Money-grabbing telcos want to charge for their piece of the Internet

Google is my search engine of choice, and Google AdSense is the main source of income for this site (still not quite breaking even though); however recently I have criticised the Internet search giant for their appalling Google Pack and also questioned (in not so many words) whether their rapid growth is starting to impinge on their “don’t be evil” informal corporate motto…

Whether Google are evil or not, I was appalled to hear on Slashdot Review that US telcos have criticised Google and other Internet giants for using their lines without paying extra fees and charges. According to the original Washington Post article, a Verizon executive said:

“The network builders are spending a fortune constructing and maintaining the networks that Google intends to ride on with nothing but cheap servers.”

The way I see it is that I pay my Internet service provider (ISP) to provide an Internet service and Google pays their ISP to provide an Internet service whilst the ISPs pay the telcos for access to the carrier networks. So, the telcos are paid, not once, but twice to deliver Google’s data to my browser. Now they want to be paid again… hmm…

At the same time, the telcos are putting in place next generation networks that will allow them to prioritise traffic, effectively allowing them to marginalise “free” Internet users, giving access to those are prepared to pay more. As both a user and a content provider, I don’t like this one bit, and neither it seems does Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, Vinton G. Cerf, who was partially responsible for the original creation of the Internet and was reported in the same article as saying:

“In the Internet world, both ends essentially pay for access to the Internet system, and so the providers of access get compensated by the users at each end… My big concern is that suddenly access providers want to step in the middle and create a toll road to limit customers’ ability to get access to services of their choice even though they have paid for access to the network in the first place.”

That just about sums it up to me. Verizon (AT&T, and the rest) – keep your hands off the Internet – I pay my ISP – how ISPs and telcos charge one another for access should not be my problem.

The Symantec Internet security threat report

Earlier today, I downloaded the Eighth Edition of the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report. Published twice a year, this report highlights trends in the Internet security space and the following list highlights some of the key findings (according to Symantec).

Vulnerability trend highlights:

  • Symantec documented 1,862 new vulnerabilities, the highest number since Symantec started tracking vulnerabilities in six-month increments.
  • The time between the disclosure of a vulnerability and the release of an associated exploit was 6.0 days.
  • The average patch-release time for the past 6 months was 54 days. This means that, on average, 48 days elapsed between the release of an exploit and the release of an associated patch.
  • 97% of vulnerabilities were either moderately or highly severe.
  • 73% of reported vulnerabilities this period were classified as easily exploitable.
  • 59% of vulnerabilities were associated with web application technologies.
  • 25 vulnerabilities were disclosed for Mozilla browsers and 13 for Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Attack trend highlights:

  • For the fourth consecutive reporting period, the Microsoft SQL Server Resolution Service Stack Overflow Attack was the most common attack, accounting for 33% of all attacks.
  • Symantec sensors detected an average of 57 attacks per day.
  • TCP port 445, commonly implemented for Microsoft file and printer sharing, was the most frequently targeted port.
  • Symantec identified an average of 10,352 bots per day, up from 4,348 in December 2004.
  • On average, the number of denial of service (DoS) attacks grew from 119 to 927 per day, an increase of 679% over the previous reporting period.
  • 33% of Internet attacks originated in the United States, up from 30% last period.
  • Between January 1 and June 30, 2005, education was the most frequently targeted industry followed by small business.

Malicious code trend highlights:

  • Symantec documented more than 10, 866 new Win32 virus and worm variants, a 48% increase over the second half of 2004 and a 142% increase of the first half of 2004.
  • For the second straight period, Netsky.P was the most reported malicious code sample. Gaobot and Spybot were the second and third most reported, respectively.
  • Malicious code that exposes confidential information represented 74% of the top 50 malicious code samples received by Symantec.
  • Bot-related malicious code reported to Symantec made up 14% of the top 50 reports.
  • 6,361 new variants of Spybot were reported to Symantec, a 48% increase over the 4,288 new variants documented in the second half of 2004.

Additional security risks:

  • Adware made up 8% of the top 50 reported programs, up from 5% in the previous reporting period.
  • Eight of the top ten adware programs were installed through web browsers.
  • Six of the top ten spyware programs were bundled with other programs and six were installed through web browsers.
  • Of the top ten adware programs reported in the first six months of 2005, five hijacked browsers.
  • Messages that constitute phishing attempts increased from an average of 2.99 million per day to approximately 5.70 million messages.
  • Spam made up 61% of all email traffic.
  • 51% of all spam received worldwide originated in the United States.

Some interesting (and some frankly frightening) statistics there. Definitely worth a read for any network administrator or IT manager.

Accessing the Internet using Vodafone GPRS and a PDA with Bluetooth

I’ve been trying to get my PDA (an HP iPAQ 2210) to connect to the Internet via a Bluetooth connection to my business mobile phone (a Nokia 6310i). I was having problems with this until I found the details on the Vodafone website (Get More from Your Mobile | Internet on the Move | Set up your PDA); however the Vodafone details don’t include PDAs running Windows Mobile for Pocket PC 2003 or Bluetooth connectivity and so I’ve posted my own instructions here:

(these notes assume that that you are familiar with using the PocketPC and that you have already successfully paired the PDA with the mobile handset).

From the Start menu, select, Settings:
Move to the Connections page and click the Connections icon, then select Add a new modem connection.

Give the connection a name (e.g. Vodafone GPRS) and select a Bluetooth Dialup Modem, before clicking Next:

Enter the number as *99# and click Next:

Enter the username and password (both web). Leave the domain name empty and click Advanced…:

On the General page, set the Baud rate to 57600 and enter a modem command string of +cgdcont=1,"ip","Internet":

On the Port Settings page, set 8 data bits, no parity, 2 stop bits and hardware flow control:

All other advanced settings should be default (most notably the connection should use server-assigned [IP] addresses):

Click OK, and then Finish.

Turn Bluetooth on:

Launch the Vodafone GPRS connection (e.g. by clicking the connectivity icon at the top of the screen and then clicking *99#):

The PDA will initiate the connection with the mobile handset (it may be necessary to confirm the connection on the handset):

Once connected, Internet services can be accessed as normal:

To disconnect, click the connectivity icon at the top of the screen and click Disconnect:

Finally, turn Bluetooth off to conserve power:

Happy birthday to the Internet

Thirty-five years ago this month, computer scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) used a 15′ cable to link two computers, testing a new way to exchange data and ultimately playing a pivotal role in the development of the Internet (then called ARPANET). This link took place on September 2 1969.

Further development throughout the 1970s expanded the network, added e-mail and TCP/IP. The 1980s saw the birth of the domain name system (DNS) and in 1990, the World Wide Web was born.

I remember marvelling at the things I could find using FTP when I was at Uni’ in the early 90s, and a few years later experiencing online services like CompuServe and a very immature world-wide web. Without the Internet we would not have TCP/IP and Unix (arguably we would not have the Internet as it exists today without these technologies).

Since then, the Internet has become ever more pervasive. E-mail has become a globally accepted method of communication, supplemented by new technologies such as instant messaging (IM) and voice over IP (VoIP); breaking news is available globally in an instant; the web is the first port of call for researching information; and the growth in web services in recent years has been immense.

For more information on the development of the Internet, see the Internet Society (ISOC) website.