Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Changing IoT; Huawei/ZTE ban; Apple vehicles.


Internet of Things
Internet of Things vendors and providers of network services need to collaborate to fully realize the possibilities presented by the IoT, Chris Martin of PowWowNow writes. “The potential applications for IoT sensors and devices span a vast number of industries, with IoT technologies expediting the growth of smart cities, autonomous vehicles and connected industry technologies. However, in order to reach its full potential, the sector must first overcome two key challenges – connectivity and scalability,” he notes.

Peter Hoddie, principal of Moddable, advocates the use of local network services and creating “Apps for Things” as ways to put the user in control of the IoT. “As individual consumers, we can make choices in our product selection to encourage IoT products that respect our rights by putting the product owner in control. As technology creators, we can do more by using our time and skills to enable the future we want to see,” he writes in this essay.

IoT predictions are a dime a dozen, and that’s about how much they’re worth, according to Frank Landman. “In 2010, when IoT was just starting to captivate the attention of futurists, industry analysts were predicting that there would be more than 50 billion connected devices in play by 2020. Now that we’re a great deal closer to that date, we know this prediction has fallen far short—experts now suspect there will be something closer to 20 billion connected devices by that time. That’s only 40% of the original estimate,” he notes.

President Trump may issue an executive order in 2019 barring U.S. companies from employing telecommunications and networking equipment from Huawei Technologies and ZTE, Reuters reports, citing three sources familiar with the situation. The American government has long suspected that high-tech products made in China could be used for cyberespionage purposes. The proposed executive order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Hackers working on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security broke into corporate networks at Hewlett Packard Enterprise and IBM, using the breaches to access the computers of the companies’ clients, according to Reuters, which cites five sources familiar with the attacks. The coordinated campaign is part of a cyberattack initiative called Cloudhopper. IBM said there was no evidence that sensitive corporate data was compromised; HPE declined to comment on Cloudhopper-related activity. Meanwhile, the Department of Justice indicted two alleged Chinese hackers over their cyberespionage. One hacker nicknamed “Godkiller” has reportedly been active for a dozen years, according to U.S. prosecutors. Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom officially accused the Ministry of State Security and a hacking group known as APT10 of attacking government agencies and local companies in a variety of industries.

A cyberattack on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration may have compromised information about current and former NASA employees, including Social Security numbers, according to the agency. Bob Gibbs, NASA’s assistant administrator for the office of human capital management, wrote in a memo to NASA employees this month, “NASA and its Federal cybersecurity partners are continuing to examine the servers to determine the scope of the potential data exfiltration and identify potentially affected individuals.” He added, “The ongoing investigation is a top agency priority, with senior leadership actively involved.”

The FBI seized the domains of 15 “booter” and “stresser” websites, which were offering to conduct distributed-denial-of-service attacks on specific targets, for a price. Three men in California and Alaska were charged with operating the sites. The FBI was assisted by the National Crime Agency in the U.K. and the Dutch national police, while the Justice Department cited the help provided by Cloudflare, Flashpoint, Google and other companies in cracking the case.

Check Point Software Technologies was identified as a leader in the latest IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Mobile Threat Management Software 2018-2019 Vendor Assessment. A complimentary excerpt copy of the assessment is available here.

Microsoft pushed out an emergency patch for its Internet Explorer browser after a security vulnerability was discovered by researchers at Google and the Department of Homeland Security. Using a phishing email, attackers can lure IE users to an infected website, according to the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team.

Automotive Tech
Curious minds would like to know what Apple is doing with autonomous driving technology. The iPhone and Macintosh company doesn’t reveal its corporate plans, Bret Kenwell notes. Apple reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles in September that it had 70 autonomous vehicles using roads in the Golden State. There are more than 5,000 employees attached to the autonomous driving project, with nearly 2,700 considered “core employees” at mid-2018. The company has partnered with Lexus and Volkswagen for test vehicles used in the project, while BMW and Daimler didn’t want to work with Apple, Kenwell writes.

California’s Public Utilities Commission granted Zoox the first permit to ferry riders in autonomous vehicles under a pilot program. The startup in Foster City, Calif., is not allowed to charge fares for the rides and it must have a backup human driver in the vehicles.

Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motor, was arrested again last Friday on allegations that he shifted $16.6 million in personal investment losses a decade ago to the automotive manufacturer. The Tokyo court overseeing his case as a result extended his stay in jail by 10 more days, running through January 1, 2019. Meanwhile, Nissan executive Greg Kelly, an American who was arrested with Ghosn on November 19, was granted bail of $635,600 and released from Tokyo’s detention center on Christmas Day.

AEye of Pleasanton, Calif., brought out the AE110 device for the automotive mobility market. The device features software-definable, solid-state LiDAR technology, patented by the company. The AE110 is based on AEye’s iDAR technology, which essentially combines a high-definition camera and a LiDAR sensor in one device. AEye will be exhibiting and demonstrating the AE110 next month at CES 2019.

Accenture agreed to acquire Knowledgent Group, a data intelligence company, for expanding its data management capabilities; financial terms weren’t revealed. Knowledgent has more than 200 experts in the areas of data strategy and architecture, data engineering, and data management services. The company has offices in Boston, New York, Toronto, and Warren, N.J.

The AlphaZero machine-learning algorithm developed by DeepMind, the AI company owned by Alphabet, has moved beyond being a very capable chess player to a virtually unbeatable chess champion in the past year, this analysis notes. In 100 games against Stockfish, the reigning computer world champion of chess, AlphaZero recorded 28 victories and 72 draws. “Most unnerving was that AlphaZero seemed to express insight. It played like no computer ever has, intuitively and beautifully, with a romantic, attacking style,” writes Steven Strogatz, professor of mathematics at Cornell University.

AI and machine learning, some pundits warn, will replace humans in the near future. In reality, those technologies are augmenting the professional skills that people have, Kyle Wiggers writes. He cites a number of examples seen during 2018. “Artificial intelligence is not just helping people create more useful products — we use it in a lot of ways throughout many Google products — but is also emerging as a really powerful tool for improving the society that we live in,” Jeff Dean of Google said in October. “In fact, I’d argue that there’s never been a better time to be working in the field of artificial intelligence.”

The biases built into AI products can be addressed by an algorithm that exposes “offensive associations” in racial issues and bias in publicly available embeddings, according to this analysis.

2018 was the year of the electric scooter and the electric bicycle, all dock-less for convenience and ease of use. This was good and bad for various reasons. San Francisco soon became littered with scooters on sidewalks, which led to a brief ban on the products, and finally resulted in licensing a handful of companies to offer e-scooters in the City by the Bay. In China, e-bicycles were dumped in many places where people were unlikely to reuse them, and some were thrown into lakes and rivers. “If 2017 was the year of dock-less bike-sharing, then 2018 was the year that ushered in an entirely new era for tech-infused personal mobility startups,” Paul Sawers writes.

The Consumer Technology Association is putting on International CES 2019 during the week of January 7th in Las Vegas. Leading topics at the sprawling show will include 5G, AI, autonomous vehicles, blockchain technology, the IoT, health and wellness, home and family, immersive entertainment, robotics and machine intelligence, and sports, especially e-sports.

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