Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Cities and tech; Norsk Hydro; AV safety and security.


Internet of Things
Second-tier cities in the U.S. that can’t attract projects like the Amazon HQ2 are welcoming the testing of autonomous vehicles, smart city technology, and advanced surveillance techniques, this analysis notes. What do they get in return? Much of the time, little or nothing. And bad things can happen. People have been throwing objects at Waymo vehicles in Chandler, Ariz., and one angry old man even pointed a handgun at a self-driving car passing by his property. Another Phoenix suburb, Tempe, was the scene of the first fatality caused by an AV a year ago. “There’s a huge asymmetry in power and knowledge,” says Jake Dunagan of the Institute for the Future. Arizona has the least restrictive AV regulations in the country, hoping to attract big tech companies to invest in operations there.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is working with IBM in implementing Internet of Things technology to improve operations and service. The transit agency wants to use predictive maintenance technology to improve reliability of assets, minimize costs, and create a transit asset management tool to provide asset inventory, condition assessment, performance measures, and decision support.

Ingram Micro aims to make IoT implementations easier and simpler through its new IoT Marketplace. The distributor is offering development kits including sensors, gateways, and other components for IoT projects. Eric Hembree, the company’s director of IoT, had a plain message for attendees at last week’s Ingram Micro Cloud Summit X conference in San Diego: “Stop making IoT so hard.” He added, “We want to simplify it. We want to standardize the process.”

Sprint brought out the Curiosity IoT Estimation Tool, software that provides immediate access to customized Sprint Curiosity IoT data pricing for small and medium-size businesses, along with enterprise customers. Its features include unique access point names for IoT devices, SMS real-time alerts and notifications, data management, and device management.

The cyberattack on Norsk Hydro, the Norway-based aluminum manufacturer, apparently spread from the U.S. Cybersecurity experts are generally commending the company for its quick response to the ransomware attack, warning employees and visitors to not connect any laptops or mobile devices to the Norsk Hydro network. It suspended operations at some plants to keep the ransomware from spreading. Phil Neray, vice president of industrial cybersecurity at CyberX, a Boston-based Industrial Internet of Things and industrial control systems security firm, said of the attack, “Manufacturing companies are an obvious target for ransomware because downtime is measured in millions of dollars per day — so as you might expect, CEOs are eager to pay. Plus the security of industrial networks has been neglected for years, so malware spreads quickly from infected employee computers in a single office to manufacturing plants in all other countries. These attacks are especially serious for metal or chemical manufacturers because of the risk of serious safety and environmental incidents, and the bottom-line impact from spoilage of in-process materials and clean-up costs.” Cisco Talos identified the malware involved as LockerGoga. “It is a ransomware variant that, while lacking in sophistication, can still cause extensive damage when leveraged against organizations or individuals,” it stated.

The U.S. government needs the help of private businesses to combat cybersecurity threats from China and Russia, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Monday in her annual State of Homeland Security address. Government and the private sector need to progress beyond the partnering and information sharing phases, she emphasized. “Today, I am more worried about the ability of bad guys to hijack our networks than their ability to hijack our flights,” Nielsen said. “America is not prepared for this. Your average private citizen or company is no match against a nation-state such as China, Iran, North Korea, or Russia. It is not a fair fight. And until now our government has done far too little to back them up.”

This week in Huawei – attempts by the Trump administration to convince allies that they shouldn’t use telecommunications and networking equipment from Chinese manufacturers are not going well, this analysis notes. Germany, India, the United Arab Emirates, and the U.K. are among the countries that have rejected the U.S. assertions that such equipment, especially for 5G wireless networks, is compromised and could be used by Beijing to gain access to data and intelligence that normally wouldn’t be shared with China’s government. Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone are among the carriers using Huawei gear, and to rip out such equipment would be disruptive to their operations. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said Wednesday that Huawei is making it difficult for European carriers to drop the Chinese vendor from their supply chain for 5G wireless service. Concerning the Trump administration’s anti-Huawei stance, Stephenson said, “I don’t think our government is doing their best work in explaining why this security risk exists.” He added, “We have to ask ourselves a question: If that much of our infrastructure will be attached to this kind of technology, do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology? We damn well better be.”

Dan Lohrman, chief security officer and chief strategist at Security Mentor, interviews Deborah Snyder, New York State’s chief information security officer, in this piece. The New York State Office of Information Technology Services, created in 2012, “has established a comprehensive cybersecurity program and made significant investments in enhancing the state’s cybersecurity posture and capabilities. We cover a wide range of services including statewide policies, standards, program governance, compliance, risk management, information security training and exercises, vulnerability and threat management, threat intelligence analysis, security operations center monitoring, and detection (including oversight of third-party managed security services), and digital forensics and incident response,” she says.

Six universities in the St. Louis area established the Gateway Higher Education Cybersecurity Consortium, with the goal of advancing cybersecurity education and research. The charter institutions are Fontbonne University, Saint Louis University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Webster University, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Forrester Research named CrowdStrike as an industry leader in The Forrester Wave: Cybersecurity Incident Response (IR) Services Q1 2019. That report, which names 14 other companies that are deemed as the most significant vendors of cybersecurity IR services, is available here.

Safety and cybersecurity in autonomous vehicles need to be developed together, this analysis asserts. “As cars become increasingly complex, modifying one aspect of the technology could create an unexpected vulnerability in another feature, making it crucial to develop safety and cybersecurity as integrated systems,” writes Marjory S. Blumenthal, senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Ford Motor plans to cut more than 5,000 jobs in Germany and will also reduce its workforce in the U.K., the company announced. The automotive manufacturer will offer voluntary redundancy programs for employees in Britain and Germany. Ford Europe is aiming to realize a 6% operating margin, similar to a plan at the Volkswagen Group.

Just when Volkswagen seemed to be putting its diesel emissions scandal in the past and touting its future in electric vehicles, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit alleging that former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn was aware of the emissions testing fraud in November of 2007, defrauding American investors for years. A criminal indictment brought by federal prosecutors a year ago against Winterkorn and other VW executives charges that the company was involved in a conspiracy to cover up deficiencies in diesel engine designs for nearly a decade. Winterkorn has denied those allegations.

Private test tracks are seeing more activity in autonomous vehicle research and development, in an attempt to avoid very public setbacks, such as the killing of a pedestrian by an Uber Technologies vehicle last year. These tracks can insert a “virtual human” in the path of a self-driving car to see how its software reacts to the situation, this analysis notes. Scania and Volvo Cars are using a test track in Gothenburg, Sweden, operated by AstaZero.

General Motors said it would invest $2.7 billion over five years in two factories in Sao Caetano do Sul and Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. The company last year said it would shutter those two plants in a worldwide reorganization, but GM was convinced by Brazilian officials to keep the plants running.

Ford will spend about $900 million and hire about 900 workers to assemble electric and self-driving vehicles in Michigan, while moving production of a small commercial van from Europe to Mexico. The company budgeted $850 million to make battery-powered vehicles at its plant in Flat Rock, Michigan, while also investing $50 million in a facility near Detroit, where workers will add self-driving software to autonomous vehicles manufactured elsewhere.

Tesla last week unveiled its Model Y compact SUV, with deliveries commencing in the fall of 2020. The first Model Y versions will have starting prices ranging from $47,000 to $60,000. The company is taking orders for the vehicles, charging a deposit of $2,500. Tesla will make a more affordable version of the Model Y, with prices of $39,000 and up; production is now scheduled for the spring of 2021. Meanwhile, Tesla filed a lawsuit this week against Guangzhi Cao, a former engineer on its Autopilot team, claiming that he uploaded more than 300,000 files and directories, along with copies of source code, before quitting his job in early January and then going to work for Xiaopeng Motors Technology, a Chinese firm also known as XMotors. A separate lawsuit was lodged against former employees in warehouse and distribution center management, who allegedly took corporate information and trade secrets to Zoox, a competitor in self-driving vehicle technology.

TomTom is involved in the development of autonomous vehicles, establishing technology partnerships with Microsoft, Nissan Motor, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Volkswagen. In addition, multiple automotive manufacturers selected the company to provide high-definition maps for their next-generation vehicles. TomTom and Elektrobit collaborated on an HD “map horizon” for autonomous driving.

Arm Treasure Data is revamping its user experience, with an emphasis on simpler navigation. The changes mean faster development of integrations, scalable segmentation, and flexible privacy controls for enterprises. The company has opened a data center in the European Union to support use cases around the world.

Arteris IP reports that Vayyar Imaging licensed Arteris FlexNoC interconnect intellectual property and the accompanying FlexNoc Resilience Package for use in its next-generation radio-frequency 3D imaging chips for automotive systems. Meanwhile, Sonics and Arteris agreed to dismiss a patent infringement lawsuit that Sonics filed against Arteris in 2011. The litigation was dismissed with no funds changing hands, according to Arteris. Sonics this month was acquired by Facebook.

Synopsys debuted its next-generation IC Validator NXT physical verification offering, which it says can enable design teams to reduce their physical signoff cycle by 2x for advanced technology nodes. The company also reports that its Fusion Design Platform has achieved more than 100 tape-outs for chip designs with 7-nanometer features, as customers realized 20% better quality-of-results and more than 2x time-to-results speed-up. The Synopsys TestMAX line of products for test and diagnosis capabilities was unveiled for all digital, memory, and analog portions of an IC device design; TestMAX includes capabilities for automotive test and functional safety. Finally, Synopsys brought out the new embARC Machine Learning Inference software library for development of power-efficient neural network system-on-a-chip designs with the company’s ARC EM and HS DSP processor IP.

Myriota introduced its Developer Toolkit, enabling developers to integrate the Myriota direct-to-satellite communications technology with IoT products. The Myriota Software Development Kit is publicly accessible through GitHub, providing an application programming interface for job scheduling, sensor input/output, diagnostics, and access to the company’s communications stack.

Inmarsat says it received a takeover offer from an investor consortium for about $3.3 billion in cash. The British satellite company would be taken private under the proposed transaction. Apax Partners, Warburg Pincus, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board are among the investors in the consortium. The group is required to make a formal offer by April 16, according to Inmarsat, which last year rejected an offer from EchoStar to buy the company for $3.25 billion in cash and stock.

Atlassian is acquiring AgileCraft of Georgetown, Texas, for $166 million. AgileCraft offers software for teams using the Agile development method to monitor and update software development projects. The startup was founded in 2013, and in 2015 it received $10 million in Series A funding led by Crane Nelson, a private equity firm.

Okta completed its $52.5 million acquisition of Azuqua, which offers no-code, cloud-based business application integration and workflow automation. Nikhil Hasija, Azuqua’s founder and chief product officer, is joining Okta’s engineering team to help lead the company’s workflow automation strategy, starting with the integration of Azuqua’s workflow offering into Okta’s Lifecycle Management product.

ZF Friedrichshafen acquired a 60% equity stake in 2getthere B.V., a developer of automated transport systems; financial terms weren’t disclosed. Founded in 1984, 2getthere provides driverless electric transport systems to airports, business parks, and theme parks, along with dedicated urban transport infrastructures. ZF made the investment as part of its mobility-as-a-service strategy.

The Lyft initial public offering may happen next week, and the ride-hailing startup hopes to reach a valuation of up to $23 billion with the Class A common stock offering. The company set a pricing range of $62 to $68 per share, which would provide Lyft with more than $2 billion. The shares would trade as LYFT on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Reuters reports the IPO is oversubscribed by potential investors, citing people familiar with the matter. If this is true, the company could be valued at more than $23 billion when it goes public. Meanwhile, Uber selected the New York Stock Exchange for its IPO, Bloomberg reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. It’s gonna be huge.

Market Research
Tractica forecasts the worldwide manufacturing sector’s spending on artificial intelligence software, hardware, and services will increase from $2.9 billion last year to $13.2 billion by 2025.

Filament has joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which promotes enterprise blockchain deployments using Ethereum-based technology.

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