Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Wing over America; CIA warning; Ford’s $500M.


Internet of Things
Wing received an Air Carrier Certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin making commercial deliveries with drones. The Alphabet unit is cleared to deliver packages in southwestern Virginia. Wing has had a pilot program going in the vicinity of Canberra, Australia, and was recently permitted to make commercial deliveries with unmanned aerial vehicles in the suburbs of Australia’s national capital. For the first commercial deliveries by drones in the U.S., Wing’s UAVs are limited to flying below 400 feet, will be operated only during the day, and one drone pilot can control up to five flying machines. The service is set to begin this year; no specific date is set.

Mozilla’s staff has worked on Project Things, an open implementation of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web of Things standard, for about two years. Since announcing Project Things in February of last year, the organization now introduces the open-source Internet of Things platform as Mozilla WebThings, with a number of added features. “The Mozilla IoT team’s mission is to create a Web of Things implementation which embodies those values and helps drive IoT standards for security, privacy and interoperability,” Mozilla’s Ben Francis wrote in a blog post. “We look forward to a future in which Mozilla WebThings software is installed on commercial products that can provide consumers with a trusted agent for their ‘smart,’ connected home.” The platform’s core components are version 0.8 of the WebThings Gateway and the WebThings Framework.

As the American population ages, IoT technology is emerging to help the elderly in their daily lives. MedMinder offers a new wrinkle on medication containers, providing a flashing light to remind seniors to take their prescriptions. If there is no response to the flashing cue, audio reminders begin, and later alerts are sent to caregivers if the individual fails to take the medication on time. Grandcare supplies a network of home sensors feeding into a Web portal for health care providers, caregivers, and seniors.

This week in Huawei – the Central Intelligence Agency is telling allies that the Chinese vendor has received funding from the People’s Liberation Army, China’s National Security Commission, and a third branch of the Chinese state intelligence network, The Times of London reports, citing a source in the United Kingdom. The CIA shared those claims with its partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the U.K. Britain has decided to give Huawei Technologies a restricted role in building parts of its 5G wireless network, following a meeting this week of the National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May. “We welcome reports that the U.K. government is moving towards allowing Huawei to help build the U.K.’s 5G networks,” a Huawei spokesman told Reuters. “While we await a formal government announcement, we will continue work cooperatively with the government and the industry and their evidence-based approach to network security.” Meanwhile, Huawei reported its revenue in the first quarter of 2019 was $26.78 billion, a 39% increase from a year earlier. The privately held company did not disclose its net profit from the quarter, while saying its net profit margin is about 8%. Huawei shipped 59 million smartphones during Q1. “2019 will be a year of large-scale deployment of 5G around the world, meaning that Huawei’s Carrier Business Group has unprecedented opportunities for growth,” the company said in a statement. Finally, who owns Huawei Technologies? The answer is complicated, very complicated.

Domain hijacking attacks are accelerating this year, indicating that state-sponsored actors are behind the trend, according to Cisco Talos, which is calling the cyberthreat campaign “Sea Turtle.” Cisco Talos states in a blog post, “The ongoing operation likely began as early as January 2017 and has continued through the first quarter of 2019. Our investigation revealed that at least 40 different organizations across 13 different countries were compromised during this campaign.”

Marcus Hutchins, the British security researcher who disabled the WannaCry variant that crippled the National Health Service and many other organizations around the world two years ago, has pleaded guilty to U.S. federal charges of writing malicious software in a separate case. “As you may be aware, I’ve pleaded guilty to two charges related to writing malware in the years prior to my career in security,” he wrote in a statement on his MalwareTech website. “I regret these actions and accept full responsibility for my mistakes.” Hutchins faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each charge. He was arrested at the Las Vegas airport in 2017.

A vulnerability in the Qualcomm Secure Execution Environment of the company’s chipsets enables attackers to get private data and encryption keys stored in that area, which is a Trusted Execution Environment, like Intel’s SGX. Qualcomm issued firmware patches for the security flaw. Given that hundreds of millions of Qualcomm chipsets are in Android mobile devices, it may be years before the flaw is fully patched for all users.

An Android application for finding Wi-Fi hotspots exposed the passwords to more than two million networks. The app developer is apparently based in China and couldn’t be reached by TechCrunch, which informed DigitalOcean, the host of the online database, about the situation. DigitalOcean quickly took the database offline.

Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, has an interesting proposal as 5G cellular communications technology rolls out around the world. Governments should be able to examine the systems and source code of technology companies to allay their concerns about the cybersecurity of software, he asserts. “So all the information is in the cloud and 5G is the carrier of this,” Kaspersky says in this interview. Global technology providers should open “transparency centers” to show customers and governments the security attributes of their products and services. Kaspersky Lab has led the way in that concept, opening its first transparency center in Zurich, Switzerland, during 2018, transferring its core processes from its Moscow headquarters. Kaspersky Lab plans to open another facility in Madrid, Spain, and is considering Malaysia and Singapore as the site of a Southeast Asia transparency center.

Proofpoint reports that cyberattackers are less interested in C-level executives and are going after the lower-level staff that does the work at targeted companies. Engineering staffers and employees in research and development are more frequently targeted than workers in other departments, while individual developers and engineers get more attention than executives, the cybersecurity vendor says. Proofpoint’s quarterly analysis of cyberattacks can be downloaded here.

The Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report 2019 notes that there has been a 61% increase in cyberattacks against American and European organizations during the past year. Average losses from those attacks also rose 61%, from $229,000 in 2018 to $369,000 this year, the insurer reports.

Symphony Communication Services reports that many workers are knowingly connecting to unsecure networks and sharing confidential information on collaboration platforms. The company surveyed 1,569 respondents in the U.K. and the U.S. It found that 24% of the respondents are aware of IT security guidelines, but they are ignoring them. Another 27% make those connections to unsecure networks. One-quarter of the respondents are sharing confidential information on Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and other collaboration platforms.

Senior officials in the Trump administration are concerned about possible Russian interference in the 2020 elections, saying those efforts will be more sophisticated than they were during 2016 and 2018. Kirstjen Nielsen, the former secretary of homeland security, was trying to organize cabinet-level meetings on the topic prior to her resignation this month. One top official reportedly doesn’t want to hear about potential Russian interference in next year’s elections – President Donald J. Trump.

Waymo is striking a deal with American Axle & Manufacturing to lease a factory in Detroit and repurpose it for volume production of self-driving cars. CEO John Krafcik says the facility will be operational by mid-2019. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation will provide incentives to Waymo, which plans to create 400 jobs for the production plant. Meanwhile, Waymo has developed a new LiDAR sensor for its autonomous vehicles, along with new camera and radar devices, which are undergoing testing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has long denigrated the use of LiDAR technology in self-driving cars. Andrew Leszewski writes that new technology emerging in vehicle cameras may take the place of LiDAR sensors.

Speaking of Musk and Tesla – analysts and investors spent the day at Tesla headquarters on Monday, where Musk predicted his company would be able to supply driverless “robotaxis” by the end of 2020. “The idea that you can have a vehicle that can make complex decisions for full self-driving is just not plausible at this point,” said Mike Ramsey, a Gartner analyst. The company also revealed its development of a new processor for autonomous driving, fabricated by Samsung Electronics. The Fully Self-Driving chipset is made with a 14-nanometer finFET CMOS process and contains 6 billion transistors. The FSD computer will be in two independent packages, each with their own DRAM, flash memory storage, and power supplies, to provide redundancy in the vehicle’s computing architecture. There are also two neural network accelerators, among other features. Nvidia had a few things to say about the FSD computer. In other news, Tesla sent an investigative team to Shanghai, China, where a Tesla vehicle apparently spontaneously combusted last weekend in a basement parking garage.

Uber Technologies is feeling some pressure in the ride-hailing business from Bolt, a small startup based in Estonia, which has targeted markets that were underserved or unserved by Uber. Originally known as Taxify, Bolt now operates in more than 100 cities and 30 countries around the world. Daimler, Didi Chuxing, and other investors put $175 million into Bolt last year. Bolt, which is raising another round of funding, has applied for a taxi license in London, one of Uber’s biggest markets.

GM Cruise is second only to Waymo in racking up autonomous vehicle testing miles in California, and the General Motors unit is getting ready to offer a commercial service in San Francisco and other cities with its self-driving car technology, this analysis notes.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Lime is adding a new feature to its on-demand electric scooter service – allowing users to book e-scooters 15 minutes in advance. The reservation feature is available in Brisbane, Australia; Lyon, France; and Tel Aviv, Israel.

Pony.ai of Guangzhou, China, launched the PonyPilot project, unveiling driverless cars that can be used within a geofenced area of Guangzhou. The test vehicles are available to the company’s employees and “select affiliates” by invitation only.

Roger Castillo of the Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Group keeps an eye on the Guadalupe River in San Jose, Calif. In addition to the beavers, salmon, trout, and other wildlife creatures that populate the river, he often finds electric scooters that have been dumped in the river, which ultimately empties into the southern San Francisco Bay. Some scooters have been scavenged for parts, while others were tossed whole into the river. Castillo wants the City of San Jose to stop issuing e-scooter permits, and he is raising money for a surveillance system that would monitor the river.

Prosecutors in Japan brought an additional charge against Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman and CEO of Nissan Motor and leader of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, following his fourth arrest earlier this month. On Thursday, Ghosn was granted bail and released on a $4.68 million bond.

Docker and Arm are teaming up to help developers to build cloud, edge, and IoT applications on the Arm architecture. The partnership means that Docker developers can easily become Arm developers, taking advantage of new services like the Amazon Web Services EC2 A1 instances based on AWS Graviton Processors featuring 64-bit Arm Neoverse cores. The Arm developer ecosystem is being offered Docker-based solutions as an extension of the Arm Neoverse platform.

Amit Varde, ClioSoft’s director of applications engineering, writes about running ClioSoft’s SOS7 design management platform on Google Cloud Filestore in this blog post. “We’re always eager to optimize the user’s design environment, so we used Google’s Cloud Filestore, recently made generally available, to replicate a typical IC design environment in the cloud with high performance,” he notes.

Arteris IP reports that Samsung’s System LSI Business renewed multiple Arteris IP FlexNoC Interconnect licenses for use in multiple high-performance digital television processors, utilizing the chip company’s latest process technology nodes. “Over many years, FlexNoC interconnect IP has helped us accelerate implementation of our digital TV chip designs on our latest semiconductor process nodes. This core interconnect technology is required to develop complex and highly optimized chips in a predictable, low-risk fashion,” says Jaeyoul Lee, Vice President, Samsung Electronics.

Mentor, a Siemens Business, announced that several tools in its Calibre nmPlatform and Analog FastSPICE (AFS) Platform have been certified on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s 5-nanometer FinFET process technology. Mentor also announced it has successfully completed reference flow materials in support of TSMC’s System-on-Integrated-Chips (TSMC-SoIC) multichip 3D stacking technology. Siemens announced that PUES Corporation, a Japanese provider of electric vehicle systems, selected Capital electrical design software from Mentor to help speed and simplify the development of next-generation automotive electrical/electronic systems.

Synopsys had a lot of news this week. It said Desay SV of China, a developer of automotive electronics, standardized on its Virtualizer virtual prototyping offering to accelerate software development of next-generation automotive systems. TSMC certified both the Synopsys digital and custom design platforms on TSMC’s latest production-ready Design Rule Manual for its 5nm FinFET process technology. Synopsys Design Compiler Graphical synthesis and IC Compiler II place-and-route tools have been enhanced to enable designers to take full advantage of TSMC’s 5nm FinFET process with extended support for advanced via-pillar implementation, multi-bit flip-flop (MBFF) banking/debanking, and leakage-power optimization. PrimeTime timing analysis was also advanced to support cross-cell placement constraints and timing-driven physically-aware static timing analysis engineering change orders. Synopsys announced that its DesignWare Logic Library, Embedded Memory, Interface and Analog IP on TSMC’s 7-nanometer process technology has achieved more than 250 design wins. Close to 30 semiconductor companies have selected Synopsys’ 7nm DesignWare IP portfolio to deliver their high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip devices for a range of applications including mobile, cloud computing, and automotive. The Synopsys Design Platform is certified for TSMC’s latest System-on-Integrated-Chips (TSMC-SoIC) 3D chip-stacking technology. The platform-wide enablement, combined with a highly flexible reference flow, enables immediate customer deployments for high-performance, high-connectivity, multi-die technology solutions spanning mobile computing, network communication, consumer, and automotive electronics applications. Synopsys was named by Gartner as a Leader in the “Magic Quadrant for Application Security Testing” for the third consecutive year. In the report, Gartner evaluated 11 application security testing vendors based on their completeness of vision and ability to execute. Synopsys was positioned highest for ability to execute and the furthest to the right for completeness of vision.

Silicon Labs unveiled Series 2 of its Wireless Gecko platform, aiming to improve the performance in IoT devices for such applications as gateways, hubs, lights, smart electric meters, and voice assistants. The EFR32MG21 SoCs support multiprotocol, Zigbee, Thread, and Bluetooth mesh networking, while the EFR32BG21 SoCs are dedicated to Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth mesh.

Keysight Technologies reports that AAC Technologies is using Keysight’s 5G Waveform Generation and Analysis Testbed to validate its new 5G millimeter-wave radio-frequency front-end offerings. The testbed leverages Keysight’s metrology-grade signal source and signal analyzers, as well as Keysight’s industry-proven software tools – Signal Studio (a signal creation tool) and 89600 VSA (a demodulation and vector signal analysis tool) – to confidently validate that their new 5G mmWave RFFE offerings comply with the latest 3GPP Release 15 standards.

Mercury Systems of Andover, Mass., acquired The Athena Group of Gainesville, Fla., and Syntonic Microwave of Campbell, Calif., for a total of $40 million in cash. The purchases will increase the company’s radio-frequency and security capabilities, adding to its offerings in core embedded security and electronic warfare.

Ford Motor is investing $500 million in Rivian Automotive, the electric vehicle startup that attracted a $700 million investment from Amazon in February. Ford will work with Rivian on EV technology, an area where it is also collaborating with Volkswagen. The Ford investment in Rivian is subject to regulatory approval. VW plans to invest up to $1.7 billion in Argo AI, Ford’s autonomous tech subsidiary in Pittsburgh.

Uber set the terms of its initial public offering, planning to sell 180 million shares at $44 to $50 per share, which would raise $9 billion at the high end of the pricing range. The initial market capitalization would be about $74 billion to $84 billion, and the valuation may range up to $91 billion. The company plans to trade as UBER on the New York Stock Exchange. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are the lead underwriters. Uber just began its investor roadshow, indicating a May launch for the IPO.

DouYu filed for a $500 million initial public offering. It plans to trade on the NYSE as DOYU, with Morgan Stanley as its lead underwriter. The Chinese company has a live game-streaming platform. It posted a net loss of $127 million on revenue of $531 million for 2018.

San Francisco-based Fastly filed for a $100 million IPO. It plans to trade on the NYSE as FSLY, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch as its lead underwriter. The company provides a content delivery network. It raised about $220 million in private funding from August Capital, Battery Ventures, Deutsche Telekom, and other investors. Fastly posted a $31 million net loss on revenue of $144 million for 2018.

The Microsoft Build developers conference is scheduled for May 6-8 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Build will examine a wide variety of technologies, including artificial intelligence/machine learning, cloud services, containers, DevOps, IoT, mixed reality, and serverless computing.

The 2019 Internet of Things World conference and exposition is being held May 13-16 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley. More than 300 exhibitors and startups will be in the expo hall. Conference speakers include Barbara Humpton, CEO of Siemens USA; Larry De Shon, CEO of Avis Budget Group; and Bask Iyer, chief information officer of VMware and general manager for edge computing and IoT.

The Embedded Systems Conference is coming on May 15-16 at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.


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