Byron Holland is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). View bio
Today is International Girls in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Day, a day set aside to encourage girls and women to consider careers in ‘tech’. It’s no surprise that women are under-represented in the ICT sector. Many theories have been put forward as to why.
In Canada, about 25 per cent of the ICT workforce are women. This number hasn’t changed much in the past decade, which means we have a lot of work to do.
In terms of overall numbers, CIRA appears to be doing well with regard to employing women. Currently, 40 per cent of our staff is female. However, that number declines to 28 per cent when we just count our Development and Operations Teams.
Personally, I’d like to see that number much higher.
To learn more about what it’s like working in ICT for women, I spoke with a couple of CIRA’s female employees. Below is what they told me, in their own words. Please share these stories with young women that you think can benefit from reading them.
Anne-Marie Walton, Application Developer
Why did you choose a career in technology?
I never thought I would have a career in IT. I wasn’t exposed to computers very much when I was young so I was scared of using computers.
I first discovered IT in university. I wasn’t happy with my major, which was geology, and a friend suggested I try a few courses in computer science. I tried a few courses and loved them so much that I decided to switch my major to computer science. I’m so happy I did!
What is it like working in a male dominated field?
Sometimes it’s challenging. Some people are not very accepting of women in this field. On the other hand, there are some people who are fantastically happy to see women represented in the field. You just learn to be tolerant of people who haven’t entered the current century and try not to take anything too personally.
Any advice for young women who might be considering a career in technology?
If you love working in the IT environment, don’t let the fact that it is a male dominated field stop you from pursuing it.
Why do you love working in IT?
I love the fact that it’s constantly changing. There are always new problems to solve. It’s challenging and interesting.
Irena Zamboni, Quality Assurance Specialist
Why did you choose a career in technology?
I did a survey in high school about what areas you are good at. It came back as math, science and business.
Engineering was one of those fields that I knew would open doors. It never dawned on me that software was a career.
I did an undergrad in electrical engineering and a Masters in biomedical engineering. During this time, I had a job doing software testing. I really enjoyed troubleshooting software.
You use a lot of critical thinking. No one day of the job is the same. I’m pretty social, and being that it’s a job that works with a lot of other departments in an organization, I really enjoyed that.
Did you have any role models that inspired you to enter the field?
My dad is a mechanical engineer and my mom is a teacher. I was big into Legos, so I think my parents noticed that side of me and encouraged it. I was also inquisitive and I like to use my hands.
In high school, I took a tech class and killed it. I was the only girl in the class and I got the highest mark. The guys were upset.
I didn’t know if I wanted to go into IT at the time, but I took that class to see what the field was about and what the options were.
What is it like working in a male dominated field?
I personally love it. I find guys easy to get along with.
I’m a bit of a tomboy. It never felt odd to be surrounded by more men than women.
I think the biggest thing is to see yourself outside of your gender. My parents never talked about engineering as male dominated, or nursing as female dominated. I just saw (myself in field) as part of the norm.
Any advice for young women who might be considering a career in technology?
Take everything that is available to you and at least try it. Don’t make up your mind about something without trying it. Don’t be afraid of making a change. Don’t do something that makes others happy. Do something that makes you happy.
Jacques Latour, CIRA’s Director, Information Technology, updates CIRA’s progress on DNSSEC in this post.
This week, we reached a major milestone in implementing DNSSEC in .CA. On January 21, CIRA published a signed .CA zone file. We have also submitted the .CA DS record to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA).
DNSSEC is an important set of extensions that provide an extra layer of security to the domain name system (DNS). It’s implementation is critical to ensure the continued safety and security of .CA.
We wanted to create a comprehensive DNSSEC validation process, so we took a different approach to sign .CA that takes into account several known DNSSEC-related issues that affect its operation. Our approach addresses these issues, and we believe we have developed a resilient solution that will result in high availability/no outages.
We created dual independent signing engines using Bind and OpenDNSSEC. There were a few challenges along the way. For example, Bind and OpenDNSSEC produce different, although valid signed zone files and both handle signing differently. These challenges, though, were worth overcoming. The end product will not only be an improved system for .CA, but we’re blazing a new trail here – the global Internet community will benefit from this work.
This milestone is the result of almost a year’s work, starting with the release of our DNSSEC Practice Statement for comment in February 2012. This document provides an operational outline of how we plan to develop, maintain and manage DNSSEC deployment for .CA. In September 2012, we held a key signing ceremony at our Ottawa office. At this ceremony, the cryptographic digital key that is used to secure the .CA zone was generated.
These steps provided the foundation for the next phase of our work, the publishing of the .CA zone file, which was completed this week. The next phase of CIRA’s work in implementing DNSSEC is to make the necessary upgrades to ready the registry system for transacting DNSSEC-enabled .CA domain names. We expect this work to be complete in 2014. Once complete, CIRA will be able to register DNSSEC-enabled .CA domain names. Our next steps also include working with the Canadian Internet community to get them onside to implement DNSSEC in their systems.
Once we have fully implemented DNSSEC, we will have reached a major milestone in ensuring .CA is among the safest top-level domains in the world.
Should you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact email@example.com.
The World Conference on Information Technology (WCIT-12) has ended and I’ve had a few days to mentally digest what I witnessed as a member of the Canadian delegation.
WCIT-12 was a meeting of member nations of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to discuss the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs), the agreements that regulate global telecommunications traffic. A number of proposals were put forward at WCIT-12 that would extend the reach of the ITRs over the Internet.
As you are likely aware, there was much disagreement over these proposals, with the pro- and anti-ITU sides so polarized it resembled an online Cold War.
By the end of the negotiations, a draft treaty was put to a vote and passed with two-thirds support. The final agreement includes a number of provisions that left many nations unable to sign it, including provisions related to spam (‘unsolicited bulk electronic communications’ in bureaucratic speak) and a definition of ‘operating agency’, i.e. the organizations covered by the treaty, that may be interpreted as including Internet service providers and content producers.
What does this mean?
In the end, consensus wasn’t reached, but there was agreement among a group of countries – 89 countries signed the updated ITRs. Once you dig a little deeper, an interesting story starts to emerge.
I compared the list of countries who signed the ITRs with the Democracy Index, a ranking of nations based on a number of categories to measure their democratic state.
There is a clear correlation between a country’s ranking on the democratic index and the likelihood they supported the revised ITRs:
Ninety-one per cent of countries that are identified as ‘full democracy’ and voted at WCIT-12 did NOT support the ITRs. This number steadily declines as a country’s democratic ranking declines, to the point where only 8.6 per cent of ‘authoritarian regimes’ did not support them. The flip side of this story is worth stating: the more democratic a nation is, the least likely it is to support the ITU extending its reach over the Internet.
What does this mean for the Internet?
What we are potentially looking at now, in my opinion, may be the development of a two-tiered Internet. Those countries that supported the new ITRs and that go on to ratify the agreement will have, at least in their opinion, the support of an international treaty to limit and monitor, if not censor, Internet traffic transiting across its borders.
Part of the world’s population, primarily those that live in the First World, will continue to have access to the free and open Internet and all of its benefits. The rest of the world, primarily those that live in the developing world, will have access to some lesser version of the Internet.
You can bet that some of the larger content producers are simply just not going to bother offering content or services to much of the world. This could very well mean that a content producer in Canada will be subject to the ITRs if it is available in those countries. And, as I explained in my last post, Internet traffic doesn’t travel point-to-point. It is broken into many different packets of information which individually take the most efficient route possible. What if that route transits through a country that has signed on to the new ITRs?
Think about that against the backdrop of the above info-graphic. It is primarily countries in the developing world that supported the new ITRs. This means that it will be the developing world that will not have access to the same information free and open democracies, like Canada, do.
In Dubai, we may have witnessed history, but not of the good kind. I believe it is one where the free and open Internet – the Internet that has allowed free speech, democracy and economic development to flourish – will only be available to the citizens of the developed world. The citizens of the developing world – the people who could most benefit from the free and open Internet, from the free flow of information, and from access to global markets for their products and services – will be deprived of these benefits.
Leading up to the conference, there was much hyperbole (the Internet control doomsayers) and placating (i.e. “the ITU isn’t interested in the Internet”). Unfortunately, the possible creation of a two-tier Internet means that WCIT-12 lived up to the hyperbole more than it allayed the fears of many of the delegates.
In the end, however, only time will tell.
In this post, Paul Andersen, Chair of the CIRA Board of Directors, discusses the findings of the recent outreach on changes to CIRA’s governance structure and processes.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog or you follow CIRA’s activities, you’ll know that we recently held an outreach with our .CA Members regarding proposed changes to our governance. The organization has been looking on and off at a major overhaul to our governance structure over the past few years. After all, the last time significant changes were made to CIRA’s bylaws was in 2006. Recently, changes to the legislation that governs not-for-profits like CIRA require CIRA to make changes to its bylaws. This resulted in us revisiting this topic.
Since there are a number of changes to the by-laws that are a result of the new legislation, as the Board we decided that it was time to review the organization’s governance processes and structures as a whole. We set out to fix what we saw as a heavily burdensome election process and improve efficiencies at the Board level. CIRA spends a disproportionate amount of time running an annual election process. In fact, the current process consumes the better part of a year. There are other issues with the current Board and elections process:
- The current size of the Board was established over a decade ago when there was little by way of staff and resources. As I stated in my last guest post on this blog, CIRA has evolved, and in response the Board’s role has changed from a heavily operational role to a much more strategic one. A smaller, leaner board would be more efficient.
- There have been no term limits for Directors. To ensure a diversity of voices on the Board, we had proposed term limits.
- The current election process has a complicated split ballot system. The Board and the organization agree that this system has created a large number of issues. A number of concerned Members have spoken to me about how complicated – and therefore unappealing – the current election process is. First, there appears to be a misunderstanding among .CA Members that since there are two classes of directors – one elected through the Member slate and one through the nomination committee slate that a director elected through the Member slate should somehow represent the community that elected them. (Fact is, all directors, regardless of how they are elected, must always act in the best interest of the organization, not any particular stakeholder group.
These issues have resulted in several – I’ll call them unorthrodox – processes, such as the show of support stage and two nomination stages. These processes serve to lengthen and complicate the election, confusing many trying to run. The majority of our current Board agree that more of the resources spent on the election should be put toward running .CA, and that the process should be one that attracts the best candidates to fill any gaps on the Board.
From April 2 to May 2 this year, we engaged .CA Members in a dialogue about the proposed changes. From the beginning, we wanted this to be an open and transparent process. .CA Members are one of CIRA’s key stakeholders, and we wanted to hear from them on the proposed changes to our governance processes and structures.
On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank the .CA Members who participated in the outreach for sharing their views – hearing from Members on such matters is important. We take this feedback very seriously, and the fact is, we didn’t set out on this process to confirm our proposal. Rather, we consulted with Canadians to ensure that the changes that we move ahead with are right for CIRA and the Canadian Internet community.
The Board believes the proposed changes are in the best interest of .CA. If we didn’t we would not have proposed them. So as a Board, we now find ourselves in a bit of a conundrum.
Based on the amount of feedback received and after reviewing as a group the proposal, the Board is not comfortable moving ahead with the proposed changes that were not necessary to transition to the new legislation. While we did our best to promote the feedback process through emails to .CA Members, social media and other means, we only received 28 responses. We currently have more than 15,000 .CA Members. Are the 28 submissions representative of the entire .CA Membership? We don’t know, and for that reason, it is very difficult for us to move forward either way. Fact is, CIRA has never had attendance at an Annual General Meeting of less than 100. In fact, at the February 2006 Special Members Meeting (the last time by-law changes were discussed), there were more than 500 people involved in the discussion.
What went wrong here? I am first to admit we have, over the past decade, struggled with Membership engagement. For that reason, the organization has invested countless resources over the past four years, including hiring a Communications Manager responsible for Membership engagement and developing new tools for reaching out to Members. While we have seen a significant increase in Membership engagement, our community engagement (for example, the Canadian Internet Forum and the.CA Impact Awards) has met with enthusiastic response. Is the fact that we received minimal response for an issue as important as changes to our governance structure and process is an indication that we have much work to do? Is it a matter that while governance is important to us, it might not be for our membership? Or should we understand the silence on behalf of .CA Members as consent? These are the questions we are grappling with.
The working group within the Board tasked with governance changes – and ultimately the entire Board of Directors – spent countless hours struggling with the feedback. It is not a large enough sample for us to understand how representative it is of the Canadian Internet community. Nevertheless we received it and we take it very seriously.
The majority of responses received was in opposition of the removal of the Members’ slate of candidates or expressed a level of distrust of the Nomination Committee. There was also some concern expressed about the proposed reduction in the size of the Board of Directors.
I’d like to take this opportunity to discuss the feedback.
We proposed a single slate of candidates for the Board election through a nomination committee. Why? Because the split ballot process (Member and Nomination Committee slates) is both confusing and time consuming. Anecdotal feedback indicated that we were potentially turning people away who didn’t want to participate in such a confusing process. While CIRA has had a nominating committee for many years, it had been criticized for not being transparent enough. The Board has recognized some of the concerns for some time now. While we are deeply proud of the output of this group, we understand it can look a little bit like electing the pope (everyone goes in, puff of smoke, output).
Not the best process when you are trying to convey a commitment to transparency.
The feedback we received indicated a high level of concern – I would go so far as to say distrust – greatly expressed over the Nomination Committee as an “insiders club” and a tool for Board “self-perpetuation.” Fact is, this has never been a reality under current mechanism. We now clearly understand that any future review needs to better address how the Nomination Committee is selected.
We proposed a variety of mechanisms that would improve transparency and accountability to the stakeholders of CIRA, and truly believed that they would add value to the current system. You can view the proposal here.
A nomination committee is not only common practice, but is considered by many to be a best practice in the realm of corporate governance. CIRA has gone through efforts to ensure that there is a great deal of independence in how the Nomination Committee operates, and the reality is that the Board needs a diversity of various skills and stakeholders to be effective. The beauty of the Internet, and of global Internet governance, is that ALL stakeholders have an equal voice. It is the diversity of voices making decisions about the development of the Internet that have enabled it to become the incredible success it is. As a Professional Engineer, I feel free to say that CIRA’s Board needs a balance of voices, and not an abundance of engineers. These voices could include policy, marketing, engineering, finance, and end user voices, among others. And while no governance system is perfect, it is the nomination committee process that attempts to ensure this delicate balance.
That said, here’s what we are doing.
Given the feedback received and the continued Membership engagement, the Board has decided to move ahead with only the changes the changes we believe are essential to transition to the new legislation governing not-for-profits. Accordingly, at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) this fall we will only be asking .CA Members to approve those changes required to our bylaws so that we can transition to the new Act – the changes can be viewed here. Given the importance of governance to an organization, and the short time frames before our AGM this fall, we felt it important not to proceed at this time with major governance changes without further review and outreach.
The domain industry is changing and CIRA needs to ensure .CA is well positioned to succeed in the new competitive landscape. While I believe an improved governance structure is important, I think the CIRA Board needs to take some time to learn from this experience, and to possibly look at alternate ways to engage with .CA Members. The Board will also need to engage in a broad discussion of what membership means. We cannot continue to seek feedback in which we only hear from 0.1 per cent of our Members.
I look forward to working with CIRA’s membership to implement these legislated changes.
Thanks to those who provided feedback, and thanks to all .CA Members for your interest in building a stronger Internet.
Paul Andersen, P.Eng.
Chairperson, Board of Directors
Last year, we released an info-graphic about Canada’s ranking in 2010 with regard to broadband speed and cost. The graphic was based on OECD data, and we were surprised at how popular it turned out to be. The OECD recently released data on broadband speed and cost for 2011, and we’ve created another info-graphic based on this new information.
How did Canada fair in 2011? Breaking the top 20, Canada moved up four places from 23rd to 19th. In actual numbers, the story is even more promising. Average advertised price per megabyte per second (mbps) actually decreased 20 per cent to $3.29. Even more interesting, average advertised speed more than doubled from 21 mbps to 45 mbps.
It would appear Canada is making progress on the broadband front. That is, unless you take a deeper look at the numbers.
Fact is, Canada made an 11 per cent gain in ranking based on a 20 per cent decrease in price and more than 100 per cent increase in speed. So while we made gains in true numbers, those gains are barely keeping pace with the other 33 countries that are a part of the study.
You can see this year’s info-graphic here.
Why do I think broadband speed and price are so important? Because broadband speed and price are a nation’s digital currency. If we want Canada to be a digital leader, we need to make our currency attractive to businesses. As I stated in my last post, over the past decade Canada has lost its leadership position in the global digital economy. We can’t afford to settle for the status quo.
It’s time for us to retake our position as a global digital leader. Please get informed and make your voice heard. Together, we can build a stronger Canadian Internet.
In this post John Demco, a CIRA Board of Directors member and known to many as Canada’s ‘godfather’ of the Internet, discusses the first 25 years of .CA.
It has been 25 years since Jon Postel, operator of Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), delegated the .CA domain extension to my responsibility. At the time, I was working for the University of British Columbia, and ran the .CA registry with a small group of volunteers. Though it’s an enjoyable experience for me to look back on those times, I’d also like to take this opportunity to discuss just how far .CA has come over the past quarter century.
When I think about it, the world of technology has changed dramatically since 1987. There have been remarkable changes in CPU size and speed, memory, disk storage, network bandwidth, and so on. If we assume Moore’s Law to be correct, computer technology has come a very long way in the past 25 years (in fact, it would have grown by a multiple of more than 5,000). And while Internet access in Canada in 1987 was virtually unknown, the Internet is now accessible in eight out of 10 Canadian households. It has also become very much a global entity, playing a significant role in enhancing the economies of many nations, and in the spread of democracy.
With all of the good, we’ve seen some less than good things come as a result of the tremendous growth of the Internet. For example, the proliferation of cyber-crime, evidenced recently by the high-profile DNS Changer virus, and the emergence of Internet technologies as tools for war and terrorism. And, we are having to rethink how we view privacy with the emergence of social media.
To say that the Internet touches the lives of every Canadian in one way or another is not exaggeration, and that’s one of the reasons I feel fortunate to have spent the last 25 years working with .CA.
I believe .CA is in a better position than at any other time in its history. We’re about to reach two million .CA domains registered, a major milestone. CIRA is the 14th largest country-code registry in the world, and .CA is the fourth fastest growing top-level domain. With CIRA, we have a world-class organization with excellent staff, management and Board of Directors. CIRA is recognized by its global counterparts as being one of the most respected registries, with top notch technical infrastructure and operations and a commitment to working with its stakeholders. The Canadian Internet Forum (CIF) is a shining example of how CIRA is trying to bring the discussion about the development of the Internet to all Canadians.
We’ve managed to keep CIRA at the cutting edge of Internet technologies. CIRA is currently working on implementing Internationalized Domain Names, an initiative that will see French language characters in .CA domain names. And, we’ll be enabling DNSSEC later this year, contributing to the safety and security of Canada’s Internet.
It has been a great pleasure and privilege to have been involved with .CA since its beginning. The one constant throughout has been the great people who have worked so hard for the best interest of Canada’s Internet community. .CA is more than a top-level domain. It really is Canada’s online identity.
It was tremendously exciting in 1987, and it’s just as exciting now. Fact is, it may be even more exciting in the future.
For many of you, I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but over the past decade Canada has lost its leadership position in the global digital economy.
In just about any indicator you care to pick, from the OECD to the Berkman Center, it is clear that Canada has slipped into the bottom quartile compared to its international counterparts. I’m not just talking about pipes and pricing, I’m talking about the entire Internet ecosystem, from innovation and venture capital to policy and infrastructure.
On the infrastructure side, this is particularly evident in Canada’s very low number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).
An IXP allows local network traffic to take shorter, faster paths between member networks, alleviating congestion on major Internet backbones and helping to reduce network costs. This results in a substantial improvement in local Internet performance and resiliency. The benefit is highly visible to end-users who would, as an example, experience less jitter when using Skype or watching video. With the current infrastructure, packets must travel much further than they would were there an IXP nearby, reducing latency and improving resiliency.
There are about 350 IXPs around the world and they have proven to be integral to the Internet infrastructure of many nations. The United States has about 85, thanks largely to the efforts of the private sector. In Canada we have only two, notably OTTIX in Ottawa and TORIX in Toronto.
Simply put, Canada is not keeping pace with other OECD countries.
There is nothing to be gained by dwelling in the past and pointing fingers of blame about why this was allowed to happen. What we must focus on today is where we need to go and what it will take to get there. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the .CA domain this year, it is more important than ever to take stock of how we can continue to improve the Internet in Canada and ensure that we have a strong digital economy for the next 25 years.
Last fall at the ISP Summit in Toronto, I asked Canada’s Internet business leaders to join me in working together to restore Canada’s position as a leading tech nation. Part of what I called on them to do is work with us to establish a robust community of IXPs across Canada. For the past seven months, CIRA has been talking to community-based stakeholders about IXPs, and we recently launched an IXP wiki for these stakeholders to share their activities with regard to establishing IXPs.
Based on independent expert research that identifies optimal IXP locations based on data flow, population and geography, CIRA has identified a number of locations across the country that would be ideally situated for IXPs. We’ve started a dialogue with a number of interested parties, such as Winnipeg’s MBIX, Montreal’s B2B2C, Colbanet, Oricom, Teksavvy, Telnet Communications, Electronic Box, and VIF Internet. We’ve also been speaking with members of the Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Halifax’s Internet communities. A meeting of the Montreal community members will be held shortly.
Creating more IXPs is about improving security, speed and network resilience, while maximizing the amount of traffic that stays within Canada for the benefit of all Canadians. While CIRA has no desire to operate IXPs, we are committed to bringing together the resources necessary to facilitate their development. We can’t do this alone; it will require investments, new servers and other hardware to achieve the vision. Today, we are once again calling on all stakeholders in Canada’s digital economy, including network operators, Internet service providers (ISPs) and others from the public and private sectors to work together and with CIRA to create more IXPs across the country.
It’s not like we have to clear new ground to create these IXPs. We can learn from the pioneers in the Canadian IXP space – TORIX and OTTIX. In fact, CIRA already has a relationship with these IXPs (we are a member both of these organizations), and we look forward to continuing these positive relationships and learning from the expertise that they bring to the table.
If we are to compete on the global marketplace, we as a nation must have the vision and commitment to build the modern infrastructure required. A robust Canadian Internet infrastructure, including a nation-wide fabric of IXPs, is the 21st century equivalent of the railway that connected our country in the 19th century. If we could achieve that, we can certainly achieve this.
Keeping more of our domestic traffic in Canada will improve security, speed of data and network resilience for the benefit of all Canadians. We have to do this, because no one else will do it for us and we can’t afford to settle for the status quo. As we prepare to celebrate all things Canadian on July 1, what better time to continue this discussion in earnest.
In this post CIRA’s Director, Marketing & Communications, David Fowler discusses the 2012 .CA Impact Awards and introduces us to the four winners:
The .CA Impact Awards recognizes youth, educators, not-for-profit and public organizations, small businesses and web developers and designers for their innovation and the impact of their .CA websites and applications. In short, the .CA Impact Awards celebrates Canadian organizations that use the Internet and .CA to achieve their goals.
The Impact Awards are a part of CIRA’s Community Investment Program. While our key function is to run the .CA registry and underlying DNS infrastructure, CIRA also supports the development of the Internet ecosystem both domestically and internationally. The Impact Awards help us to achieve this.
The four 2012 .CA Impact Awards winners represent the very pinnacle of Canadian ingenuity and creativity. This year, the winners include an initiative whose goal is to help Canadians experience the joys of eating together, an animation school, an innovative furniture seller that incorporated a charity into their daily work, and the developers of a mobile application that helps visually impaired people navigate their city.
Please, meet the four .CA Impact Award winners in the following videos:
Jeffrey Blum, In Situ Audio Services (ISAS). ISAS (isas.cim.mcgill.ca) was the winner of the 2012 .CA Impact Award for Applications. ISAS also won the mesh Peoples’ Choice Award.
Video available here: An interview with Jeffrey Blum from ISAS
Sydney Massey, Director of Nutrition Education at BC Dairy, from Better Together BC. Better Together BC (bettertogetherbc.ca) was the winner of the 2012 .CA Impact Award for Public Sector and Not-for-Profit.
Video available here: An interview with Sydney Massey from Better Together BC
Joanna Kakkavas, CEO and President, Condobox. Condobox (condobox.ca) was the winner of the 2012 .CA Impact Award for Small Business.
Video available here: An interview with Joanna Kakkavas from Condobox
Mario Pochat, Director, Vancouver Animation School. The Vancouver Animation School (vanas.ca) was the winner of the 2012 .CA Impact Award for eLearning.
Video available here: An interview with Mario Pochat from the Vancouver Animation School
Please, stay tuned. We’re going to be launching the 2013 .CA Impact Awards later this year. I hope you will enter your .CA website!
This week, CIRA released key highlights of how we plan to implement French language characters, or Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs), in .CA domain names. This plan comes as a result of seven months of outreach by CIRA. We’ve talked to subject matter experts, our CIRA Certified Registrars and conducted two public consultations to obtain feedback, and I believe CIRA’s IDN initiative is stronger for it. CIRA received a tremendous amount of feedback during the consultation which has directly shaped our approach to implementing IDNs.
Here are some of the highlights of our planned approach:
- French Characters: CIRA will allow the registration of the following characters: é, ë, ê, è, â, à, æ, ô, œ, ù, û, ü, ç, î, ï, and ÿ.
- Administrative Bundling: Character variants will be bundled together, meaning that the Registrant of a particular domain name will have the exclusive right to register all of the variants of that domain name (e.g., only the Registrant of preside.ca will be able to register préside.ca, prèsïdë.ca, prësîdê.ca, etc.).
- Single Registrar: Domain names in a bundle must all be held by the same Registrar under the same Registrant contact.
- Pricing: The wholesale pricing of IDNs, including French character variants of existing domain names, will not be higher than the pricing for any ASCII or English domain name. This will not apply, however to any price related promotions that CIRA may choose to offer, from time to time.
As stewards of the .CA domain space, we are committed to running a world-class domain name registry for the benefit of all Canadians, and that includes both English and French Canada. The implementation of French characters not only allows us to better serve Canadians in both official languages, it also creates a more accessible Internet experience for all.
The media has been on fire this week with the news of a ‘new’ and very serious piece of malware, the so-called Flame Virus. While there is a lot of information out there about this virus, I have noticed that much of it is not entirely accurate. Here’s what we know:
- The virus is complex. Very complex in fact, and that’s the reason it has piqued the attention of people like me. It is clear that as it exists today, it is not active to the full extent it is capable of. The Flame Virus is certainly one of the most sophisticated viruses we have ever seen.
- At this time, there is no anti-virus product that can identify and delete the virus from a computer. That said, there are many very smart people working on this right now, and I know that the ‘fix’ will be out soon.
- The Flame Virus is currently not spreading via the Internet. But because of its complexity, it most definitely has the capability to do so should the creators of the virus decide to make this tactical shift. Currently it is spreading via USB memory sticks and on local area networks, or LANs.
- Actual infection rate is very, very low – estimated to be at about 1,000 computers around the world. The virus is also incredibly targeted, targeting mostly computers in the Middle East (and in particular Iran). Canadians are currently at minimal risk for this virus.
For a good, thorough explanation of the virus, Kaspersky, a Russian Internet security firm, has released an information resource available here.
So while the vast majority of Canadians are currently at no risk for this virus, there are a few things we should all be doing to protect ourselves from malware generally:
- Make sure your operating system and anti-virus programs are up-to-date. This means updating your software when updates are available and restarting your computer regularly. Updates are the key to stopping viruses and keeping Canadians safe online.
- Check your anti-virus providers’ website regularly. While the fix for the Flame Virus will likely be available in the next few weeks, it may not be available as an update to your regular anti-virus program. It might be distributed be a separate tool, and you may have to access it independently of your regular anti-virus program. The solution may also vary from vendor to vendor, so it’s best to check their website for specific info on the virus.
- Avoid becoming a victim of ‘click-through syndrome’. Very often, new programs require elevated privileges on a computer, and a pop-up will ask you to grant these privileges. Many people have become accustomed to automatically clicking ‘okay’ when met with this request – thus becoming a victim of ‘click-through syndrome’. Many viruses require these elevated privileges to be fully operational, so before you click ‘okay’, make sure you know, and trust, the provider of the program.
- Only download antivirus products directly from the vendor’s website, and avoid third party distributors.
- One of the ways that the Flame Virus is spreading is via infected USB memory sticks. It is always good practice to only use USB memory sticks from a source that you trust.
We developed a great tip sheet to help Canadians stay safe online with Media Smarts (formerly the Media Awareness Network), available here (.PDF). The Canadian government’s site getcybersafe.ca site is also a great source of information.
We all have a responsibility to keeping the Internet a safe and secure place for all Canadians. Please do your part.