May 2007

NEWS REVIEW

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DENMARK TOPS IN THE WEF'S GLOBAL INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY REPORT 2006 – 07

Denmark ranks top for the first time in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Information Technology Report 2006 – 2007's 'Networked Readiness Index'. The study examines the preparedness of countries to use Informtion Communication Technology (ICT) effectively on three dimensions: the general business, regulatory and infrastructure environment for ICT; the readiness of three stakeholders individuals, businesses and governemnt to use and benefit from ICT; and their actual usage of the latest ICT available. It measures the propensity of countries to leverage the opportunities offered by Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for development and increase competitiveness. The survey covered 122 economies worldwide and published for the sixth consecutive year.

The result shows that Denmark ranks top for the first time, due to its strong regulatory framework, coupled with a clear government leadership and vision in leveraging ICT for growth and promoting ICT penetration and usage. India and China slipped down to 44th and 59th ranks respectively due to their weak infrastructure and low level of individual ICT usage for India and of individual and business readiness and usage for china. The Nordic countries have been in the top 10 list for the last 6 years due to its strong focus on education which has enabled a culture of innovation and business-friendly environment and readiness by the key national stakeholders to adopt the latest technologies.

UAE PLANS ADVANCEMENT IN ITS ID CARD TECHNOLOGY

UAE plans to add Iris technology as a second biometric identifier into its ID smart card to expatriate workers and citizens. Iris recognition is an attractive technology for identity authentication for several reasons. Like a snowflake, the iris – the externally visible colored ring around the pupil – of every human eye is absolutely unique. Of all the biometric technologies used for human authentication today, it is generally conceded that iris recognition is the most accurate.

The ID card was introduced two years back with fingerprints of the card holder. The country has an estimated 80% of 5 million population is made up of foreign workers. The card is being used to secure its borders, reduce identity theft and keep better track of the expatriates. It plans to run multi-application on the same ID card, as health card, as e-Passport within the gulf region, as an ATM and e-Purse card and as an authentication for e-Government services.

STAGE SET TO STRENGTHEN THE IT SECURITY IN KEY INFRASTRUCTURE SECTORS IN INDIA

As a measure to beef up the Information Technology (IT) security in key infrastructure sectors, the Informtion Technology (IT) Ministry, Government of India has initiated the process to amend the IT Act 2000. The proposed amendment will necessitate, having Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) in both public and private key infrastructure sectors. The central and state government ministries and public organisations will have senior government officials such as the secretary as CISOs. In private sector, the Administrator himself will serve as the CISO.

These CISOs have to share data with Computer Emergency Response Team-India (CERT-In) when deemed necessary. In turn CERT-In will prescribe guidelines for the specific organisations to secure IT systems and provide actionable data to such organisations. It will alert the administrator for the presence of viruses and worms in the IT system of an organisation. The depatment has already sent out the template that would help them in creating information which will be required by CERT-In.

INDIAN GOVERNMENT SIGNS MOU WITH MICROSOFT AND MCAFEE, TO TIGHTEN THE CYBER SECURITY
The Department of Information Technology (DIT), Government of India has signed MoUs with Microsoft and McAfee to check the increasing threat from viruses and worms. According to the Computer Emergency Response Team – India (CERT-In) more than 400 Indian websites were attacked by Hackers during December 2006 and a total number of 5200 websites were defaced during 2006. The government is planning for new strategies like planting of baits in the cyber space. These baits will attract unusual Internet traffic patterns, which will be analysed and then early warnings will be issued to prevent damages. If the project is successful, it will help in zero in on viruses and worms entering through different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in critical sector organisations such as banks, railways and airports.

The current initiative is a part of bigger aim of DIT to make a successful country-level view of the security status of the Net traffic. Even though currently the ISP-level view of the security status exists in the country, a country-level view will enable an early monitoring of cyber crimes.

IRS FAILED TO PROTECT TAXPAYERS DATA

The Internal Revenue Services (IRS) has failed to protect the taxpayers data which could have lead to data theft or other financial fraud said a US government report. According to the report, the IRS has not given adequate attention to protect information in 52,000 laptops and other storage systems.

Despite the early warnings about the security problems in 2003 and in February 2006, the IRS had not turned its ears to the issue. Nearly 500 laptops of IRS were lost or stolen during that three and a half years period. Recently, inspector general's staff tested 100 laptops used by IRS employees and found that 44 of them had unencrypted sensitive data, including taxpayers and employee personnel data. The new report also found similar security holes in the backup systems at IRS field and processing offices around the country. The report attributes the newly identified short comings at IRS offices “to a lack of emphasis by management.” The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a non-profit research and advocacy group says more than 100 million records of U.S. residents have been exposed by security breaches since February 2005. Mark W. Everson, IRS Commissioner, said “protection of taxpayer data is a top priority” and the agency has “moved aggressively” to remedy security flaws from the second half of the last year.

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