Spam on the Menu at ITU TELECOM WORLD 2006

December 7, 2006 China's booming markets and the explosion in high-speed networks globally are creating plenty of optimism at the ITU Telecom World 2006 in Hong Kong this week. Mobile phones and wireless networks now reach about one-third of humanity as worldwide, about 215 million consumers use some sort of broadband network to retrieve content on the Internet, while 60 million subscribers, mostly in Asia, use mobile broadband networks. It is the first time that ITU Telecom World is not held in Geneva, Switzerland, reflecting Asia's strong market potential. One of the highlights of this year’s ITU Telecom World 2006 is a one day event being held tomorrow entitled "Countering Spam Cooperation Agenda". Key international and regional organizations invoIved in the fight against spam will gather to discuss greater collaborative efforts to combat spam and related threats.

A number of organizations worldwide are actively engaged in the fight against spam, but a solution cannot be found unless these organizations share knowledge of the work they have undertaken to date, pinpoint potential overlaps and cooperate to address the gaps. Unsolicited commercial communications by e-mail represent a major plague threatening the Digital World. This workshop will consider specific practical next steps that can be taken to work toward a common countering spam cooperation agenda.

The first symptoms of spam were mild irritation to users. Now the disease has progressed to the point where spammers are sending billions of messages per day, choking off the legitimate email correspondence that needs to flow freely within and between organizations and all inhabitants of the Digital World. Today, spam represents around 90% of all email messages.

Robert Shaw, Deputy Head, ITU Strategy and Policy Unit, comments: "Monty Python's new musical Spamalot might be hot fare in the comedy fan's world, but for the Digital World spam is no laughing matter. Not only is it a nuisance, it is now the primary mechanism to deliver viruses used to hijack millions of home computers which are then used without their owner's knowledge to relay on even more spam. These "zombie armies" are used to send out "phishing" attacks intended to dupe unwary users to give up personal financial details which are used to siphon money out of their back accounts."

Shaw noted: "Spam has got to be canned. People are losing their life savings and suffering credit problems, and businesses losing vital sales and customer trust because of downtime. Above all, it has seriously undermined user confidence in online activities, hampering the development of the digital economy. The organizations represented in this event have got a message to the world's top spammers: no matter where you are in the world, we are going to work closely together to track you down and put you out of business."

The day-long event will gather top experts in the field and share information on the very latest trends in scams, malware and fraud. The meeting will be opened by ITU Deputy Secretary-General Roberto Blois who will emphasize that it represents a reinforcement of ITU's growing focus on cybersecurity issues. Mr Blois said: "At last month's ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Turkey, our 191 Member States singled out cybersecurity one of our highest priorities. You will see some new pro-active initiatives from ITU in this domain during the 2007 timeframe. ITU is indeed uniquely positioned to take up this challenge - our membership includes both governments and private companies and it's the only forum where we can all work together on these issues."

The event will be chaired by Constance Bommelaer, Manager of Public Policy for the Internet Society (ISOC) and encompasses a series of sessions, including:

1. Setting the Stage: The evolution of Spam and related threats

Latest trends in spam techniques

2. Countering Spam: China Country Case Study

As the world's largest telecommunications market for fixed-line, mobile and soon overall broadband subscribers the People's Republic of China presents an interesting case study of dealing with spam and broader cybersecurity threats. What is China's approach? 3. Countering Spam: Country Experiences

Explores a number of country experiences in countering spam as well as the particular challenges that developing countries face in dealing with spam and broader cybersecurity threats 4. Regional and International Cooperation Frameworks

Experiences gained by a number of regional and international government-related cooperation frameworks that have emerged in the last few years

The event will conclude with specific proposals on how better cooperation can be coordinated globally among relevant organizations participating in the event: these include Microsoft; AOL; the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), ISOC, Internet Society of China, the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau, Hong Kong; the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA); Internet Initiative, Japan; Outblaze, India; International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), UK; Asia-Pacific Telecommunity, Bangkok, Thailand; Malaysian Communications & Multimedia Commission and APEC-TEL's e-Security Task Group.

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