Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

IoT worries; ASUS malware; auto mergers.


Internet of Things
Organizers for the Internet of Things World 2019 conference, coming up on May 13-16 in Santa Clara, Calif., surveyed more than 100 IoT leaders in various industries. Implementation (34%) and security (25%) were the highest concerns for the respondents. Those were followed by initial purchase (17%), scalability (10%), business buy-in (8%), and upkeep costs (3%). Two-thirds of the respondents say their C-suite executives are supportive of their implementation plans. At the front end, 45% of companies report they are deploying IoT devices on a dedicated network to mitigate security issues. In addition, 46% say they are introducing internal training systems for their entire workforce. Meanwhile, 68% are updating firmware and software on a regular basis, 44% are checking devices to see if physical access to the devices makes them vulnerable to hacking, 35% are making data decryption a default, 26% are shutting down devices when they are not in use, and 17% are leveraging blockchain technology to enhance cybersecurity.

Kaspersky Lab reports that tens of thousands of computers made by Asustek Computer (aka ASUS) were infected by malware that resided in the manufacturer’s online automatic update service. The cybersecurity firm detected 57,000 infections among customers of its antivirus software. About half of those infections were in Russia, Germany, and France; the U.S. accounted for less than 5%. Symantec reports that about 13,000 of its antivirus customers got the malicious updates. ASUS acknowledged the infections, while disputing Kaspersky’s estimate of 1 million infected computers around the world.

This week in Huawei – the Department of Defense, in selecting its 5G infrastructure, will likely procure the wireless network systems from Ericsson and Nokia, steering clear of Huawei Technologies. General Joseph F. Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified this week before the House Armed Services Committee, saying, “A foundational element of an alliance is the ability to share information securely and it will be much more difficult to have those kinds of assurances…. given the trends with China’s influence.” Meanwhile, the European Commission issued 5G security recommendations to member nations, calling for a comprehensive risk assessment of networking and telecommunications systems used for 5G cellular communications, while stopping short of recommending a ban on Huawei products. Finally, the U.K.’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre Oversight Board issued its annual report. HCSEC says it sees “serious and systematic defects in Huawei’s software engineering and cyber security competence.”

Norsk Hydro provided an update on the aftermath of its LockerGoga ransomware attack of last week. The aluminum manufacturer estimates the cost of repairing the damage at about $40 million. The company is covered by AIG and other insurance firms for cyber risks.

Renault Group wants to pursue a corporate merger with Nissan Motor, ramping up its ties with the Japanese automotive manufacturer, and then sees following that up with an acquisition of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or another car company, the Financial Times reports. The merger negotiations with Nissan would begin within a year, according to the FT, which also reports that FCA Chairman John Elkann has proposed a merger with PSA Peugeot Citroën and has approached unnamed Chinese and Korean carmakers.

Daimler and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group are forming a joint venture in China to take over production of Daimler’s Smart compact city car, with the goal of making Smart a worldwide brand in all-electric vehicles.

Alibaba, Tencent, Suning, and automotive manufacturers including Chongqing Changan Automobile are investing $1.5 billion into a ride-hailing joint venture in China. Bain & Co. estimates China’s ride-hailing market is worth $23 billion a year, with Didi Chuxing accounting for 90% of those revenues.

Volkswagen and Ford Motor signed a deal for joint development of a pickup truck. The automotive manufacturers continue their discussions on autonomous driving technology and mobility services.

General Motors outlined a plan to spend $1.8 billion on facilities in the U.S., including $300 million for a plant near Detroit that will make Chevrolet electric vehicles. The investment will create 700 jobs at plants in six states, including Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas, in addition to Michigan.

Seattle-based Lumotive, a LiDAR startup backed by Bill Gates, touts its solid-state LiDAR device with liquid crystal metasurface technology.

He Xiaopeng, chairman of Guangzhou Xiaopeng Motors Technology (XMotors), disputes trade-secret lawsuits filed by Tesla and Apple against ex-employees who went to work for XMotors. “We wouldn’t be happy if our IP were taken away by any of our employees. We care a lot about talent, but don’t go after what other companies have done because that won’t help boost our competitiveness,” he says.

Uber Technologies and other companies that pay contractors to provide their services are lobbying U.S. states to maintain their workers’ status as contractors, not employees, which would add to the costs of those companies, this analysis notes. Tusk Ventures, a venture-capital and political-strategy firm, helped the Texas Workforce Commission draft regulations on gig-economy jobs. Bradley Tusk, the firm’s founder, once was a political consultant to Uber.

“I will die before I buy another car,” Kara Swisher writes in this opinion piece. Once her current vehicle is no longer operable, she will dispense with car ownership and all of its responsibilities. The future is car hailing and car sharing, she notes. Meanwhile, psychiatrist Vatsal G. Thakkar has a suggestion for the inattention of drivers in autonomous vehicles – bring back manual transmissions. The activity involved with a stick shift will keep the person behind the wheel thoroughly engaged in the act of driving and lessen the likelihood of failing to recognize situations needing human interaction, he asserts.

Arm will work with leading vendors of smart meters and advanced meter infrastructure to deliver comprehensive, secure IoT offerings to utilities, employing Mbed OS and the Pelion platform. The company is partnering with EDMI Limited to simplify and speed up the secure deployment of connected smart meters and AMI offerings.

Achronix Semiconductor reports the completion of testing of its 112 gigabits per second SerDes that will be incorporated in its next-generation field-programmable gate arrays. Those devices will be fabricated with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing’s 7-nanometer FinFET process technology.

Arteris IP licensed its FlexNoC interconnect IP to Morningcore Technology for use in its next-generation automotive LTE vehicle-to-vehicle/vehicle-to-infrastructure ((V2X) communication modems.

DAIKIN, a leading manufacturer of air conditioners, chose the Xpedition printed circuit board design flow software from Mentor, a Siemens Business, for their worldwide design environment. Xpedition provides data management, design collaboration, and collaboration capabilities. It was also announced that Arm will offer Mentor’s Tessent TestKompress software cell-aware library models for the Arm Artisan Physical IP development environment.

Synopsys collaborated with Samsung Foundry to provide a secure, scalable cloud-based IC design and verification environment on the Synopsys Cloud Solution for designers using Samsung Foundry’s process technology.

TDK introduced the programmable HAL 1890 linear Hall-effect sensor, which is AEC-Q100 qualified for use in automotive and industrial applications. The part is currently in sampling, with production planned for the second half of this year.

FogHorn Systems brought out Lightning Mobile, an edge computing offering for industrial mobile devices. GSMA Intelligence forecasts Industrial IoT connections will overtake consumer IoT connections by 2023, increasing more than five-fold to 13.8 billion connections in 2025.

Infineon Technologies debuted the OPTIGA TPM SLM 9670 module, which complies with the Trusted Computing Group’s TPM 2.0 standard. The module can be used in industrial PCs, servers, industrial controllers, and edge gateways.

Intrinsic ID reports that Tyrion Integration selected its hardware root-of-trust technology for use in Nucleus, Tyrion’s Industrial IoT SCADA gateway device for the oil and gas industries.

Uber agreed to acquire Careem, its ride-hailing competitor in the Middle East, for a total of $3.1 billion. The deal involves $1.4 billion in cash and $1.7 billion in convertible notes. The transaction is expected to close in early 2020, presumably after Uber completes its initial public offering. Careem had raised around $775 million from DCM Ventures, Didi Chuxing, Kingdom Holding, Rakuten, and other investors.

Reuters reports that Avaya of Santa Clara, Calif., is considering a takeover offer from a private equity firm at an enterprise value of more than $5 billion, including debt. The news agency cites people familiar with the matter. Silver Lake Partners and TPG Capital bought Avaya for $8.3 billion in 2007. The telecom equipment and software company later filed for bankruptcy.

Inmarsat agreed to be acquired for about $3.4 billion in cash by an investor consortium led by Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus. Apax previously was part of an investor consortium that bought Inmarsat in 2003 and took the satellite company public in 2005.

Carbonite completed its $618.5 million acquisition of Webroot. John Post, who was Webroot’s chief financial officer, will serve as the senior vice president and general manager of the Webroot business unit, reporting to Mohamad Ali, Carbonite’s president and CEO.

Dragos of Hanover, Md., acquired Atlanta-based NexDefense, a provider of industrial control systems visibility software. Financial terms weren’t revealed. NexDefense had raised almost $10 million from private investors.

Lyft priced its initial public offering at $72 a share, raising about $2.3 billion for the ride-hailing company, now valued at more than $24 billion. The Class A common shares trade as LYFT on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The stock opened Friday at $87.24, up 21% from the offering price of $72, and later settled down around $80 a share. LYFT closed its first day of trading at $78.29, up $6.29 or 8.7% for the day.

Electra Meccanica Vehicles of Vancouver, B.C., took in gross proceeds of about $12 million in a registered direct offering of common shares. The EV company will receive approximately $11 million after underwriting discounts and commissions, and other estimated offering expenses.

Venture capitalists were once a close-mouthed group, unless they invested early in a big, strike-it-rich startup, such as Apple or Netflix. Nowadays, they are hiring public relations agencies to publicize their investments, this analysis notes. Andreesen Horowitz took that trend a step farther, hiring an in-house PR staff.

Google’s robotics program, once known as Replicant, acquired several companies and had an ambitious internal effort. Over the years, however, some acquisitions were shut down and others were sold, with Boston Dynamics going to SoftBank Group. The program is now called Robotics at Google, and it’s less of a moonshot effort now, according to this analysis. Google is now focusing on implementing machine learning with relatively simple robots, training them to work in warehouses and other applications.

Kryon, a developer of enterprise automation, is partnering with Proservartner, an international consulting firm. The management consultancy will work with the New York-based company in promoting and implementing the Kryon Process Discovery offering and robotic process automation technology.

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