Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Year of the Pig; Huawei’s way; mobility JV.


Internet of Things
Yingzi Technology of Guangzhou, China, has developed a “future pig farm” to demonstrate what technology can do to make keeping pigs more profitable in a country that is trying to reduce the number of small farms raising pigs and consolidate them into larger operations. China is also contending with an outbreak of African swine fever that has spread out of the country through pork products contaminated with the contagion. China has a strategic pork reserve to keep the popular meat on its dinner tables. Alibaba and JD.com, the e-commerce giants, are deploying cameras to capture pig faces, while Alibaba is using voice-recognition software to detect coughing pigs.

Sensor data collected in smart cities can help improve the quality of life in those cities, Karen Lightman (formerly executive director of the MEMS & Sensors Industry Group) writes for Axios. “Municipalities could use anonymized, secure sensor data in combination with advanced computing to better understand how people travel through and use public space, without sacrificing individual privacy,” she writes. “Academic researchers and urban planners can leverage the latest sensors — including ‘camera-as-sensor’ technologies, which convert a camera’s optical image into an electronic signal — to gather and share insights about roads, intersections and public spaces.”

Google is aiming at Internet of Things developers with an open-source software development kit being made available on the Google Cloud Platform. The new Cloud IoT Device SDK runs on the managed Cloud IoT Core service, offering an open-source collection of Embedded C libraries enabling developers to “connect, provision, and manage” IoT devices on Cloud IoT Core.

Arm had a lot of news this week at MWC19 in Barcelona, Spain. The company announced the PSA Certified program, a joint effort with security testing laboratories to certify that IoT devices have Platform Security Architecture implementations. Brightsight, CAICT, Riscure, and UL are participating in the program, along with the Prove & Run consulting firm. Arm is partnering with China Unicom to provide IoT scalability, security, and simplicity to Chinese enterprises and global companies establishing a business presence in China through the use of Arm Pelion Device Management, Arm Mbed OS, China Unicom’s new IoT platform, and a rich device and application ecosystem. The company will collaborate with Vodafone under a strategic agreement. After working together on integrated SIM technology, Arm and Vodafone will join Vodafone’s IoT global platform and connectivity with Arm’s IoT software and services to provide enterprises with connected, programmable system-on-a-chip designs eliminating the need for traditional SIM cards, simplifying IoT deployments.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers urges unsecured domains to adopt the Domain Name System Security Extensions. ICANN said in a statement that the organization “believes that there is an ongoing and significant risk to key parts of the Domain Name System (DNS) infrastructure.” It added, “In the context of increasing reports of malicious activity targeting the DNS infrastructure, ICANN is calling for full deployment of the Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC) across all unsecured domain names…Although DNSSEC cannot solve all forms of attack against the DNS, when it is used, unauthorized modification to DNS information can be detected, and users are blocked from being misdirected.”

MWC19 Barcelona was abuzz with discussion of the power struggle between Huawei Technologies and the Trump administration. “Many operators are now delaying their 5G investments because there is so much uncertainty related to whether they can work with Huawei or not,” said Mikael Rautanen, an industry analyst with Inderes Oy, a research firm. “That affects the whole telecommunications sector.” While the U.S. is beating the drum about cybersecurity and Huawei, the Chinese vendor is expanding operations in Canada, planning to hire 200 new employees, boosting its Canadian workforce by about 20%. The company also committed to increasing its investment in Canadian research and development by 15%, on top of $136 million announced last year. Meanwhile, an American ally, the United Arab Emirates, announced at MWC19 that it would use Huawei systems in its next-generation 5G wireless networks. The UAE’s state-owned telecommunications company, Etisalat, said Huawei will help build 300 5G towers during the first half of 2019. European industry leaders and policy chiefs gathered in Barcelona for the sprawling annual mobile technology conference are determined to not allow the U.S. to dictate their choices of telecom equipment. “You’re going to see a messy, essentially managed response that will probably vary in detail from country to country,” Forrester Research analyst Frank Gillett told Reuters. “In the end it’s about containing and managing the risk of Huawei, as well as any other vendor, but particularly Huawei.”

Academic security researchers discovered three flaws in 4G and 5G cellular communications that could allow attackers to intercept phone calls and track the locations of cellphone users. “Any person with a little knowledge of cellular paging protocols can carry out this attack,” said Syed Rafiul Hussain, one of the co-authors of the paper.

Intel terminated a 5G technology development agreement with Tsinghua Unigroup, the chipmaker owned by the government of China, in which Intel has held a 20% equity stake since 2014. The companies were working on a 5G Android smartphone platform that would be marketed in China during the latter half of this year, pairing Intel’s 5G modem with a Unigroup chipset. Intel said the decision was mutual between the parties and not driven by pressure from the Trump administration. Nikkei reports that Intel wanted not to “somehow upset U.S. authorities given the current tension” with China, and backed off the deal after the unexpected departure of its key advocate, former CEO Brian Krzanich. At MWC19, Intel claimed the work with Unisoc (formerly the Spreadtrum & RDA unit of Unigroup) was ended because it wanted to work directly with smartphone manufacturers in China to win sockets for its 5G modem chip. “On Unisoc, we’ve actually ended that partnership … we decided mutually that we would not continue that partnership,” Rob Topol, Intel’s general manager of 5G Advanced Technologies, said at MWC19. He added, “What we’re going to do is we’re going to target essentially some of our compute and 5G solutions just directly to the OEMs of China.”

Cryptojacking, a form of unauthorized cryptocurrency mining activity, is apparently replacing ransomware attacks as the most prevalent type of cyberattack, IBM reports. The 2019 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index was released this week. “One of the biggest surprises from our perspective was the significant decline in ransomware compared to the past few years,” said Michelle Alvarez, threat research manager for IBM X-Force IRIS. “We anticipated we would see somewhat of a reduction given the extensive communication efforts by the security community and law enforcement around ‘don’t pay the ransom’; however, the 45% drop in ransomware attacks in the period of one calendar year is pretty significant.” She added, “Over the last couple of years we’ve been highlighting the increase in network attacks leveraging cryptomining tools, but the massive increase in cryptojacking attacks—450% over the same time frame—has really brought this threat to the forefront.”

Akamai Technologies reports that retailer websites last year were a frequent target of credential abuse attacks. This abuse, also known as credential stuffing, occurred more than 10 billion times from May to December of 2018, according to the Akamai 2019 State of the Internet/Security: Retail Attacks and API Traffic report. Other prevalent attacks involved the preponderance of API-call traffic on the Web and the apparent misrepresentation of IPv6-based traffic.

BMW and Daimler will spend more than €1 billion (approximately $1.14 billion) on a joint venture that will be involved in ride hailing, parking, and charging of electric vehicles. BMW will join its DriveNow, ParkNow, and ChargeNow businesses with Daimler’s Car2Go car-sharing brand. The joint venture will have five services: REACH NOW, a smartphone-based route management and booking service, CHARGE NOW for electric car charging, FREE NOW for taxi ride-hailing, PARK NOW for parking services, and SHARE NOW for car-sharing. The two companies have also announced they will collaborate on self-driving car technology, which BMW has been developing since 2006. Daimler has also been working on autonomous vehicle technology and set plans to start a pilot program with self-driving cars this year in San Jose, Calif.

People are getting over car ownership. That’s the point raised by this analysis. With the increasing availability of ride-hailing, car-sharing, and ride-sharing services, Americans and others are taking advantage of widening mobility, ditching the costs and responsibilities of personally owning a vehicle.

SEAT of Spain, which is owned by Volkswagen Group, will collaborate with IBM on developing the Mobility Advisor application, aimed at helping people navigate in urban environments. IBM will provide Watson AI and machine learning technology to the project. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports that VW will invest about $1.7 billion in Ford Motor’s Argo AI subsidiary, which will become the nucleus of a joint venture between the two automotive manufacturers.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to spend $4.5 billion over three years to update plants in the Detroit area to make Jeep vehicles, creating about 6,500 new jobs. At the same time, the company announced that it will lay off 1,371 employees at a Jeep Cherokee plant in Belvidere, Ill. The plant now has a workforce of 5,464 people. FCA said there were no plans to rehire the laid-off Belvidere employees to work at the Detroit plants.

Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors invested billions of dollars in factories in China, with the ultimate goal of producing vehicles for the U.S. market there. The worldwide slowdown in the automotive market and the U.S. trade war with China are making that plan apparently obsolete, this analysis notes.

The Securities and Exchange Commission alleges that Tesla CEO Elon Musk has violated his settlement agreement with the financial regulator by inflating vehicle production figures in a Twitter tweet. The SEC petitioned U.S. District Court in Manhattan to cite the executive for contempt of court. It seems unlikely that the court will remove Musk from Tesla’s management. He has acknowledged a lack of respect for the SEC, which he last year called the Shortseller Enrichment Commission.

Electra Meccanica Vehicles of Vancouver, B.C., held a grand opening for its factory in Chongqing, China. Initial production of the company’s SOLO electric vehicle has begun at the Chinese plant, which expects to turn out about 50 SOLO EVs by March 31 of this year. The company plans to produce a total of 5,000 vehicles by the end of 2019.

Cepton Technologies, a LiDAR startup in San Jose, Calif., is opening an office in Detroit to support May Mobility, North American Lighting, and other customers in the Motor City area. May Mobility’s self-driving shuttles, which are being used in Detroit and other cities, use Cepton’s LiDAR sensors, which are being manufactured by Celestica and will go into full volume production in 2020.

Marvell Technology Group will continue to work with Samsung Electronics on technology for next-generation wireless infrastructure networks, developing and debuting radio and control plane processors for LTE and 5G New Radio connectivity. At MWC19, Marvell demonstrated highly optimized networking engines, offering products for Wi-Fi 6, LTE-A, and 5G NR, along with wired networks. The company also introduced a highly flexible, end-to-end, optimized 5G platform. Meanwhile, Marvell is collaborating with Tuxera to develop scalable shared-storage infrastructure for autonomous and connected cars.

Synopsys showcased its prototyping, IP, and application security testing offerings at this week’s embedded world conference in Nuremberg, Germany. The company demonstrated its Virtualizer Development Kits, DesignWare ARC EV6x Embedded Vision Processors, and DesignWare 56G Ethernet PHY IP at the conference. Meanwhile, Synopsys and Palma Ceia SemiDesign announced the integration of Palma Ceia’s LTE Cat NB1/NB2 RF transceiver IP with Synopsys’ DesignWare ARC EM9D Processor IP to deliver a complete low-power NB-IoT IP solution for both standalone or embedded modems. Synopsys also debuted the new Enhanced Security Package for Synopsys DesignWare ARC HS Processors, enabling designers to develop isolated, secure environments that help protect embedded systems and software from evolving threats in high-end automotive, storage, and gateway applications.

AT&T and Vodafone Business will work together on IoT applications for the automotive space, emphasizing safety, security, and entertainment. The companies will develop connected-car offerings for the North American, European, and African markets.

Ericsson agreed to acquire Kathrein’s antenna and filters unit, which had 2018 sales of about €270 million (roughly $307 million) and employs around 4,000 people. Financial details weren’t disclosed. “With this acquisition we strengthen our presence, first of all for 4G…but also ultimately in 5G. It’s a strategically very important acquisition for us,” Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm told Reuters at MWC19 Barcelona.

BlackBerry completed its $1.4 billion acquisition of Irvine, Calif.-based Cylance, an artificial intelligence and cybersecurity firm that will now be known as BlackBerry Cylance. Stuart McClure, the CEO of Cylance, will serve as the president of BlackBerry Cylance.

Market Research
The Netherlands ranks first in KPMG’s 2019 Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index, followed by Singapore, Norway, the United States, and Sweden. The new report adds five countries to last year’s total, expanding the rankings to 25 countries. Download the report here.

The annual RSA Conference takes over the Moscone Center in San Francisco next week. This year’s theme is “Better.” More than 30,000 attendees are expected. The exposition will fill Moscone’s North and South halls with 400-plus exhibitors, along with an Early Stage Expo at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. Synopsys will showcase its new Polaris Software Integrity Platform at booth 1135 in the South Hall. Intel will be in booth 6173 in the North Hall with its industry customers and partners, demonstrating its new Intel SGX Card for the cloud and data centers. Fortinet is also in the North Hall, booth 5869, demonstrating its Security Fabric and sharing cyberthreat research from FortiGuard Labs.

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