The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) reminds us, with a very interesting new report and press release that the United Nations General Assembly has designated October 20, 2010 as World Statistics Day—which, “acknowledges the importance of national and international statistics and aims to strengthen the awareness and trust of the public in official statistics.”

As part of that celebration of all things officially statistical, the ITU issued a new report called The World in 2010: ICT Facts and Figures, which reveals that the number of Internet users worldwide has doubled in the past 5 years and will surpass 2 billion by the end of 2010.

According to the ITU, 1.2 billion of those users will be in developing countries. The report points out the continuing “broadband divide” between the developed and developing world, pointing out particularly that Africa lags other regions in access to broadband technology.

Anyone interested in statistics about Internet use and mobile phone adoption will find this short, easy-to-read report useful, so I wanted to point it out here.

Of course, there’s also a security dimension here as the increase in connected users worldwide means more opportunities for broadband connected machines to be compromised by malware and recruited into the botnets that power most of today’s cyberthreats including spam, phishing, malware distribution and other forms of cybercrime.

This is especially problematic in the developing world for two reasons. First, developing countries with “thin pipe connectivity” (lower bandwidth) to the Internet backbone are disproportionately impacted by spam (see the ITU’s page on Countering Spam and Related Threats). Secondly, the use of pirated, counterfeit or compromised software is higher in the developing world, potentially making systems there more susceptible to attack and infection.

As a reminder, wherever you are in the world, whenever you setup a new net-connected computer, “make security your first stop.” Always ensure that your machines are protected by a good desktop anti-virus/Internet security solution and keep your subscription up-to-date. While I often recommend F-Secure, McAfee and Symantec as reputable anti-virus vendors, there are also reputable free solutions such as Avast, so a lack of resources doesn’t mean you have to go without security.