ICANN Tables Current Agenda

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbes is tabling many of
its current projects to work on issues that affect the Internet’s security
and stability, officials said Thursday.

That means current hot-button issues like domain slamming, country code
top-level domains (ccTLDs) and at-large membership will be put on hold at
the upcoming November ICANN meeting in Marina del Ray, CA.

Instead, attendees will focus on ways to reassess potential threats under
the purview of ICANN’s charter and how to improve their
readiness. Officials said this wasn’t just an American problem, but
“answers to these questions are urgent and of worldwide importance.”

Stuart Lynn, ICANN president, said the events on Sept. 11 called for all
organizations to rethink their policies.

“The Internet is global in reach, as are the threats of terrorism. The
events of September 11 offered a stark and tragic reminder of the
incalculable importance of a reliable and secure naming and addressing
system to support emergency response, personal and other communications,
and information sharing. E-mail, instant messaging, and the Web, for
example, all played essential roles.”

ICANN officials weren’t sure whether to continue with their quarterly
meeting in the first place, since the majority of attendees would be coming
in via commercial airlines. A post to the organization’s Web site asked
for recommendations and received overwhelming support for a modified
meeting, Lynn said.

He also acknowledged the impatience many Internet advocates will express
when they find out that important issues are tabled for the time being to
focus on security and stability.

“The effects of such delays have to be measured against the importance of
ensuring the stability and security of the Internet’s naming and addressing
systems,” Lynn said. “I ask for patience on the part of the ICANN
community so that we can concentrate on the issue at hand.”

ICANN officials did not say which issues would be brought forward for
discussion, but instead will ask attendees which items they think is
relevant for debate, and what actions they can take in the event of another
terrorist attack.

Richard Pethia, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT Center, said
that the current rash of Internet worms, like the Code Red and Nimda,
underscore the vulnerabilities of the Internet.

“Problems such as the Nimda worm will occur again, and attack technology
will evolve
to support attacks that are even more virulent and damaging,” Pethia
said. “Our current solutions are not keeping pace with the increased
strength and speed of attacks; our information infrastructures are at risk.
Solutions are not simple, but must be pursued
aggressively to allow us to keep our information infrastructures operating
at acceptable levels of risk.”

While the examples he was talking about were script viruses, Pethia said
the Internet community as a whole, from the governments and organizations
down to the individual would need to re-evaluate and educate themselves on
security issues.

“Additional government support for research, development, and education in
computer and network security would have a positive effect on the overall
security of the Internet,” he concluded.

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