Putin takes coronavirus precautions as Moscow unveils tracking app – Security – Software – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

President Vladimir Putin is taking precautions to protect himself against coronavirus, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, as Moscow authorities launched a smartphone app to track people who have been ordered to stay home because of the outbreak.
Putin held a government meeting on Wednesday by video conference a day after a doctor who met him last week said he had been diagnosed with the infectious virus.
Denis Protsenko last week gave Putin a tour of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital and shook hands with the Russian leader. Protsenko is now self-isolating in his office.
The Kremlin, which has said Putin was fine, said the president was keeping his distance from others, preferring to work remotely. It also said Putin was keeping a bottle of antiseptic on his desk.
Asked if Putin had changed the way he greeted people and was keeping a distance, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Of course, now everyone is maintaining a social distance. Everyone is doing this.”
‘Digital concentration camp’
Russia expanded its coronavirus lockdown on Wednesday to cover more of its sprawling territory as the official tally of infections rose to 2,777, after increasing by 440 on one day. Twenty-four people have died in Russia, the authorities say.
Moscow, a bustling metropolis of more than 12.5 million that has become the epicentre of Russia’s outbreak, has come to an eerie standstill since a partial lockdown was imposed on Sunday.
Residents can leave their homes only to buy food or medicine nearby, get urgent medical treatment, walk the dog or take out trash. Red Square remains largely empty except for police who stopped occasional passersby to check their papers.
At a government meeting on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova asked Putin to extend a non-working week he had declared last week to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Her request suggests the lockdown measures could be extended into next week.
Putin also signed legislation on Wednesday allowing the government to declare a state of emergency to fight the virus.
Only the president can declare a state of emergency after he has formally received the support of the upper house of parliament, but lawmakers on Tuesday passed legislation granting the cabinet of ministers the same emergency powers.
A Moscow city official said on Wednesday authorities had developed a smartphone app for residents who have contracted the virus to allow officials to monitor their movements. The app will be available from Thursday, the official, Eduard Lysenko, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
The Russian capital is also preparing to roll out a QR-code system where each resident that registers online will be assigned a unique code that they can show to police officers if stopped when going to the shop or the chemist, he said.
Both measures appeared in an unconfirmed draft blueprint for a city-wide surveillance system that was circulated online this week. Kremlin critics said it risked turning Moscow into a “digital concentration camp”.
Lysenko said anyone without a device that is able to download the tracking app would be lent one by city authorities that they would later return.
Eight southern Russian regions rolled out lockdown measures similar to Moscow’s on Wednesday, meaning more than two thirds of Russia’s more than 80 regions are now in a state of partial lockdown.

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NBN Co records highest ever peak throughput of 13.8Tbps – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

NBN Co has revealed that data flowing through its access network peaked at 13.8Tbps last Friday at 9.15pm AEDT, about 25 percent above levels a month ago.
The company said it will now publish a weekly report as a way to publicly track demand for internet services over its network during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first report shows the download peaks seen by NBN Co at three different times of the day.
In all cases, those peaks are up between 21 percent and 30 percent in the space of a month.

However, peak loads during business hours are still well below those seen in the evenings.
“While the peak throughput recorded in the daytime business hours has steadily climbed, it remains below the busy evening period when the peak data throughput on the main wholesale service is at its highest,” NBN Co said in a statement.
“The increases in throughput in the busy evening period also remain well below the maximum capacity available on the NBN.”
NBN Co said it considered the peak throughput metric to be “the most appropriate measure for growth in data flowing through the network, as it shows when usage is at its highest in each defined period.”
iTnews understands 13.8Tbps is the highest peak throughput the NBN has ever seen in its operating history.
A table published separately shows the peak was hit on Friday March 27 at 9.15pm AEDT.
NBN Co said it expected “the majority of data usage to be mainly dominated by real-time video streaming, web browsing, social media and online gaming.” The peaks coincided with updates to Call of Duty, which are understood to have contributed to the spikes in demand for services.
“However, since the last week of February, there have likely been large increases in the use of video conferencing and business applications as more people work and study from home,” NBN also said.
The detail around throughput also adds some context to a figure disclosed by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher earlier this week, in which he said that “daytime traffic on the NBN [is] up around 70 percent”.

“Since social distancing measures were implemented, traffic on the NBN main wholesale service has also significantly grown with business hours usage increasing by more than 70 percent,” NBN Co confirmed.
The new numbers will be published in the same place as NBN Co provides a monthly view of other network statistics.

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ASD issues warning over cheap and nasty video conferencing – Cloud – Networking – Security – Software – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Australian Signals Directorate has issued an urgent warning to businesses over the use of insecure videoconferencing apps as the use of free or cheap products explodes due to millions of Australians working from home.
The diligently product-agnostic advisory comes as desperate corporate staff separated from their work networks or struggling with skinny VPNs pile onto Zoom, with new Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin citing a thousandfold increase in usage of the app on Optus’ network alone.
On Wednesday iTnews revealed security research concerns over the potential for the Windows version of Zoom to leak credentials, an issue which Zoom has now acknowledged.
A primary concern of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, which is now officially part of ASD, is whether video conference traffic is headed offshore where it could be intercepted and harvested by foreign spy services and hostile actors.
“The use of offshore web conferencing solutions introduces additional business and security risks. For example, laws in other countries may change without notice and foreign-owned service providers that operate in Australia may still be subject to the laws of a foreign country,” ASD said.
“In addition, service providers who are located offshore may be subject to lawful and covert data collection requests and access an organisation’s data without their knowledge.”
The head of the ACSC, Abigail Bradshaw, said it was “critical that organisations correctly configure their selected service to maximise the security of conversations and data.”
“In deciding on a platform for teleconferencing, close attention should be paid to whether a service provider claims ownership of any recorded conversations and content, metadata, or files that are created or shared when using their web conferencing solution,” Bradshaw said.
That, says the ACSC, comes down to reading the fine print in the often epic-length terms and conditions contained in licensing agreements.
There’s also a warning on conference call squatting, where unknown users might join early or not hang up after prior calls, a routine collision point in what used to be shared work space meeting rooms.
Many conference call users often seek to bypass congested fixed line services by using only the audio portion of video conferencing apps. The ACSC reckons that’s an accident waiting to happen, too.
“Consider locking the meeting so no one else can join. However, in some cases, it may not be possible to identify individual participants, such as when they join via a telephone call,” the warning says.
“In such cases, take note of sounds or visual notifications indicating that participants are joining the meeting, and ask any unknown participants to identify themselves.
“If unknown participants are unable to appropriately identify themselves, they should be disconnected by the meeting host.”
But let’s face it. With people couped up and living on-top of each other some Chinese walls – a poor expression if ever there was one – are going to be difficult to maintain.
The working from home challenges are many.
At what stage does one tell the kids to bugger-off during a meeting? Is it now appropriate to take early or late conference calls from bed?
And how do you remove adhesive tape residue from a webcam so you don’t get unintentional Vaseline lens?
Perhaps the best advice iTnews heard on that front was from a former cyber intelligence warrior who spoke at the once mighty Security in Government conferences organised by the late Mike Rothery.
Operatives had complained that it was unpleasant to watch targets slurping down noodle soup wearing a singlet.
At a second track meeting on the sidelines of a conference, an officer noted to another nation’s officer that dress standards seemed to be slipping and perhaps collared shirts were more preferable attire.
The collared shirts appeared. Matter of professional courtesy were taken seriously by the other side, the audience was told.

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Telstra says COVID-19 leads customers to cancel technician visits – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Telstra has revealed current and prospective NBN customers are cancelling technician appointments or blocking site entry over COVID-19 concerns.
The telco provided more detail of changes to its field work practices and the impact of COVID-19 on disconnections of legacy ADSL services in a regulatory filing on Wednesday.
Telstra publicly advised on March 21 that it had “decided to temporarily pause the mandatory disconnections of customers from fixed networks under the NBN rollout” to reduce the potential for service disruption during the pandemic crisis.
Such freezes have regulatory repercussions, and those have now been laid out. 
In particular, Telstra is uncertain when it might be able to resume disconnections, and has indicated it may be some time before “the scale and timeframes affected” are clear.
In the interim, Telstra’s filing does provide an indication of how it – and other retail service providers – are altering business-as-usual processes because of the pandemic.
“Telstra has implemented precautionary practices that will prevent our field staff from entering premises in the event an end-user is ‘self-isolating’ due to COVID-19,” the telco advised. 
“Further, we are receiving advice that end-users themselves are cancelling appointments or preventing field staff from entering their premises, due to their own understandable concerns for COVID-19.
“We have also received feedback from RSPs (including Telstra Retail) advising the COVID-19 situation is having significant effects upon the way their labour force needs to be managed, including working from home arrangements and travel restrictions that have impacts both domestically and internationally (e.g. customer contact centres in the Philippines and India).
“In these circumstances, RSPs have advised they would prefer to be able divert their resources toward supporting their customers on existing services (either on the NBN or legacy network) rather than also have to manage the impacts associated with managed disconnections.”
NBN Co’s own FAQs on COVID-19 suggest it has a similar arrangement to Telstra with regards to its own field staff.
NBN Co said it had “introduced an additional control whereby technicians are now required to implement a new ‘Call on approach’ procedure, verifying whether there is any reason to suspect risk of exposure to COVID-19 at the premises”, and to reschedule if the residents are  “in isolation”.
The network builder said technicians had also been told to “minimise close contact when on premises and exercise additional wipe downs of all equipment and touch points”, and that they had been supplied with “additional hygiene products, including alcohol based hand rub or hand soap, alcohol based wipes and making face masks and disposable gloves.”
COVID-19 related disconnection delays affect “all premises with remaining active legacy services at a national level where the rollout region has either recently passed its disconnection date (and disconnection has not yet occurred) or the disconnection date is approaching in the near future.”
Telstra already had some existing delays on legacy copper disconnections in bushfire ravaged areas.
Disconnection of these areas had been pushed out to July this year, however with COVID-19 they are now further delayed.

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Canberra’s secure fibre network services panel grows – Strategy – Networking – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Department of Finance has established a new whole-of-government panel of suppliers to support the federal government’s Intra-Government Communications Network until 2025.
The department went looking for panelists last September to maintain, service and expand the point-to-point dark fibre network that spans 840 km across Canberra from April.
ICON links more than 500 sites across the capital, including agencies and data centres, and is used to carry information classified up to the protected level without encryption.
The department on Tuesday revealed the ten suppliers that would make up the new ICON fibre-optic infrastructure works and services panel.
While the majority of the panelists were present on the former panel, the new panel does include four new players: BKK Communications, Souther Infrastructure and Hire, Stowe and Utilstra.
The other panelists are Commerce Communications, Ecowise Services, George Ogilvie Fibre Works, Intravision, MRB Communications, P K Fibre and Communications
The refreshed panel comes five years after the government considered selling off the secure fibre network to a private sector third-party as part of its cost cutting drive.
Finance was directed to conduct a scoping study to assess whether a private sector operator could run the network for cheaper than the government.
But a year later, the department recommended against outsourcing ICON as the network provided “significant value to the government as a strategic asset”.
The study also found the network was “highly valued by government agencies for its low cost and high volume bandwidth”.
Dark fibre will also form a component of the new government-wide telco marketplace, which is expected to replace three existing government telco panels in the first half of 2020.

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Transit Systems taps MacTel to enable AI capability – Projects – Cloud – Networking – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Public transport operator Transit Systems has overhauled its cloud and telecommunications environment with Macquarie Telecom to build out an artificial intelligence capability powered by real-time data.
The largest operator of metropolitan public bus services in Australia, the company has a footprint in NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory while also running services in London and Singapore.
Each year it facilitates 334 million travellers’ journeys – even operating on-demand services like in Sydney’s inner west.
Transit Systems has deployed MacTel SIM cards for its entire Australian workforce to gather live telematics data including driver performance, acceleration, ticketing information, and engine diagnostics (among other data points).
It’s a big step up from how the operator had used its previous telecoms setup, group chief information officer Warren Read-Zorn said.
“Historically, a bus might have used one SIM to provide simple voice communication,” he said.
“The importance of that requirement has not diminished but now we need so much more.”
The need to deliver more for customers as more public transport services are privatised in terms of costs and the quality of service delivery using AI-backed analytics prompted Transit Systems to update its network and data environment.
“Our previous environment was incapable of powering the AI capabilities we needed to stay competitive, which inspired the Macquarie overhaul.
“This started with mobiles and then the consolidation of our two legacy data centres into one.”
The result is faster turnaround on analytics and a better understanding how drivers handle different routes thanks to data on breaking, acceleration, and corner-taking while also adding insight into traffic congestion and passenger loading to enable timetable optimisation and increase safety.
As part of the overhaul, Macquarie deployed its SD-WAN services to all 37 of Transit Systems’ depots to manage the speed, efficacy and uptime of each site’s network and ensure drivers and depots can communicate and share data.
The challenger telco is also managing Transit System’s nbn migration as each depot’s capacity requirements rise with the intent of bringing public wi-fi to each fleet in due time.
“The nature of transport operations is changing and we’re building these capabilities further to meet the new demands of the industry,” Read-Zorn said.
“The ability to evolve these capabilities and add new digital services to meet consumer and tourist demand will be a major consideration for the future operation of transport routes.”

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Labor sees new data source emerge to identify children without connectivity – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

A long-term goal of federal Labor to ensure all Australian children have access to an internet connection at home could become more achievable as the coronavirus pandemic makes it simpler to identify disadvantaged families.
A joint statement by shadow education and training minister Tanya Plibersek and shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland on Wednesday said up to 55,600 family households “are potentially missing out on the benefits of connectivity.”
“Recent developments with COVID-19 are no doubt placing these children, their parents and their teachers under pressure,” Plibersek and Rowland said.
“At a time when broadband has become a critical link between students, parents and their teachers, action is needed to ensure no child is left behind.”
Labor took a digital inclusion drive into the last federal election though it did not spell out in much detail at the time what this might entail.
Part of this was that Labor wanted to be able to properly scope the problem.
In a speech last year, Rowland said that “to obtain a better understanding of the affordability and take-up challenges facing low income and digitally excluded households, a Labor Government would … facilitate enhanced collaboration between NBN Co and the Department of Social Services.”
It is understood that Labor planned to match DSS and NBN Co data to better understand affordability challenges facing low income segments, and then use these insights to design targeted subsidies.
This could have, for example, determined if certain low income cohorts were over-represented in certain NBN speed tiers, or perhaps under-represented overall when it came to even being connected to the NBN.
However, a new mechanism to scope the problem has emerged in the COVID-19 pandemic response; that is, as schools shift classes online for home-based consumption, they are quickly able to identify children that do not have adequate connectivity at home.
Labor is wanting to use such data aggregated at a state education level to properly scope a policy response.
“Eligible households would ideally be identified by schools, and local community and welfare organisations,” the party said.
However, it’s unlikely the response would be in place for children facing an immediate need for connectivity for their schooling.
Labor’s idea is “for a targeted initiative to support these families with free NBN broadband access for a period of at least 12 months.”
“One approach Labor considers has merit is the Commonwealth, with the agreement of industry, partnering with a single retail provider for the specific purpose of this initiative, with NBNCo providing a reverse wholesale rebate for 12-24 months to support a $0 retail price,” Plibersek and Rowland said.
“This model would help simplify delivery by providing eligible households with a single point of contact to get them connected more quickly.”
The model has some similarities to the provider of last resort (POLR) model used in NBN greenfields, where two operators – Telstra and NBN Co – are the default (or fallback) to  deliver infrastructure in new estates.
A POLR model for disadvantaged households could provide a single (retail) point of contact to connect families identified by education departments and others as in need, Labor argues.

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NBN Co and biggest carriers to jointly tackle telco congestion – Networking – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

NBN Co and its five biggest retail service providers may jointly implement “unusual traffic management and capacity optimisation techniques” to keep services performing for those who need them most during the coronavirus pandemic.
A working group comprising NBN Co, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, TPG and Vocus has been set up and given permission to collaborate and take extraordinary action.
That permission comes in the form of an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) interim authorisation, unveiled today.
However, measures decided by the group are “not compulsory” to implement, and the retail service providers (RSPs) can “opt out” if they so choose to.
The working group has two collaborative missions, which target the continued operation of internet services during the pandemic, as well as customer support in the form of hardship measures.
It’s the congestion management strategies that are likely to get the most attention, though much of the detail on this is either redacted or in non-public documentation.
“The [special working] group will share information, coordinate strategies to manage congestion and take other steps to address significant demand changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the large numbers of people now at home during the day,” the ACCC said in a statement.
“The ACCC will be an observer on the special working group.”
How the NBN – and other telecommunications networks – would cope with a sudden influx of people locked down in their homes and conducting work and study remotely is being put to the test right now.
NBN Co has already offered free bandwidth boosts to providers to stave off congestion on its network.
However, it appears that other traffic management strategies will also be needed on the RSP side, with some workloads prioritised over others.
“The capacity optimisation strategies may directly or indirectly temporarily prevent, restrict or limit the supply of certain telecommunications services by group members to end users in Australia,” according to NBN Co’s application. [pdf]
NBN Co notes the shift of internet and voice services from enterprise and business-grade connections to residential, as workers are required to log in from their home connections.
The company said a joint approach was needed to manage these “abnormal traffic patterns”, and that this would require the use of “unusual traffic management and capacity optimisation techniques”.
Working collaboratively with the five largest RSPs means that the techniques could be applied to over 90 percent of all end users’ services, for an initial six months.
NBN Co does not rule out asking smaller RSPs to similarly join the arrangement. 
Exactly what traffic prioritisation is planned is unclear, though NBN Co argues in its application that any short-term detriments on certain types of internet user “are significantly outweighed by the public benefits that arise”.
“The strategies implemented will only arise temporarily as a result of critical restriction or limitation of telecommunications services in some areas to ensure that critical demands can continue to be serviced during this period of national crisis,” NBN Co said.
In a statement of its own, NBN Co welcomed the interim authorisation.
“We are pleased that the ACCC has moved swiftly to grant the necessary permission that allows NBN Co to continue to lead and co-ordinate the whole-of-industry response within the telecommunications and communications sector, and we recognise and appreciate the resolve and commitment of our industry partners during this time,” a spokesperson said.

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Trump to hold call with US internet, mobile phone providers – Cloud – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

President Donald Trump is holding a call with seven of the biggest US internet and mobile phone providers on Tuesday to talk about how the networks are holding up as tens of millions of Americans work from home.
The Federal Communications Commission has said US networks are performing well and has granted temporary access to additional spectrum blocks to help providers manage traffic.
AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Charter Communications Inc, Comcast, Altice USA, T-Mobile and Sprint Corp are expected to take part in the call.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said last week “the data show that the recent surges in Internet traffic are well within the capacity of US networks.”
Major firms, including all those Trump is speaking to, agreed earlier this month not to terminate service for subscribers for 60 days if they are unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
They also agreed to waive any late fees residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic and to open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them.

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Huawei warns China will strike back against new US restrictions – Finance – Security – Telco/ISP- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Huawei warned on Tuesday that 2020 would be its most difficult year yet due to American trade restrictions which dealt a blow to its overseas sales in 2019, and predicted the Chinese government would retaliate against the United States.
The world’s largest maker of telecoms equipment issued the warning as it reported its weakest annual profit growth in three years. It said Beijing could hit back against US measures to restrict chip sales to Huawei, by restricting sales of American products in China and by shifting to alternative suppliers in China and South Korea.
“The Chinese government will not just stand by and watch Huawei be slaughtered on the chopping board,” Chairman Eric Xu told reporters at the launch of Huawei’s annual report.
“Why wouldn’t the Chinese government ban the use of 5G chips or 5G chip-powered base stations, smartphones and other smart devices provided by American companies, for cybersecurity reasons?”
The United States alleges the Chinese government could use Huawei’s equipment to spy, an accusation rejected by the company.
Washington placed Huawei on a blacklist in May last year, citing national security concerns, restricting sales of US-made goods to the company. US President Donald Trump’s administration is also preparing further measures that will seek to restrict the supply of chips to the company, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters this month.
One of the sources said the rule-change is aimed at curbing sales of chips to Huawei by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chip maker and a major producer of chips for Huawei’s HiSilicon division.
“Even if this situation you mentioned happened, Huawei and also other Chinese companies can choose to buy chipsets from Samsung from Korea, MTK from Taiwan, and [Unisoc] in China, and use those companies to develop chips,” Huawei’s Xu said.
Xu, however, predicted 2020 would be the most difficult year yet for the company because of the US measures and warned that further export restrictions could destroy global tech supply chains.
Smartphones strong
Huawei Technologies said net profit for 2019 came in at 62.7 billion yuan (US$8.9 billion), up 5.6 percent – its weakest growth in three years, and down from 25 percent jump a year earlier.
Its carrier business, which includes 5G mobile network equipment, saw sales rise just 3.8 percent.
Liang Hua, chairman of the board, said the company would have to adapt to the US restrictions as well as the coronavirus pandemic.
Overall revenue rose 19 percent to 858.8 billion yuan, helped by a 34 percent jump in sales for its consumer business unit, which includes smartphones.
That was mainly driven by China, where sales surged 36.2 percent to 506.7 billion yuan. In contrast, revenue from the Asia-Pacific region excluding China fell 13.9 percent, while in Europe and the Middle East sales grew just 0.7 percent.
Huawei dominated smartphone sales in China, taking a 38.5 percent share of the market in 2019 compared with 27 percent a year earlier, according to research firm Canalys. This was in part due to a boost in nationalist sentiment after the company came under increasing pressure from the United States.
It spent 15.3 percent of its revenue, or 131.7 billion yuan, in research and development last year. Cash flow from operating activities jumped by more than one fifth to 91.4 billion yuan, thanks to a strong performance in its home market.
(US$1 = 7.0874 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by David Kirton; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Edwina Gibbs and Pravin Char)

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