Internet Protocol

Caribbean Businesses Can Make Good Use of Free DNS Security

By Gerard Best

IBM Security, Packet Clearing House (PCH) and Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) unveiled a free Domain Name System (DNS) service designed to protect all Internet users from a wide range of common cyber threats. Launched on November 16 with simultaneous press events in London, Maputo and New York, the public DNS resolver has strong privacy and security features built-in, and can be enabled with a few changes to network settings, as outlined on the organization’s website.

Using the IP address, the aptly named Quad9 service leverages IBM X-Force threat intelligence and further correlates with more than a dozen additional threat intelligence feeds from leading cybersecurity firms, in order to help keep individual users’ data and devices safe. It automatically protects users from accessing any website or internet address identified as dangerous.

“Leveraging threat intelligence is a critical way to stay ahead of cybercriminals,” Jim Brennan, Vice President Strategy and Offering Management, IBM Security, said in a release. “Consumers and small businesses traditionally didn’t have free, direct access to the raw data used by security firms to protect big businesses. With Quad9, we’re putting that data to work for the industry in an open way and further enriching those insights via the community of users. Through IBM’s donating use of the address to Quad9, we’re applying these collaborative defense techniques while giving users greater privacy controls.”

The open, free service became the latest to provide security to end users on a global scale by leveraging the DNS system to deliver a smart threat intelligence feed.

“Quad9 is a free layer of protection that can put the DNS to work for all Internet users,” said John Todd, executive director of Quad9. “It allows optional encryption of the query between the user and the server, and it minimises the amount of data that can leak to unknown destinations. And it uses DNSSEC to cryptographically validate the content of the DNS answers that it’s passing back to users for domain names that implement this security feature.”

It allows users to select from secure and unsecured service, the latter being for more advanced users who may have specific reasons they want to get to malware or phishing sites, or who want to perform testing against an unfiltered DNS recursive resolver. The service can also be extended to IoT devices, which face vulnerabilities such as botnet command-and-control requests.

Not only does Quad9 help Internet users avoid millions of malicious websites, but it also promises to help keep their browsing habits private. Deep-pocketed online advertisers are constantly investing in ways to take personal data from unsuspecting Internet users, in order to edge out competitors and expand markets. Frequently, low-security DNS servers are used to build extensive personal profiles of Internet users, including their browsing habits, location and identity. Many DNS providers, including many larger ISPs, are already in the lucrative business of storing personal data for resale to market research firms or digital advertising groups.

A further blow was struck in April when the US Federal Communications Commission repealed broadband privacy rules that would have required Internet service providers to get consumer consent before selling or sharing personal information with advertisers and other companies. But the fight is far from over. With the launch of Quad9, a group of Internet non-profits has made available a free service specifically designed to put Internet users back in control of their personal data.

The service is deliberately engineered to not store or analyze personally identifiable information (PII). Todd said that decision was, in part, a deliberate stance against the ingrained practice among Internet service providers (ISPs) who collect and resell private information to commercial data brokers such as online marketers.

“Our foremost goal is to protect Internet users from malicious actors, whether the threat be from malware or fraud or the nonconsensual monetization of their privacy. Quad9 doesn’t collect or store any PII, including Internet Protocol addresses. We don’t have accounts or profiles or ask who our users are. Since we don’t collect personal information, it can’t be sold or stolen,” he said.

The new service comes at a time when better protection of consumer data and Internet user privacy are being demanded by stakeholders, including governments. In May 2018, the European Union will adopt the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of sweeping regulations meant to protect the personal data and privacy of its citizens.

Like their counterparts in Europe and USA, Caribbean stakeholders also stand to gain from these security and privacy benefits. By some estimates, global cybercrime will cost approximately $6 trillion per year on average through 2021. For businesses in developing economies of the Caribbean, cybercrime is a major concern. Around the region, legislators, law enforcement officials and security experts are locked in a struggle to keep pace with the escalating sophistication of transnational cybercriminal operations. The high cost typically involved in protecting against attacks by blocking them through DNS could explain why that technique has not been used widely by Caribbean businesses and Internet users.

“Sophisticated corporations can subscribe to dozens of threat feeds and block them through DNS, or pay a commercial provider for the service. However, small to medium-sized businesses and consumers have been left behind — they lack the resources or are not aware of what can be done with DNS. Quad9 solves these problems. It is memorable, easy to use, relies on excellent and broad threat information, protects privacy and security, and is free,” Phil Reitinger, president and CEO of GCA, said in a release.

The new Quad9 service shares the global infrastructure of PCH, a US-based non-profit which has over the last two decades established the world’s largest authoritative DNS service network, extending from heavily networked parts of North America, Europe and Asia to the less well-connected areas of sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean. PCH hosts multiple root letters and more than 300 TLDs on thousands of servers in 150 locations across the globe.

Quad 9 has 100 points of presence in 59 countries, including 12 in the Caribbean, and plans to double that location count by 2019. Leveraging the expertise and global assets of PCH, the new DNS service promises to offer security and privacy to users in the Caribbean, without compromising speed. Bill Woodcock, executive director of Packet Clearing House, said Quad9 users in those regions could actually experience noticeable improvements in performance and resiliency.

“Many DNS service providers are not sufficiently provisioned to be able to support high-volume input/output and caching, and adequately balance load among their servers. But Quad9 uses large caches, and load-balances user traffic to ensure shared caching, letting us answer a large fraction of queries from cache. Because Quad9 shares the PCH DNS infrastructure platform, all root and most TLD queries can be answered locally within the same stack of servers, without passing query onward and making it vulnerable to interception and collection by others. When Quad9 does have to pass a query onward to a server outside of our control, unlike other recursive resolvers, we use a variety of techniques to ensure that the very minimum necessary information leaves our network and users’ privacy is maximised,” he said.

“This is a service that is squarely aimed at improving the Internet security and privacy situation for the global Internet user base, not just the developed world,” he added. “The fact that we can do it faster is just icing on the cake.”

Written by Gerard Best, Development Journalist

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More under: Cybersecurity, DNS, DNS Security, Privacy

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Avenue4 Helps IPv4 Sellers and Buyers Gain Market Access, Overcome Complexities

With more than 30 years combined experience providing legal counsel to the technology industry, Avenue4’s principals have established unique expertise in the IPv4 industry, driving transparency and professionalism in the IPv4 market.

Co-founded by Marc Lindsey and Janine Goodman, Avenue4 possesses a deep understanding of the current market conditions surrounding IPv4 address trading and transfers. Through a broad network of contacts within Fortune 500 organizations, Avenue4 has gathered a significant inventory of IPv4 numbers. Leveraging this inventory and its reputation within the IT and telecom industries, Avenue4 is creating value for sellers and helping buyers make IPv6 adoption decisions that maximize return on their existing IPv4 infrastructure investments.

Understanding the IPv4 Market

Internet Protocol addresses, or IP addresses, are essential to the operation of the Internet. Every device needs an IP address in order to connect to the Internet, and then to communicate with other devices, computers, and services. IPv4 is Version 4 of the Internet Protocol in use today. The finite quantity of IPv4 addresses, which had generally been available (for free) through Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) — such as American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN) are exhausted, and additional IPv4 addresses are only available in the North American, European and Asia Pacific regions through trading (or transfers) in the secondary market.

The next-generation Internet Protocol, IPv6, provides a near limitless free supply of IP addresses from the RIRs. However, IPv6 is not backward compatible with IPv4, which currently dominates the vast majority of Internet traffic. Migration to IPv6 can be costly — requiring significant upgrades to an organization’s IP network infrastructure (e.g., installing and configuring IPv6 routers, switches, firewalls, other security devices, and enhancing IP-enabled software, and then running both IPv4 and IPv6 networks concurrently). As a result, the global migration to IPv6 has progressed slowly — with many organizations planning their IPv6 deployments as long-term projects. Demand for IPv4 numbers will, therefore, likely continue to be strong for several more years.

Supplying Choice

Avenue4 specializes in connecting buyers and sellers of IPv4 addresses and provides access to a supply of IPv4 address space. The availability of this supply provides organizations with a viable choice to support their existing networks while the extended migration to IPv6 is underway. Although the supply of IPv4 address space has contracted relative to demand over the last 12 months, the IPv4 trading market provides network operators breathing room to develop and execute IPv6 deployment plans that are appropriate for their businesses.

Expertise Needed

Organizations in need of IPv4 addresses can purchase them from entities with unused addresses, and the transfer of control resulting from such sales can be effectively recorded in the regional Internet Registry (RIR) system pursuant to their market-based registration transfer policies. However, structuring and closing transactions can be complex, and essential information necessary to make smart buy/sell decisions are not readily available. Succeeding in the market requires advisors with up-to-date knowledge about the nuances of the commercial, contractual, and Internet governance policies that shape IPv4 market transactions. With its deep experience, Avenue4 LLC cultivates transactions most likely to reach closure, structures creative and value-enhancing arrangements, and then takes those transactions to closure through the negotiation and registration transfer processes. By successfully navigating these challenges to broker, structure and negotiate some of the largest and most complex IPv4 transactions to date, Avenue4 has emerged as one of the industry’s most trusted IPv4 market advisors.

Avenue4 has focused on providing the counsel and guidance necessary to complete high-value transactions that meet the sellers’ market objectives, and provide buyers with flexibility and choice. When Avenue4 is engaged in deals, we believe that sellers and buyers should feel confident that the transactions we originate will be structured with market-leading terms, executed ethically, and closed protecting the negotiated outcome.

Avenue4’s leadership team has advised some of the largest and most sophisticated holders of IPv4 number blocks. The principals of Avenue4, however, believe that technology enabled services are the key to making the market more accessible to all participants. With the launch of its new online trading platform, ACCELR/8, Avenue4 is now bringing the same level of expertise and process maturity to the small and mid-size block market.

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The Internet is Dead – Long Live the Internet

By Juha Holkkola

Back in the early 2000s, several notable Internet researchers were predicting the death of the Internet. Based on the narrative, the Internet infrastructure had not been designed for the scale that was being projected at the time, supposedly leading to fatal security and scalability issues. Yet somehow the Internet industry has always found a way to dodge the bullet at the very last minute.

While the experts projecting gloom and doom have been silent for the good part of the last 15 years, it seems that the discussion on the future of the Internet is now resurfacing. Some industry pundits such as Karl Auerbach have pointed out that essential parts of Internet infrastructure such as the Domain Name System (DNS) are fading from users’ views. Others such as Jay Turner are predicting the downright death of the Internet itself.

Looking at the developments over the last five years, there are indeed some powerful megatrends that seem to back up the arguments made by the two gentlemen:

  • As the mobile has penetrated the world, it has created a shift from browser-based services into mobile applications. Although not many people realize this, the users of mobile apps do not really have to interface the Internet infrastructure at all. Instead, they simply push the buttons in the app and the software is intelligent enough to take care off the rest. Because of these developments, key services in the Internet infrastructure are gradually disappearing from the plain sight of the regular users.
  • As Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing gain momentum, the enterprise side of the market is increasingly concerned about the level of information security. Because the majority of these threats originate from the public Internet, building walls between private networks and the public Internet has become an enormous business. With emerging technologies such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN), we are now heading towards a world littered with private networks that expand from traditional enterprise setups into public clouds, isolated machine networks and beyond.

Once these technology trends have played their course, it is quite likely that the public Internet infrastructure and the services it provides will no longer be directly used by most people. In this sense, I believe both Karl Auerbach and Jay Turner are quite correct in their assessments.

Yet at the same time, both the mobile applications and the secure private networks that move the data around will continue to be highly dependent on the underlying public Internet infrastructure. Without a bedrock on which the private networks and the public cloud services are built, it would be impossible to transmit the data. Due to this, I believe that the Internet will transform away from the open public network it was originally supposed to be.

As an outcome of this process, I further believe that the Internet infrastructure will become a utility that is very similar to the electricity grids of today. While almost everyone benefits from them on daily basis, only electric engineers are interested in their inner workings or have a direct access to them. So essentially, the Internet will become a ubiquitous transport layer for the data that flows within the information societies of tomorrow.

From the network management perspective, the emergence of the secure overlay networks running on top of the Internet will introduce a completely new set of challenges. While network automation can carry out much of the configuration and management work, it will cause networks to disappear from the plain sight in a similar way to mobile apps and public network services. This calls for new operational tools and processes required to navigate in this new world.

Once all has been said and done, the chances are that the Internet infrastructure we use today will still be there in 2030. However, instead of being viewed as an open network that connects the world, it will have evolved into a transport layer that is primarily used for transmitting encrypted data.

The Internet is Dead — Long Live the Internet.

Written by Juha Holkkola, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc.

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More under: Access Providers, Broadband, Cloud Computing, Cybersecurity, Data Center, DDoS, DNS, Domain Names, Internet of Things, Internet Protocol, IP Addressing, IPv6, Mobile Internet, Networks, Telecom, Web

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Five Questions: Making Sure Cable is at Consumer Tech’s Table

By Cablefax Staff

Once a group concentrated more on TV makers and other CE manufacturers, the Consumer Technology Association (formerly the Consumer Electronics Association) is increasingly overlapping with the cable industry. As the Internet of Things proliferates and streaming video’s play widens, there’s even more room for collaboration. Among the areas cable and CTA are working together is WAVE, an interoperability effort for commercial Internet video or OTT that includes Comcast, Cox and others. We chatted with CTA Research and Standards svp Brian Markwalter recently about the intersection of the two industries.

Are there any cable companies that stand out to you from a technology perspective?

Sure, I’d say one in particular is a member so I guess we have more interaction—Comcast. Most of the big cable companies participate in our standards process so we have exposure from them on the technical side. We also have worked with CableLabs off and on over the years. I think there’s a strong relationship between the consumer technology industry and cable in part because people love their technology products and so many things are now connected and entertainment and TV have always been a big part of the consumer experience. So as more and more devices are connected it’s pretty natural that cable companies are part of that experience.

Are the standards and regulations really what stand out to you from the technology side of cable?

Yes, there does tend to be quite a bit of coordinating. We’ve coordinated on things like Internet protocol IPv6 transition, we coordinate on how devices attached to cable systems and I think that will continue to work on those kinds of issues. I’m sure there will be ongoing conversations about security and improving the overall cyber security footprint for devices. We all want consumers to have secure networks. It will take kind of a layered approach where the devices have security and the networks have security too.

Where do you see cable and technology intersecting in the future?

I think there’s kind of a cycle where sometimes consumers are adopting technology first and then the providers. I’d put tablets in that realm where consumers started buying tablets pretty quickly and there was fast ramp up. People, cable companies and others had to learn how to get content to those devices. I think we’ll continue to see that kind of cycle of cable-making advances improving speed and services and then consumers finding things in the market that they like. So right now, there’s fast growth in connected product stuff. Consumer IoT marketplace, health and fitness devices, smart home type products, and we also see the more advanced cable operators are learning how to integrate those things into their offerings. For example, doing smart home or security services for their customers.

Is there anything about cable that you think might be irrelevant in the future?

No, I don’t think so. I think everybody is adapting. We’re all working together. Cable is participating in a very big CTA project [WAVE] around streaming media, streaming video to the home. People are trying to simplify that process, and create more common ways to do that built on HTML5. I think the services and models will adapt—as we all are from more of a broadcast structure—to more interactive and personalized content and services. But I think cable is positioned pretty well to do that.

Do cable companies have much of a presence at CES?

Yes, for sure. There’s three ways the industries have a presence. There’s on the show floor and exhibits, there’s meetings and meeting rooms, which is common, and then just being there to soak up the technology and being with people. So, we know for sure that there’s a large number of cable technologists that come to the show. We know that cable CTOs often do tours of the show and we’ve helped coordinate that.

The post Five Questions: Making Sure Cable is at Consumer Tech’s Table appeared first on Cablefax.

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Leading Lights 2017 Finalists: Most Innovative IoT/M2M Strategy (Service Provider)

By Iain Morris Our short list for the most innovative IoT/M2M strategy service provider includes a mainstream network operator, the world’s biggest maker of Internet Protocol network equipment, a smart grid specialist and a ‘digital agriculture’ hub.

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