A Hemispheric Messaging Convention–and what the heck does that mean anyway?


I appeared on a panel at a recent ICANN conference, together with my old pals the APWG. We had been fighting the good fight for some years already. What do we hope to accomplish?

There are a number of huge problems in the world of computer security, and they aren’t all technological in nature. One HUGE problem is that we do not have a unity of messaging standards. We all don’t say the same thing, or mean the same thing when we use technical jargon. Those of you who know me well know that this is a pet demon of mine. People use the word virus and mean different things, they mean different things when describing an online crime, they say infected and mean different things. Why is this so important?

Well, if you are pursuing a cyber criminal (Timo gets irked at the use of the word cyber, because it doesn’t mean anything–sorry, Timo) and you cross international lines, you really need for there to be well defined terms to report and describe the nature of the crime and how it is reported. In all other areas there are uniform messaging conventions; customs and tariffs, international visas, time zones, and a thousand other things. Over here in the online security world, we don’t even have a standard vocabulary.

Now, together with the NCSA and the APWG, the US Department of Homeland Security spent a couple of years hammering out the very beginning of a public awareness campaign called  STOP THINK CONNECT. Following on from that there is a recent MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the APWG and the Organization of American States (OAS)

“When the world faced epidemics of Cholera, it took many international conventions to bring about any real cooperation between the world’s nations.” Says Peter Cassidy of the APWG, “This is the beginning of just such an effort to combat e-crime.”

Why do I bother to even bring this to YOUR attention?  It’s another example of how far the issues of security and privacy have come, and how they become central to any progress we will make in the future. This is only one drop in the ocean, and it’s far from a done deal, but each step will help.

There were lots of problems getting the international phone lines to work with this meeting, but you can review it here. (recordings available)


David Perry

Huntington Beach, California–November 7th, 2014

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