, 2016. PHOTO: LACNIC

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten—In the Caribbean, change is in the air. In fact, it’s in the cloud.

There’s a new conversation among the community of technology experts who spearhead Caribbean Internet development, and the buzz is no longer just about physical infrastructure. The architects of the region’s digital future are actively taking steps to strengthen the region’s economy by developing the Caribbean cloud.

“We have to look beyond basic infrastructure deployment, to developing the local content, services and business models that can truly benefit the region,” said Bevil Wooding, Internet Strategist with US-based non-profit Packet Clearing House (PCH).

“Twelve Internet exchange points are already established in the Caribbean, and several others are being considered. While we continue to push for strengthening of critical Internet infrastructure in the region, our focus must also expand to development of the Caribbean Internet-based economy. We need to build out the Caribbean cloud,” he said.

Internet exchange points, or IXPs, are pieces of critical infrastructure that provide points of physical interconnection between the networks that make up the global Internet. PCH has played an active role in setting up more than two-thirds of the world’s IXPs and almost all of the exchange points in the Caribbean. The non-profit firm has worked closely with the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, an inter-governmental CARICOM organisation that focuses on regional technology policy. Together, they have actively supported the proliferation of Internet exchanges in the Caribbean.

While establishing physical exchange points is necessary, it is not sufficient to advance the regional Internet economy, Wooding said. Another crucial step is needed.

“Getting the exchange points up and running is a start. But there has to be a shift in the conversation, from local traffic exchange to local content production, local application development and local innovation. What we want to see is not just more people on the Internet but more people actually taking advantage of the social and economic opportunities the Internet offers,” Wooding said.

“The private sector, academia and governments all have to work in sync to create opportunities for digital innovators and entrepreneurs to take advantage of the Internet and build on the local IXPs that now exist. We have to actively build the Caribbean cloud.”

Wooding was speaking as part of a panel discussion on developing the Caribbean Internet economy, held on the first day of Sint Maarten on the Move, a regional technology development conference jointly hosted by the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry and the Internet Society (ISOC) in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten from October 27 to 28.

He co-presented with Eldert Louisa, chairman of the Open Caribbean Internet Exchange and Chief Technical Officer of Sint Maarten telecom operator TelEm Group. Karen Rose, Senior Director of Strategy and Analysis at ISOC, moderated the panel.

Sint Maarten on the Move was part of Internet Week Sint Maarten, a five-day conference coordinated by the St Maarten telecommunications regulator, BTP, and focused on developing the Caribbean Internet.

The week started with the twelfth regional meeting of the Caribbean Network Operators Group, which was jointly held with the LAC-I-Roadshow of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, from October 24 to 26. A broad range of technical, social and policy issues related to Caribbean technology development were covered in the three-day event, held with the support of the CTU, the American Registry of Internet Numbers and ArkiTechs.

Caribbean Faces Serious Cyber Security Threats

By Gerard Best

Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer, Latin America and the Caribbean Internet Addresses delivers a presentation on regional cyber security at Internet Week Sint Maarten, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, October 24, 2016. Looking on is Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer, American Registry of Internet Numbers. PHOTO: LACNIC
Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer, Latin America and the Caribbean Internet Addresses delivers a presentation on regional cyber security at Internet Week Sint Maarten, Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, October 24, 2016. Looking on is Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer, American Registry of Internet Numbers. PHOTO: LACNIC

PHILIPSBURG, St Maarten—Keep it secret. And make sure it’s safe.

Don’t use your real name, your birth date, or any single word. Instead, try a short phrase that includes some numerals and even some punctuation.

Devising secure passwords for your online accounts and your family’s Internet-connected devices is simple enough, if you follow a few easy guidelines like these. But most people just don’t.

And a major attack on a little-known company underscores how much of the security of the global Internet now depends on that unwitting majority of ordinary Internet users. On October 21, a distributed denial of service, or DDoS attack, brought down a relatively obscure US-based firm called Dyn. Those attacks are fairly common, and they use huge networks of malicious software called botnets to bring down a specific service.

What made the DDoS attack on Dyn more troubling was that it set a dangerous precedent. Dyn provides domain name system or DNS services, which support part of the critical infrastructure underlying the global Internet. By targeting companies that make up the backbone of the Internet, hackers can bring down all kinds of other services.

Also disturbing is the fact that the hackers used networks of common smart devices like watches, TVs and refrigerators, to cause the major disruption. Analysts have linked the attack to the Mirai malware, which uses the Internet of Things, or IoT, as botnets. The Mirai source code was released on hacking websites in October.

Analysts are also linking the Dyn attack to others that took place within a five-week span, each larger than the previous, and all using Mirai. On September 20, a 660 Gbps attack was launched on the KrebsOnSecurity blog. A 1 Tbps attack was also launched on French hosting provider OVH on the same day.

“In the last two years, we’ve had multiple attacks, and the most recent attacks are using IoT devices,” said Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer of the American Registry of Internet Numbers, the organisation that provides number resource allocation and registration services for North America and parts of the Caribbean.

He explained that smart devices present an easy target for hackers to turn into botnets because users typically fail to secure them properly.

“A lot of the devices are vulnerable. It means that more and more homes are very quietly becoming potential sites of DDOS attacks,” he said.

“Now, we all have to make sure that all of those devices that we have around the house are secure.”

As smart devices proliferate, it will become easier for hackers to launch significant cyber attacks using unsecured IoT devices, unless ordinary end-users become more security-conscious. When it comes to cyber security, it turns out personal choices can have global consequences. And for the foreseeable future, it is the network of human beings who will have to keep the Internet of Things safe.

The ARIN CTO was speaking on the second day of a technology conference jointly held by the Caribbean Network Operators Group and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten from October 24 to 26.

He co-presented with Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer of the Latin America and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC), ARIN’s counterpart in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Also presenting on the technical, social and policy aspects of cyber security issues facing the Caribbean region were CaribNOG co-founder Bevil Wooding, an Internet Strategist with Packet Clearing House; Albert Daniels, ICANN Senior Manager for Stakeholder Engagement in the Caribbean; and Shernon Osepa, Regional Affairs Manager for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Internet Society (ISOC).

Supported by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Packet Clearing House and ArkiTechs, the event was part of Internet Week Sint Maarten, a five-day conference coordinated by the St Maarten telecommunications regulator, BTP and focused on developing the Caribbean Internet. The week ended with Sint Maarten on the Move, a two-day event jointly hosted by LACNIC and ISOC.

 

ICANN backs Caribbean technology development

Albert Daniels, Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement for the Caribbean at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers delivers remarks at the organisation’s LAC-I-Roadshow, at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, October 24, 2016.

A global Internet giant is partnering with a Caribbean-based group to advance regional technology development.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is joining forces with the Caribbean Network Operators Group (CaribNOG) to build the capacity of the region’s technical community.

ICANN coordinates the Internet’s system of unique addresses. The global nonprofit organization is dedicated to ensuring an open, stable and secure Internet.

“When we started working to develop capacity in the region, we soon realised that CaribNOG had the same goals, and so we quickly decided that by working together, we could accomplish more,” said Albert Daniels, Senior Manager of Stakeholder Engagement for the Caribbean at ICANN.

Daniels was speaking at the joint opening of ICANN’s LAC-I-Roadshow and CaribNOG’s twelfth regional meeting, held at Sonesta Great Bay Resort, Philipsburg from October 24 to 26.

The spirit of collaboration goes far beyond ICANN and CaribNOG. It includes several other major players in the global Internet landscape, such as the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) and the American Registry of Internet Numbers (ARIN). LACNIC and ARIN are the two regional Internet registries that share responsibility for the Caribbean sub-region.

“We are pleased to be working together with Carlos Martinez, Chief Technology Officer of LACNIC, and Mark Kosters, Chief Technology Officer of ARIN, to deliver training on critical issues such as domain name system security,” Daniels said.

The U.S. government helped create ICANN in 1998 with the goal of building a stable, multi-stakeholder organisation that could take over the management of the Internet’s naming and number system. To accomplish this goal, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration partnered with ICANN to transition important coordination functions, known as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) functions, to the private sector. On October 1, the IANA stewardship function was formally transitioned to the global multi-stakeholder community.

At LAC-I-Roadshow, Daniels presented on technical issues like cyber security, and policy issues such as the IANA stewardship transition. The slate of international experts conducted hands-on sessions covering a broad range of topics, including Internet exchange points.

The LAC-I-Roadshow and CaribNOG 12 are part of Internet Week Sint Maarten, a five-day conference focused on developing the Caribbean Internet.

The three-day gathering was supported by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union; the American Registry for Internet Numbers; Packet Clearing House; ArkiTechs and The BrightPath Foundation.

Internet Week Sint Maarten ends with Sint Maarten on the Move, a two-day event jointly hosted by the Internet Society (ISOC) and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses registry (LACNIC).

The weeklong conference is coordinated by the St Maarten telecommunications regulator, BTP. It is open to the public and free of charge, with a live video stream for remote participants.

ICANN chief to step down in early 2016

Hours after announcing his resignation, Fadi Chehadé, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, left, fields questions from members of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (Lacnic) at the Lacnic 23 conference, held in Lima, Peru on May 21. At right is Oscar Robles-Garay, CEO of Lacnic. Photo: Gerard Best
Hours after announcing his resignation, Fadi Chehadé, president and CEO of the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers, left, fields questions from members of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (Lacnic) at the Lacnic 23 conference, held in Lima, Peru on May 21. At right is Oscar Robles-Garay, CEO of Lacnic. Photo: Gerard Best

By Gerard Best

LIMA, Peru—The head of the non-profit group that oversees all Internet addresses will step down in March 2016.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) President and CEO Fadi Chehadé sent notice to the board on May 21 telling them that he would leave after an annual meeting to be held in Morocco in March.

Hours after the news broke on Agence France Presse (AFP), Chehadé addressed representatives of the regional Internet community gathered in Lima for an annual conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC).

He said that during the remaining 10 months of his tenure, ICANN would redouble efforts to give greater power to the global, multistakeholder Internet community of governments, businesses, organisations and users, so that no single entity would have the authority to determine the future of the Internet.

Chehadé has been overseeing ICANN’s transition away from the longstanding US-centred arrangement toward a more global oversight of ICANN’s core responsibility for the Internet.

Chehadé had earlier commended the ICANN staff for moving the organisation from a predominantly US-based operation to a global institution with offices and relationships spread around the world.

At stake in the transition process is the control of a vital stake in the rapidly growing global digital economy, which could exceed 4.2 trillion US dollars by 2016, according to a Boston Consulting Group study.

“As the digital economy grows, the pressure to take control of things will grow as well, and it is incumbent upon us to show that we are prepared and mature and ready,” he said.

For the last 25 years, ICANN has been contracted by the US Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to manage the assignment of Internet names and numbers globally. That collection of responsibilities is referred to as the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) stewardship function.

Chehadé’s resignation will take effect shortly after the US government receives a plan to implement the transition of the IANA stewardship function to Icann and the global Internet community, including Regional Internet Registries such as LACNIC. A release from ICANN said Chehadé would remain available to support the transition to a new leader after March 2016 as well as to advise the board on the IANA transition.

“I am deeply committed to working with the board, our staff, and our community to continue ICANN’s mission as we still have much to accomplish,” Chehadé told AFP.

“I think this is the right time and the right thing to do.”

Chehadé has also also overseen the launch of new top-level domains, such as .google and .cricket. That process that has increased ICANN revenues under his tenure and brought the operations of the nonprofit agency under heightened global scrutiny.

Chehadé said he has accepted a job in the private sector, outside of the domain name space which ICANN supervises. He said he would disclose the name of his new employer later this year.