The Internet Society continues to deepen its engagement with the Middle East by participating in the e-AGE 2017 Conference. This was held on 2-4 December 2017 at the Arab League in Cairo, Egypt, and was organised by the Arab States Research and Education Network (ASREN) and co-sponsored by the Internet Society and ICANN.
ASREN is a non-profit association of National Research and Education Networks in the Middle East that aims to connect institutes to enable access to services, applications and computing resources within the region and around the world, and to boost scientific research and cooperation amongst its members. Its mandate covers 22 countries, and it has partnered with the major regional R&E networking initiatives elsewhere in the world, including GÉANT (Europe), Internet2 (United States), CANARIE (Canada), WACREN (West Africa) and RedCLARA (Latin America). International connectivity is supported by the EU-funded EUMEDConnect3 and EUMEDGrid projects.
There were two main themes to the conference – that NRENs were access pathways to global knowledge, and that NRENs needed to distinguish themselves by doing things that were not or could not be provided by commercial ISPs. Michael Foley (World Bank) highlighted how the NRENs had played a key role in the evolution of the Internet and had greatly broadened access to scientific knowledge, but were equally facing challenges in a world of BYOD, cloud-based services, and blended learning. They need to be offering unique services in order to remain relevant, such as the sharing of telescopes, sensor networks, accelerators and supercomputers, but at a more basic level providing access to digital libraries, journals and resources, learning management systems, and AAIs such as eduroam and eduGAIN.
Improving routing security was therefore very much on message when Kevin Meynell from the Internet Society’s Middle East Bureau presented MANRS. There are many threats to the Internet that must be mitigated, but improving the routing system requires a collaborative approach between independent and sometimes competing parties, and finding ways to incentivise this is core to the solution.
The MANRS initiative encourages network operators to collaborate in improving the security of the routing system by subscribing to four actions including filtering, anti-spoofing, coordination and address prefix validation. This increases the transparency of a network operator’s security posture and its commitment to a more secure and resilient Internet, signalling this to potential customers and thus differentiating them from their competitors – a key challenge for NRENs today.
As we’ve previously highlighted, resources have been developed to help implement the MANRS actions, including the MANRS Best Current Operational Practice which is a technical document providing step-by-step instructions. Research and education networks are well placed to implement these actions, and by demonstrating compliance, showing leadership in building a community of security-minded operators.
The Internet Society is pleased to be able to support this important networking initiative in the Middle East, and looks forward to further collaboration in future. All the presentations and videos of each session are available online.