This week, hackers attacked cash machines in 14 countries around the world; International Telecommunications Union and Open Signal released 2016 reports featuring post-Soviet countries; internet users and businesses in Kyrgyzstan complain about state registrar’s monopoly.

1. Russian cybersecurity firm Group IB reported that hackers remotely targeted ATMs in 14 countries across the world including Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Russia. The malicious software forced cash machines to spit out cash.

Dmitry Volkov, head of threat intelligence with Group IB, told Reuters that he expects more heists on ATMs. Hackers have moved from stealing payment card numbers and online banking credentials to more lucrative hacks on bank networks, giving them access not only to ATM machines, but also to electronic payment networks.

DR comments: “A large international hacking group has turned its attention to our region since here we have systemic issues in cybersecurity, which result into such incidents. This wasn’t an attack on the consumers, but rather on financial institutions,” said Anton Kirsanov, expert at the Center for information security in Kyrgyzstan.

2. International Telecommunications Union released its 2016 Global Information Society report that covered 175 economies worldwide including 13 former Soviet countries. Overall, as a result of strong growth in mobile-broadband uptake globally, the use of ICT has improved significantly. This has allowed more people, especially from developing countries, join the information society and benefit from many services and application provided via internet.

Despite the progress throughout the globe, the digital divide between former Soviet countries is quite impressive with Estonia ranking 18 and Uzbekistan – 113. The Baltics, Belarus (31), and Russia (43) are among the most developed in terms of ICT, while the Caucasus countries, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine are in top 100 too. Central Asian countries remain behind due to infrastructure deployment, high prices, and other barriers that prevent further advancement of ICT.

3. Another recent report from OpenSignal examined the development of LTE networks in the world and featured six former Soviet countries – Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. According to the data, the fastest 4G internet among the six is in Lithuania with an average speed 28.73 Mbps, and the slowest is in Russia with an average speed 17.56 Mbps.

4. High cost of .KG domains in Kyrgyzstan has caused a stir among internet users and local businesses for years. As a result, many website developers and businesses prefer to purchase more affordable domains.

The country’s domain market has been monopolized by the only registrar AsiaInfo that sets the prices on .KG domains 10 times higher than the average in the world. For example, second-level domain in Kyrgyzstan costs $33, while in Russia – only $3.

While all countries move towards lowering prices on domains because it benefits an overall development of ICT market, Kyrgyzstan has been suffering from the lack of willingness from AsiaInfo and antimonopoly agency to reduce prices.

DR comments: “AsiaInfo can remain liable for the technical maintenance of domain registry, but the policy should be considered by a civil council that would include internet users and ICT market players, government officials, and experts. Resolution of this problem requires decisive actions from all stakeholders. So far everyone has been resentful, but nobody takes constructive steps. The public needs to engage ICANN and antimonopoly agency regarding the pricing policy of AsiaInfo,” said Tattu Mambetalieva, head of the Kyrgyz Civil Initiative for Internet Policy, to DR Analytica.