It Takes a Village

Posted by: Chris Boyer on September 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Cybersecurity.  Cyberwarfare.  Cyber criminals. The words alone are unnerving and the issues they raise are challenging and deeply complex.  I’ve been working in this area for a while now and I’m still amazed by its ever-changing landscape.  Protecting our nation’s networks is critical and a top priority for network operators as well as regulators and lawmakers.  But the entire Internet ecosystem – and that includes applications, devices and users – play integral roles in effective cybersecurity.  Indeed, it takes a village.

As we approach Cybersecurity Awareness Month, you’ll be hearing a great deal more about the issue, from the government, industry, consumer groups and others.

At AT&T, cybersecurity is something we think about 24/7.  So, I thought today that I would highlight recent comments we filed on the matter with both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  I’ll try not to get too far in the weeds but I want to draw attention to some important issues policymakers are grappling with and the potential effects they could have in this very sensitive area.

We agree with the cyber attack finding in this IBM report that the primary vulnerabilities occur at the software, application, device and user layers. And according to a study conducted by Verizon, 87% of data breaches were considered avoidable through the use of reasonable controls.

Cyber criminals are increasingly exploiting user carelessness and naïveté.  One of the top ten security threat trends for 2010 identified by Symantec was the use of social engineering.  Attackers are going directly after the end user and attempting to trick them into downloading malware or divulging sensitive information.  And the challenges are complicated by the evolving nature of cyber threats.  

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AT&T Statement on FCC’s
E911 Location Accuracy Order

Posted by: Margaret Boles on September 23, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Washington, D.C. – The FCC today adopted an order that establishes performance benchmarks and an implementation schedule for wireless carriers when providing enhanced 9-1-1 (E911) location accuracy at the county level, instead of the current network-wide metric.  In addition, the Commission released a further notice of proposed rulemaking and notice of inquiry to address various next generation 9-1-1 (NG911) issues. The following statement may be attributed to Joan Marsh, AT&T Vice President-Federal Regulatory:

“AT&T commends the FCC for developing effective wireless E911 performance and reporting requirements that will greatly benefit the public. Today’s order, which is the result of close collaboration between the wireless industry, public safety and the FCC, marks an important step forward in bringing federal regulations up to speed with advancements in technology and enabling first responders to receive more meaningful location information during emergencies. It is through these types of collaborative efforts that progress is made to continually improve public safety.”

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AT&T Statement On
Broadband for America Poll

Posted by: Michael Balmoris on September 23, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Today, Broadband for America released a survey that found that more than 75 percent of respondents agree that the Internet is currently working, and more than 55 percent oppose federal government regulation of the Internet. The following statement may be attributed to Jim Cicconi, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs:

“This poll demonstrates once again what most everyone involved with the net neutrality issue already knows—that despite the fear-mongering of a few fringe groups, the American people overwhelmingly reject the idea of government regulation in the Internet space.  Tellingly, even the few who do want more government oversight are worried about very different things—identity theft, pornography, spam and malware.   The rest, by huge margins, feel the Internet is working well and reject government involvement.

“We should keep this hard data in mind when we see the increasingly juvenile tactics of Free Press and others.  Waffles and intimidation are hardly the ingredients of intelligent debate.  But with public opinion so clearly stacked against them, I suppose one understands why groups like Free Press prefer regulatory fiat to the idea of Congress addressing the net neutrality issue.  They know that, if put to the test—a true test of public sentiment through the peoples’ elected representatives—their agenda will be rejected overwhelmingly.”

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Giving Consumers
Control with AdChoices

Posted by: Bob Quinn on September 22, 2010 at 1:05 pm

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I usually write about issues concerning the reclassification of broadband and comic strips. Well, now you can throw privacy issues into the mix since I recently took on the role of AT&T’s Chief Privacy Officer.  Dorothy Attwood is moving on to a new challenge and has left some big shoes to fill. I’m looking forward to the challenge of continuing the great work she has done in this area. Protecting consumers’ privacy is a top priority for AT&T and I am personally committed to building on the company’s leadership in this area.

As I kick off my new gig, I thought I’d highlight a new (and pretty cool) initiative we recently launched that helps to not only educate consumers about how their online data is gathered but also how they can better control its use.

As the Internet is constantly evolving, so too are the tools we use to protect consumers’ privacy online.  Last week, AT&T became one of the first major advertisers to put the new symbol indicating interest-based advertising on its ads.  The symbol, the “power i,” is part of the AdChoices tool and was developed in response to calls for greater transparency regarding interest-based advertising.

The goal is that, one day, all interest-based online ads will be labeled with the same “power i” in order to give consumers a consistent way to recognize interest-based ads.  Clicking on the symbol will give consumers the opportunity to learn more about how companies gather and use their browsing information for targeted online advertising purposes and how consumers can opt-out of allowing such use.

The AdChoices tool offers increased consumer control, more transparency and the ability to better customize the Web experience.  We’re proud to be an industry leader and early adopter of this exciting technology.

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Getting More for Less in the
Wireless Marketplace, Says GAO

Posted by: Joan Marsh on September 20, 2010 at 3:08 pm

The GAO recently released a report on competition in the wireless industry.  The report was overwhelmingly a good news story for American consumers.  First, and most importantly, the report contained a wealth of data confirming that the wireless marketplace is effectively competitive.  For example, it found that there are more than 140 facilities-based companies offering wireless services, with four national carriers, many “small and regional carriers of various sizes,” and at least 60 MVNOs, including Tracfone.

The report also found that usage of wireless services is exploding, both in voice (from 250 minutes per month in 2000 to 750 minutes per month in 2007) and in data.  And yet the average overall price for wireless services has steadily declined over the past decade, with the report finding that average prices declined by 50%.  So, consumers in the U.S. are generally getting more wireless services for lower costs.

Despite all this good news, some cited the report as evidence that dark clouds are gathering, particularly in the area of consolidation.  But let’s be clear – consolidation simply means that carriers have increased their geographic scope and thus increased their scale economies and efficiencies.  And while this undoubtedly has placed additional competitive pressures on all carriers, competition benefits consumers and drives the very price decreases that the report found laudable.  Let’s also not forget that each and every one of these deals was found by the FCC, after a rigorous review, to be in the public interest.

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