Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

AT&T’s NB-IoT network; Huawei news; AVs in Pittsburgh.


Internet of Things
AT&T reports the activation of its narrowband Internet of Things network in the U.S. The carrier upgraded its 4G LTE cell sites across the country. It now offers two low-power wide-area networks to business customers, including its LTE-M network in Mexico and the U.S. “Both networks are designed for the IoT within licensed spectrum and provide carrier-grade security,” Chris Penrose, president of IoT Solutions at AT&T Business, wrote in a blog post. “Having both networks offers our business customers more options to implement IoT solutions with security, interoperability, and lower costs.”

There is hope that donated organs will reach their recipients faster through the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. The University of Maryland developed a drone that delivered a kidney to its medical center, covering three miles in a test flight. A team of medical experts led by Dr. Joseph R. Scalea, worked with aviation and engineering colleagues at the university, along with the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland, which oversees organ donations.

ZTE signed an agreement with Malaysia’s Plantation PLS to work together on smart agriculture technology, incorporating big data, cloud computing, electronic tagging, and the IoT.

This week in Huawei – Vodafone said there were security flaws in the software of Huawei equipment supplied to the telecom’s Italian business in 2011 and 2012. The Chinese company acknowledged the problem, and both companies state the issue was quickly resolved. Huawei denied a Bloomberg report that there were hidden “backdoors” in Huawei’s software at that time. Meanwhile, BT Group recently committed to joint 5G research with Huawei. The companies will work together at the BT Labs facility in Ipswich, England, and other sites around the United Kingdom. The 5G research aspects include network architecture, network slicing, and machine-to-machine communications for IoT applications. In other news, Prime Minister Theresa May dismissed Gavin Williamson, her defense secretary, from her cabinet, accusing him of leaking information about discussions in the U.K.’s National Security Council, a charge that Williamson denied. Lastly, Li Yuan writes about how the organizational structure and corporate practices of Huawei Technologies closely mirrors that of another organization – the Communist Party of China.

The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Security Subcommittee held a hearing Tuesday on strengthening IoT cybersecurity. Although there was a consensus on establishing a federal IoT security standard based on the work by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, there were disagreements on how the government should go about informing consumers about secure IoT devices.

The 2019 Trustwave Global Security Report is out, noting positive and negative developments in cybersecurity. Data points taken from the report: Cryptojacking is not dead; all Web applications are vulnerable; social engineering is the top method of compromise; cybercriminals look for payment card data; hiding malware is becoming more common; and defenders are getting better. The report can be downloaded here.

More than 2 million IoT devices use iLnkP2P, a vulnerable peer-to-peer firmware component that could compromise the security of baby monitors, DVRs, IP cameras, smart doorbells, and other products, security researcher Paul Marrapese warns. Attempts to reach the component’s maker, Shenzhen Yunni Technology, have not succeeded.

A spearphishing email may have compromised the election system in one Florida county during the 2016 presidential election, apparently enabling Russian hackers to rummage through the system. How extensive the rummaging was and whether it affected the outcome of votes in that unidentified county are in question. Governor Ron DeSantis will soon be meeting with the FBI to discuss the episode. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, says there was an intrusion that was detected through an intelligence operation, not a criminal investigation.

AppRiver reports that in a survey of executives at small to medium-size businesses, 55% of the respondents said they would pay a ransom to hackers to retrieve their stolen data. Among professionals at larger SMBs, 74% said they “definitely would pay ransom at almost any price” to get their data back or prevent it from being stolen.

To test or not to test? That’s an appropriate question when it comes to the security of industrial control systems, this analysis notes. IBM Security employs an autonomous team of veteran hackers, known as X-Force Red, to conduct penetration testing of industrial control systems. “When we test legacy ICS environments, we discover many severe vulnerabilities, some of which may have been exposing the system to potential attacks for years and could be easily exploited by an attacker,” IBM’s Simone Riccetti writes.

AT&T Cybersecurity has a survey report available, “Confidence: The perception and reality of cybersecurity threats.” More than 700 attendees at the recent RSA Conference were surveyed. Phishing was cited by 29% of respondents as a leading cyberthreat to all companies, while cloud security threats were noted by 27%.

Yet another report: Vectra released its 2019 Spotlight Report on Healthcare, which can be downloaded here. The report notes that many unsecured legacy systems still exist, while downtime for patching is a challenge for environments that run 24/7, health-care networks have a 3:1 ratio of devices to people, and any device with an IP address can connect to the network. Artificial intelligence and machine learning technology could help detect hidden threat behaviors in an organization before a cybercriminal takes advantage of the weakness, Vectra suggests.

Symantec security researchers say there is a new form of cryptomining malware that makes use of National Security Agency hacking code, and it’s rapidly spreading across Asia. The cybersecurity company refers to the malware as “Beapy,” saying the majority of infections are found in China, along with other Asian nations and the U.S.

Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, signed into law a measure that gives his government more control over the Internet, which is widely expected to lead to Russia’s censorship of certain Internet content. If an external cyberattack would attempt to isolate Russia from the worldwide Internet, presumably from the U.S., the Rozkomnadzor agency would be allowed to seize control of the Internet within Russia and filter all Internet traffic. The government would also target Telegram, a messaging application that is very popular among Russians.

President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order calling for improvements for cybersecurity staffing in the federal government. The order would allow cybersecurity staff to rotate among agencies and departments, to spread their expertise and to learn new skills.

There are 55 vehicles in Pittsburgh testing autonomous driving technology. They belong to Aptiv, Argo AI, Aurora Innovation, Carnegie Mellon University, and Uber Technologies. Mayor William Peduto earlier this year signed an executive order mandating regular reports to the city’s new Department of Mobility and Infrastructure. Those driverless cars are being tested in 32 neighborhoods and suburbs; most of them are considered to have Level 4 autonomy.

Toyota AI Ventures is launching another $100 million investment fund and is looking for early-stage ventures developing disruptive technologies in the areas of autonomous driving and robotics. The Toyota Motor subsidiary has already invested in 19 startups during the last two years, from an earlier $100 million fund.

Velodyne Lidar and Nikon agreed to work together on developing lower-cost LiDAR sensors. Sendai Nikon, a Nikon subsidiary, plans to manufacture LiDAR sensors for Velodyne, beginning volume production during the second half of this year. Nikon will produce Velodyne laser rangefinder systems for use in driverless cars, robotics, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other products.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti isn’t waiting for “Green New Deal” legislation to emerge from a divided Congress, which is an unlikely prospect. He is touting a sustainability plan that calls for 80% of vehicles in LA to run on electricity or zero-emission fuels by the middle of the 2030s. It also foresees 80% of the electrical power coming from renewable energy sources and Angelenos driving 2,000 fewer miles per year than current usage.

Intel recently laid off “several dozen” employees working in the chip company’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center in Palo Alto, The Information says. The employees, who were working on autonomous vehicle technology, are being encouraged to seek jobs elsewhere at the chipmaker. The layoff doesn’t represent a setback for Intel’s automated driving efforts, The Information reports. Intel confirmed that its Mobileye subsidiary in Israel acquired Palo Alto-based Eonite Perception, a developer of LiDAR sensors for 3D mapping and tracking, in late 2018. Mobileye has reportedly doubled its workforce to about 1,200 people since it was acquired by Intel in 2017 for $15.3 billion.

Tesla is making more news than Huawei Technologies! Well, maybe not, but there’s a lot of data emerging from Fremont and Palo Alto. The electric vehicle manufacturer will raise about $2 billion in capital through selling 2.72 million shares of stock and $1.35 billion in convertible debt securities. Meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk reached an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission about his company-related tweets. Musk will be required to have “any experienced securities lawyer” review what he wants to write about Tesla on Twitter. Not many people would easily associate Tesla with the rooftop solar power business, but it did get into that market with the 2016 acquisition of SolarCity, which was founded by two of Musk’s cousins. Tesla now is reducing pricing on solar panels and related equipment to juice up that business, while shifting all sales to online transactions.

Ford Motor says it is making the Amazon Key in-car delivery service available for Ford and Lincoln connected vehicles from the 2017 model year and later. Linking to Amazon Key will be enabled through the FordPass Connect and Lincoln Connect connected-car cloud-based services. Eligible car owners will need to download the FordPass or LincolnWay applications, create an account, and activate their vehicles for in-car delivery. An Amazon Prime account is also necessary.

The Automotive Grade Linux open-source project of the Linux Foundation attracted CloudBees, Crave.io, FPT Software, and GitHub as new members.

Arteris IP announces that VeriSilicon licensed the Arteris FlexNoC interconnect IP as the on-chip communications backbone for use in multiple microchips developed by the VeriSilicon team.

Another busy week for Synopsys – the Synopsys Cybersecurity Research Center produced the 2019 Open Source Security and Risk Analysis Report, based upon the results of more than 1,200 audits of commercial applications and libraries performed by the Black Duck Audit Services team. Synopsys announced its DesignWare Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) Display Stream Compression Encoder and Decoder IP for visually lossless compression across display interfaces targeting mobile, augmented/virtual reality, and automotive system-on-a-chip devices. PLASMOfab, a research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation program, has been successfully completed to enable mass manufacturing of high-performance plasmo-photonic components. The company also announced the availability of verification IP for Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM-P) for DDR5/4. Finally, Arm and Synopsys have expanded their collaboration to deliver QuickStart Implementation Kits (QIKs) supporting Synopsys’ Fusion Compiler solution, a fully-integrated RTL-to-GDSII implementation system.

Cepton Technologies of San Jose, Calif., introduced the SORA-P60L scanning LiDAR sensor for unmanned aerial vehicles. The LiDAR startup opened an office at the iHub park in Derby, United Kingdom.

Keysight Technologies collaborated with Calterah, an automotive millimeter-wave radar chipset design house in China, to support the design, verification, test, and launch of a new generation of automotive millimeter-wave radar chipsets that will drive development of the connected-car supply chain.

Kryon Systems, a vendor of robotic process automation software, brought out version 19.1 of Kryon Process Discovery. The tool uses patented AI technology to automatically identify work processes, visually map the main path and variants of any given process, evaluate their suitability for automation, and generate workflows instantly.

Market Research
Arm Treasure Data and Forbes magazine surveyed 200 marketing leaders on their customer personalization efforts. Some key takeaways from the survey results: Loyalty programs, mobile applications, and product development are the channels that matter most; enterprises are in the early stages of exploring artificial intelligence (AI) to achieve customer personalization; and retailers lead in personalization efforts. Their report can be downloaded here.

Francisco Partners, a private equity firm, invested in Minneapolis-based Perforce Software, a provider of configuration management software for technology developers. The firm will become equal partners with affiliates of Clearlake Capital Group, which invested in late 2017 in Perforce. Financial terms weren’t revealed.

KKR’s Internet Brands agreed to sell Autodata Solutions Group to Thoma Bravo, a private equity firm. Financial terms weren’t revealed, although the purchase price is about $1 billion, Bloomberg reports, citing a person familiar with the matter. Founded in 1990, Autodata provides software, technology, and market services to the automotive industry from its headquarters in London, Ontario, Canada.

Jaguar Land Rover is reportedly considering a takeover offer for Addison Lee, a British minicab manufacturer, which is owned by The Carlyle Group. The purchase price may range between £300 million and £500 million (about $391 million to more than $651 million).

Pluralsight agreed to acquire Durango, Colo.-based GitPrime, which provides a productivity tool for software developers, for $170 million in cash. GitPrime had raised $12.5 million in private funding from OpenView Venture Partners, Data Collective, and other investors. The transaction is expected to close this month.

Accenture is purchasing Munich-based Zielpuls, a technology consultancy. Founded in 2008, Zielpuls employs 190 professionals at offices in Germany and China.

Ready for the Uber IPO? Ready or not, it’s coming this month – the offering will happen next week, on May 10 at the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s investor roadshow moved from London to New York this week. The IPO is reportedly oversubscribed, with more demand than supply for UBER shares. The company is touting its food delivery business, emphasizing that it has more than ride hailing and ride sharing on its plate.

NIWeek 2019 takes place May 20-23 at the convention center in Austin, Texas. It is the 25th annual staging of the event, which draws thousands of attendees from around the world. National Instruments executives and NI partners will make presentations.

Mocana is partnering with Real-Time Innovations for a way to scale protected communication systems for the Industrial IoT. RTI Connext DDS is a software framework for sharing information in real time. It is based upon the Object Management Group Data Distribution Service standard. RTI Connext DDS is being integrated with Mocana TrustPoint and TrustCenter.

Anki, a San Francisco startup that developed AI-imbued robotics toys, closed its doors this week and laid off its 200-plus employees, giving each of them one week of severance pay. The company received nearly $200 million in private funding from Index Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, J.P. Morgan, Andreessen Horowitz, and other investors. The end came when Anki’s management was apparently unable to raise a new round of financing. RIP.


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