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Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Drones amok; newspaper cyberattacks; Ghosn jailed.

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Internet of Things
The drone episode last month at Gatwick Airport in the United Kingdom forced the cancellation or diversion of more than 1,000 flights over three days. While local police arrested a couple suspected of being behind the drone flights, they were quickly exonerated and released. Questions remain on how airports should respond to such episodes, which are bound to happen again and more frequently. Meanwhile, the European Union countries are trying to work out regulations governing the use of drones for deliveries and other civil applications. Amazon Prime Air is among the companies taking part in the European project known as Safir, which aims to set rules for commercial operation of drones. Unifly, an aviation software company developing drone management systems, has received €14.6 million (about $16.6 million) in Series B funding from Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) and other investors. The company has raised €21 million (around $23.8 million) in total private funding.

Cybersecurity
Newspaper printing plants in California and Florida saw production disrupted by cyberattacks late last year. The Los Angeles Times, one of the daily papers affected, said the attacks originated from outside the United States, without naming a specific point of origin. The malware involved appeared to be similar to the Ryuk ransomware, which some cybersecurity experts say originated in North Korea, while CrowdStrike said these particular cyberattacks may have come from cybercriminals in Eastern Europe.

The Department of Homeland Security has warned managed services providers, managed security service providers and cloud services providers to be on the lookout for advanced persistent threats specifically targeting such companies. The department’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center has been tracking those threats for more than two years. “Threat actors appear to be leveraging stolen administrative credentials (local and domain) and certificates, along with placing sophisticated malware implants on critical systems,” the center said in an alert to providers. “Depending on the defensive mitigations in place, the threat actor could possibly gain full access to networks and data in a way that appears legitimate to existing monitoring tools.”

Will data breaches continue to occur during 2019? Most definitely, according to Robert Ackerman Jr., founder and a managing director of AllegisCyber and a founder of DataTribe. “Look for AI-driven chatbots to go rogue, a substantial increase in crimeware-as-a-service, acceleration of the weaponization of data, a resurgence in ransomware and a significant increase in nation-stage cyberattacks. Also on a growth track is so-called cryptojacking — a quiet, more insidious avenue of profit that relies on invasive methods of initial access and drive-by scripts on websites to steal resources from unsuspecting victims,” he writes in this analysis.

The Federal Communications Commission and other regulators are investigating an Internet outage that disrupted 911 service across the U.S. The outage originated in the network of CenturyLink, the large telecommunications company headquartered in Monroe, La. The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is leading the federal investigation of the outage’s cause and its effects. While the company denied the outage was caused by hacking, it did not specify what the actual cause was.

The Department of Health and Human Services released cybersecurity guidelines for the health-care industry in a four-volume publication developed with more than 150 cybersecurity and health care experts.

Automotive Tech
Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motor and Mitsubishi Motors, was looking forward to retirement when he was arrested on Nov. 19 in Japan. At the age of 64, he was weary of the constant travel required for supervising the international Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, even as he was usually transported aboard a company-owned Gulfstream jet aircraft. This analysis looks at his rise to the top of the third largest automobile group in the world. Meanwhile, a court in Tokyo on Monday ordered his detention without bail to continue to Jan. 11 as prosecutors investigate allegations of financial misconduct by the executive.

Tesla fulfilled an obligation imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission by naming Larry Ellison, Oracle’s executive chairman and chief technology officer, and Kathleen Wilson-Thompson, executive vice president and global chief human resources officer at Walgreen Boots Alliance, to the carmaker’s board of directors. The company earlier named Robyn Denholm, the chief financial officer of Telstra, as the board’s chairwoman, succeeding founder and CEO Elon Musk.

Mark Reuss, a 35-year veteran of General Motors, was named president of GM, effective immediately. He succeeds Dan Ammann, who this week became CEO of GM Cruise. Reuss previously served as executive vice president of global product design.

Products/Services
Arm introduced the Mali-C52 and Mali-C32 image signal processors to provide higher image quality in drones, Internet protocol cameras, and smart homes assistants and security. New applications will be able to take advantage of Arm Iridix technology, it was said.

Samsung Electronics unveiled its Exynos Auto V9 processor, the first of the company’s Exynos-branded chips for automotive applications, in-vehicle infotainment systems in particular. Audi will incorporate the Exynos Auto V9 in its next-generation infotainment system, which will be in vehicles by 2021. The new processor is fabricated with an 8-nanometer process and boasts eight Arm Cortex-A76 cores, an Arm Mali-G76 GPU, four HiFi 4 audio signal processors, and an intelligent neural processing unit. The chip works with LPDDR4 and LPDDR5 DRAMs.

Silicon Storage Technology, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microchip Technology, says its high-speed embedded SuperFlash technology is qualified to the Automotive Electronics Council’s AEC-Q100 Grade 1 on United Microelectronics’ 55-nanometer platform. Microcontrollers with embedded flash memory are seeing greater use in automotive electronics, SST notes.

RoboSense of Shenzhen, China, will demonstrate an upgraded version of its MEMS-based solid-state LiDAR device at CES 2019 next week in Las Vegas. The RS-LiDAR-M1 will fully support Level 5 automated driving, according to the company.

Also at CES 2019, Velodyne Lidar will demonstrate its latest products at its booth. These include the Velodyne Alpha Puck, Velodyne Velarray, and its augmented reality demo. The company last month reported that Nikon made a strategic investment of $25 million in Velodyne Lidar. Nikon and Velodyne plan to work together.

Analysis
The Department of Commerce is taking public comments on a proposal to place export controls on artificial intelligence technology under provisions in the Export Controls Act of 2018. The controls may affect a number of AI categories, including computer vision, natural language processing and speech recognition. Technologists are concerned that the move may inhibit research and development in AI. The administration is highly attuned to technology theft by China, while also countering efforts by Russia and Iran, which are the subjects of U.S. trade embargoes.

M&A
Google acquired Superpod, developer of a question-and-answer mobile application, for a purchase price that was reportedly less than $60 million. Superpod’s founders, Sophia Yang and William Li, rejoined Google as a result. The startup was established in 2016 as Sparks, according to Pitchbook, and raised seed funding from such investors as Precursor Ventures, Charlie Cheever, Social Capital, Graph Ventures, and The House Fund, AngelList says.



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