Olongapo Telecom & Information Technology

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Another People’s PC project launched

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva INQ7.net

ANOTHER People’s PC project was unveiled last week, this time by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), for government employees.

Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) Chairman Virgilio Peña told reporters Tuesday that the “PC ng Bayan (People’s PC)” is a new initiative that offers a 16,500- to 16,7000-peso Intel and AMD-based PCs that come with new printers.

The PCs are available for purchase through the DBM Procurement Services on a cash basis. There are 10,000 units -- half of them are AMD-based the other are Intel-based -- that will be made available for purchase through local PC distributors.

According to the DBM Procurement Service website (http://www.procurementservice.org/ps/index.cfm?handler=News), the two local distributors of the PCs are Columbia Technologies and Advance Solutions. Both were awarded to supply DBM 10,000 units of unbranded personal computers “as alternatives to the high-priced consumer market dominated by branded PCs,” according to DBM.

The new people’s PC offering will cost 16,500 pesos for an AMD-based unit, and 16,700 pesos for the Intel Celeron-based unit. Both PC packages come with a free color printer (Lexmark 2515) and one load of colored ink.

Interestingly, each PC will come pre-installed with an open source operating system and open office or office works productivity suite, with capability for Internet connection.

Microsoft software is also available as an option at a special prize, DBM said.

The government agency indicated in its website that the purchase mechanics will be posted soon.

The people’s PC of DBM will be available in Metro Manila and other provinces. But initially, the agency disclosed that the affordable PC package will become available in 10 of its regional centers in the country.

Meanwhile, Intel with the CICT is set to announce an upgrade to its “People’s PC” initiative this week, Peña said.

The CICT official said Intel will be offering “upgraded PCs for the expanded People’s PC initiative.”

He did not disclose the specifications of the new PCs that will be offered under this program. He, however, revealed that Intel would introduce a financing scheme through a bank as an additional component to the People’s PC program.

The Development Bank of the Philippines Data Center Inc. announced last week a similar people’s PC initiative, dubbed “Kompyuter sa Bawat Pilipino Movement (KPM).” It is a computer deployment project for Filipinos in the grassroots, targeting housewives, out-of-school youth, returning overseas workers and other home-based Filipinos, according to DCI Chief Operating Officer Andrew Martino Guitarte.

Under the KPM project, Filipinos in target provinces can acquire a People’s PC unit with either a wi-fi or wi-max connection as well as basic desktop functions.

PCIJ blog hacked

At 4:16 p.m. Monday, the PCIJ blog (www.pcij.org/blog/) was penetrated by a hacker who managed to post a long letter titled "A Hacker's Journey." The PCIJ blog, hosted by a United States-based firm, had only been accessible to seven writers of the PCIJ.

Police to look into PCIJ blog hacking

According to a posting by Alecks Pabico (http://www.pcij.org/blog/?p=154), one of PCIJ’s regular blog contributors, the timing of the attack was uncanny as it came on the day when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo finally broke her silence on the issue of the taped conversations.

“The attack, however, came as no surprise to us, having been made aware by some of our sources that certain quarters since last week have been trying to get the services of hackers to take our blog down. We can only surmise why. Since the controversy surrounding the supposed taped conversations between Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano broke out in the news, our blog has been providing access to the audio files and transcripts of the tape versions to an information-hungry public,” Pabico added.

The hacker known as “Rebz” made an unauthorized entry in the PCIJ blog and left his name as a sign of the security breach, Pabico said.

Rebz, who is also known as Rebarz99, is a notorious hacker that has been attacking websites all over the world, including the SMS portals of local mobile content providers, Sosa said.

Sosa said that the police have a dossier on the Filipino hacker but have not arrested or filed a case against him for lack of complainants.

Monday, June 27, 2005

NTC issues rules for frequency band allocation for wireless technology

By Mary Ann Ll. Reyes The Philippine Star

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has issued a set of proposed guidelines that will govern the allocation of frequency bands for broadband wireless access to the limited radio spectrum and the use of a cost-effective technology.

Broadband wireless access has been defined as a technology aimed at providing wireless access to data networks, with high data rates. The most widely-used technologies are local multipoint distribution service, (LMDS) and multichannel multi-point distribution service, also known as MMDS or wireless cable.

LMDS is a broadband wireless access technology that uses microwave signals operating between the 26 gigahertz (GHz) and 29GHz bands. It is a point-to-multipoint service, hence is typically deployed for access by multiple parties. Links up to five miles from the base station are possible.

On the one hand, MMDS is a wireless telecommunications technology, used for general purpose broadband networking or more commonly, as an alternative method of cable television programming reception. It is used in sparsely populated rural areas, where laying cables is not economically viable. The MMDS band uses microwave frequencies from two to three GHz in range. Reception of MMDS-delivered television signals is done with a special rooftop microwave antenna and a set-top box for the television receiving the signals. The receiver box is very similar in appearance to an analog cable television receiver box.

Under the draft rules which will be the subject of a public hearing on July 12, the NTC proposed to reallocate certain bands for broadband wireless access for fixed, nomadic, and mobile networks. These bands include 410 - 495 MHz; 1900 - 1910 MHz; 1980 - 1990 MHz; 2400 - 2483 MHz; 2500 - 2700 MHz; 3400 - 3600 MHz; 5150 - 5350 MHz; 5470 - 5850 MHz; and 10150 - 10650 MHz. The transfer of previously authorized persons or entities operating radio stations within the above listed radio frequency bands shall be governed by an earlier NTC ruling, the NTC said.

The NTC explained that the reallocation is in support of the government’s objectives to push the country’s socio-economic agenda through information and communication technologies (ICT) and achieving the goal of digital inclusion, enabling universal, sustainable, ubiquitous and affordable access.

According to the NTC, wireless access is one of the recognized solutions in providing ICT access in developing and remote (rural) and marginalized areas, hard and costly to reach areas using the traditional wirelines and thus prevent the widening of the digital divide or technology barrier.

The commission noted that new advances in wireless technologies offering high-speed portable and mobile connectivity can help bridge the widening digital divide. The World Summit of the Information Society (WSIS) Plan of Action to which the Philippines is a signatory, has set out objectives to help increase connectivity for underserved areas such as remote and sparsely populated areas, it added.

It also pointed out that the government is mandated under the Public Telecommunications Act to allocate the spectrum to service providers to meet public demand for telecommunications services.

This, it added, is in line with the thrust of the government to promote and facilitate ICT throughout the country. "ICT access and connectivity and development of ICT skills are becoming more important in economies around the world, improving efficiency and welfare and creating an equitable and efficient information society," the NTC said.

Anti-Wiretapping Law

An act to prohibit and penalize wiretapping and other related violations of the privacy of communication, and for other purposes.

Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person, not being authorized by all the parties to any private communication or spoken word, to tap any wire or cable, or by using any other device or arrangement, to secretly overhear, intercept, or record such communication or spoken word by using a device commonly known as a Dictaphone or dictograph or detectaphone or walkie-talkie or tape recorder, or however otherwise described:

It shall also be unlawful for any person, be he a participant or not in the act or acts penalized in the next preceding sentence, to knowingly possess any tape record, wire record, disc record, or any other such record, or copies thereof, of any communication or spoken word secured either before or after the effective date of this Act in the manner prohibited by this law; or to replay the same for any other person or persons; or to communicate the contents thereof, either verbally or in writing, or to furnish transcriptions thereof, whether complete or partial, to any other person:

Provided, That the use of such record or any copies thereof as evidence in any civil, criminal investigation or trial of offenses mentioned in Section 3 hereof, shall not be covered by this prohibition.

Section 2. Any person who willfully or knowingly does or who shall aid, permit, or cause to be done any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the preceding section or who violates the provisions of the following section or of any order issued thereunder, or aids, permits, or causes such violation shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by imprisonment for not less than six months or more than six years and with the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification from public office if the offender be a public official at the time of the commission of the offense, and, if the offender is an alien he shall be subject to deportation proceedings.

Section 3. Nothing contained in this Act, however, shall render it unlawful or punishable for any peace officer, who is authorized by a written order of the Court, to execute any of the acts declared to be unlawful in the two preceding sections in cases involving the crimes of treason, espionage, provoking war and disloyalty in case of war, piracy, mutiny in the high seas, rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, inciting to sedition, kidnapping as defined by the Revised Penal Code, and violations of Commonwealth Act 616, punishing espionage and other offenses against national security: Provided, That such written order shall only be issued or granted upon written application and the examination under oath or affirmation of the applicant and the witnesses he may produce and a showing: (1) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that any of the crimes enumerated hereinabove has been committed or is being committed or is about to be committed: Provided, however, that in cases involving the offenses of rebellion, conspiracy and proposal to commit rebellion, inciting to rebellion, sedition, conspiracy to commit sedition, and inciting to sedition, such authority shall be granted only upon prior proof that a rebellion or acts of sedition, as the case may be, have actually been or are being committed; (2) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that evidence will be obtained essential to the conviction of any person for, or to the solution of, or to the prevention of, any such crimes; and (3) that there are no other means readily available for obtaining such evidence.

The order granted or issued shall specify: (1) the identity of the person or persons whose communications, conversations, discussions, or spoken words are to be overheard, intercepted, or recorded and, in the case of telegraphic or telephonic communications, the telegraph line or the telephone number involved and its location; (2) the identity of the peace officer authorized to overhear, intercept, or record the communications, conversations, discussions, or spoken words; (3) the offense or offenses committed or sought to be prevented; and (4) the period of the authorization. The authorization shall be effective for the period specified in the order which shall not exceed 60 days from the date of issuance of the order, unless extended or renewed by the court upon being satisfied that such extension or renewal is in the public interest.

All recordings made under court authorization shall, within forty-eight hours after the expiration of the period fixed in the order, be deposited with the court in a sealed envelope or sealed package, and shall be accompanied by an affidavit of the peace officer granted such authority stating the number of recordings made, the dates and times covered by each recording, the number of tapes, discs, or records included in the deposit, and certifying that no duplicates or copies of the whole or any part thereof have been made, or if made, that all such duplicates or copies are included in the envelope or package deposited with the court. The envelope or package so deposited shall not be opened, or the recordings replayed, or used in evidence, or their contents revealed, except upon order of the court, which shall not be granted except upon motion, with due notice and opportunity to be heard to the person or persons whose conversation or communications have been recorded.

The court referred to in this section shall be understood to mean the Court of First Instance within whose territorial jurisdiction the acts for which authority is applied for are to be executed.

Section 4. Any communication or spoken word, or the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the same or any part thereof, or any information therein contained obtained or secured by any person in violation of the preceding sections of this Act shall not be admissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation.

Section 5. All laws inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed or accordingly amended.

Section 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

This Law was approved June 19, 1965

‘Ransomware’ to bring online havoc, security experts warn

By melvin g. calimag , MB

A recent security summit organized by Microsoft Philippines brought into the local limelight — possibly for the first time — a new social engineering technique called "ransomware" which, according to security experts, may become more widespread if not addressed early.

Ransomware is a scam in which information is stolen from a computer user. The information is then encrypted, blocking the user access to the data unless a ransom is paid.

"What makes it dangerous is the fact that it is beyond the reach of traditional computer security firms because a human element, which is the paying of ransom, is involved," said Viren Mantri, a strategic security services principal for Southeast Asia and India of McAfee.

Mantri related that a number of incidents involving ransomware have been recorded in the United Kingdom where gaming sites were forced to pay up after they were hijacked so they can continue offering games to their subscribers.

So far, there have been no reported cases of ransomware in the Philippines. But it will be a just matter of time before it reaches local shores, he warned.

An AFP wire story quoted Symantec, a manufacturer of anti-virus programs, was able to track down a case in the US in which a ransomware entered the computer via holes in the victim’s Web browser, scanned the hard drive, and encrypted any text-based documents it found.

The new threat erased the text files then displayed a ransom note demanding $200 to supply decryption software that will restore the data back to its original, readable form, the report added.

What is ironic in ransomware, according to IDTheftSecurity.com founder Robert Siciliano, is that it employs encryption — a technology originally meant for security of online activity.

"Ransomware’s victims… probably haven’t heard of the scam, just as most people had not heard of phishing until recently," Siciliano stated. "The problem is in the awareness — or lack thereof."

Ransomware and phishing — the practice of sending an e-mail to solicit private information by false representation — were just some of the social engineering techniques employed by scammers that were discussed during the forum aimed at heightening awareness on security issues in the local front.

The summit, attended by IT security personnel from various local organizations, tackled how to recognize and combat social engineering — the preferred mode among scammers nowadays because victims are easily tricked to release private information.

"Social engineering is successful because it appeals to the individual, which oftentimes fuels his greed for things like money," said Jojo Ayson, head of platform security of Microsoft Philippines.

The Microsoft official said as a rule of thumb, one should not follow a certain instruction sent via the Internet unless it has been authenticated.

For Karl Verhuist, director for product marketing for Asia South of Computer Associates (CA), the best weapon against social engineering is education. CA also sells security solutions, including anti-virus and anti-spywares.

"Seventy-five percent of computer users are not aware of these social engineering techniques. Educating the people and making them aware of the dangers that they bring is obviously an important tool that can be tapped," he said.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Dep’t of ICT will help improve RP image

By Erwin Lemuel Oliva INQ7.net

THE CREATION of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) will help improve the Philippine government's image as its shows the rest of the world that this administration is serious about its role in governance, the Bureau of Customs Deputy Commissioner Alexander Arevalo told INQ7.net on Friday.

"We'll lose this chance to show the world that we're indeed serious about ICT and its role in governance. Now is the perfect time to have one," he said. Arevalo has recently been named chairman of two ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) bodies – the organization of it information and communications technology heads and an inter-agency task force for the "Single Window" customs initiative.

He disagreed with the impression that the ICT department was created for the sake of having one and because other Asian countries have done so. DICT should not be perceived as just a "new department," he added, but an effort to improve governance in the Philippines amid the country’s political and economic crisis.

The ICT department will help boost the Philippines’ competitiveness under the circumstances, he stressed. "ICT won't determine the success of our economy although it is now considered one of the sunshine industries. But it will contribute to the economic development," he said.

The ICT department will also allow government to synergize ICT efforts in government and manage IT resources across all government agencies, translating to cost savings for government, Arevalo added.

"I'm not saying that all projects should be centralized. What we need is a body to set the general direction and policies of e-governance in the country," Arevalo said.

The Bureau of Customs has recently been concerned with integrating its ICT projects with other agencies. "We have realized lately that we have to interconnect with other agencies so that we can collaborate under a 'single window,'" he said. "As far as we're concerned, this is very difficult to achieve if we work bilaterally. It should be multi-lateral."

Arevalo also stressed that the creation of ICT department should not be viewed from only a "technological" standpoint. "The ICT department is not only about automation. It is mundane to look at it this way. It is not about computers but it is about governance. ICT cuts vertically and horizontally across all government agencies," he stressed.

"ICT is going to develop at its pace. But if we want to compete in the world, we will need to operate faster than 60 seconds a minute. And you can't do that if you don't use e-mail, for instance. The department of ICT is not an end but a means to make the Philippines a better country 20 years from now. The department will accelerate our development, thereby improving our image," said Arevalo who graduated cum laude at the Philippine Military Academy in 1982 as well as enjoyed stints in Harvard and the Asian Institute of Management.