Week in Review: IoT, Security, Auto

Data breach & cybersecurity updates; mobility report; CrowdStrike IPO; M&A


Mentor, a Siemens Business, announced the release of the final phase of the Valor software New Product Introduction design-for-manufacturing technology, automating printed circuit board design reviews. The company has integrated DFM technology into the Xpedition software layout application.

Arteris IP reports that Toshiba has taped out its next-generation advanced driver-assistance system chip using the Arteris IP Ncore Cache Coherent, FlexNoC non-coherent interconnect, and the associated Resilience Package.

Walmart is initiating InHome Delivery for grocery orders, which will be available during the fall for customers in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, and Vero Beach, Fla. The delivery person will enter a customer’s home using smart entry technology. The customer will be able to remotely supervise the delivery via a video feed. The retailer plans to expand the service to other markets.

Internet of Things
Helium Systems launched its wireless network, based upon its LongFi technology, which is touted for having a wider range than Wi-Fi connectivity and less expensive than cellular communications modems. The technology is said to have multiple applications in the Internet of Things, such as tracking down stolen scooters and dog collars, and for collecting data from infrastructure sensors. The startup has raised $53.8 million in private funding from GV, Khosla Ventures, Marc Benioff, and other investors.

Uber Technologies will test autonomous quadcopters in San Diego this summer for making deliveries, under a trial program authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration. Nine other U.S. cities will serve as drone delivery testing sites. Uber claims its drones can make deliveries in about 7 minutes, compared with an average of 21 minutes using ground transportation. The San Diego project is being overseen by Uber Elevate, the company’s aerial research and development arm.

Akamai Technologies brought out the IoT Edge Connect service, which will take advantage of the company’s existing network of 250,000 servers in 4,000 locations, found within 140 countries, for IoT applications. Craig Adams, Akamai’s senior vice president and general manager, Web performance and security, said: “Akamai is investing to extend its network capabilities with the goal of meeting the unique needs of the growing IoT device and application messaging markets. Delivering massive amounts of data across the globe securely is in Akamai’s DNA. We are focused on developing technology designed to scale, simplify, and secure the way IoT and application data is delivered to endpoints.”

Quadcopter drones may take on delivery tasks in the near future. How will those unmanned aerial vehicles avoid other things that will come at them with high velocity? Artificial intelligence, of course. Researchers at the University of Maryland and ETH Zurich came up with navigation stacks called Embodied AI to elude fast-moving things. The co-authors of the resulting paper, which has been submitted for publication, write, “To our knowledge, this is the first deep learning-based solution to the problem of dynamic obstacle avoidance using event cameras on a quadrotor.”

Sierra Wireless connected its new Octave edge data orchestration offering with Microsoft Azure IoT Central. Sierra Wireless plans to migrate its existing cloud infrastructure from Amazon Web Services to the Azure cloud services.

Keysight Technologies selected a panel of judges for the company’s IoT Innovation Challenge, a design contest for graduate and undergraduate engineering students. Six individuals or teams will demonstrate their designs on September 21 at the World Maker Faire in New York City.

The Customs and Border Protection agency had a data breach involving thousands of images of license plates and travelers, taken at a U.S. port of entry over a six-week period. The breach occurred when a federal government subcontractor transferred copies of the images to its own network, which was hacked. The agency says this transfer happened without the knowledge of CBP and violated the contract involved. No more than 100,000 drivers at the port of entry had their information compromised in the hack, according to a U.S. government official.

Gartner estimates worldwide cybersecurity expenditures will increase 8.7% this year to $124 billion. For all that money, data breaches continue to happen, this analysis notes. As a result, “zero-trust” has become the cybersecurity buzzword of the year. The zero-trust concept treats network insiders and outsiders with equal scrutiny.

This week in Huawei – John Suffolk, the global cybersecurity and privacy officer of Huawei Technologies, testified before the House of Commons this week, attempting to reassure members of Parliament that Huawei is a technology company independent of the Chinese government. The United Kingdom is considering whether to use Huawei’s equipment for its 5G wireless networks. The Trump administration is trying to convince allies that Huawei and other Chinese vendors present a risk to national security. Meanwhile, Beijing has been summoning representatives of foreign companies, such as Dell Technologies, Microsoft, and Samsung Electronics, to warn them that they could face dire consequences in China if they observe the U.S. government’s blacklisting of Chinese tech companies, The New York Times reports, citing people familiar with the meetings this month. Huawei, for its part, has reportedly accused Verizon Communications of infringing hundreds of Huawei’s patents and may demand licensing fees totaling more than $1 billion. The Office of Management and Budget is seeking a two-year delay in implementing a provision within the National Defense Authorization Act that bars government agencies from contracting with Huawei or with companies that use its networking and telecommunications equipment. “This is about ensuring that companies who do business with the U.S. government or receive federal grants and loans have time to extricate themselves from doing business with Huawei and other Chinese tech companies” that are covered by the NDAA, said Jacob Wood, a spokesman for the budget office. Finally, The Financial Times reports that Google is seeking an exemption from the U.S. Huawei trade ban, arguing that an Android-based operating system developed by Huawei would pose a significant security threat. “Our focus is protecting the security of Google users on the millions of existing Huawei handsets in the U.S. and around the world,” Google said in a statement.

Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sent a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr, asking what the Department of Justice is doing about safekeeping their investigative tools. Wyden is seeking information on what the FBI and other department agencies are doing to protect their cyber arsenals, in light of the theft of cyberweapons from the National Security Agency, which is part of the Department of Defense.

The Department of Homeland Security doesn’t have a comprehensive view of network security within state and local governments, according to Rick Driggers, the deputy assistant director for cybersecurity at the federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency. “We’ve seen in the last couple years more focused attention from nation-state adversaries, particularly with ransomware to attack or cause disruption at the state and local level,” he said at a conference in Washington, D.C. “At the end of the day, the state and local governments provide a lot of very valuable critical services to their populations. Those services going down causes a lot of disruption.”

The SecurityScorecard firm ranks the education sector last out of 17 U.S. industries when it comes to cybersecurity issues. It cited application security, network security, and patching cadence as issues where educational institutions need to step up their efforts.

In an unprecedented move, the National Security Agency issued an advisory to all users of Microsoft Windows to implement software patches and to update their software to prevent disruption by the BlueKeep cyberthreat. Not patching and updating Windows-based systems could have “devastating” effects, the NSA says. Microsoft is offering patches for a critical flaw in Windows 2007, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP, and 2003 versions of the operating system.

Ransomware attacks are wreaking havoc in Baltimore and other American communities, this analysis notes. “Ransomware is pandemic in the United States,” says Joel DeCapua, supervisory special agent in the FBI’s cyber division.

The Pew Research Center reports that 83% of Americans expect public infrastructure will be damaged by a future cyberattack. That level of pessimism is worldwide. “A short while ago, gates, guards, and guns were all that was needed to protect our energy, transportation, and water infrastructure from threats. Even as interconnectivity flourished in our personal and professional lives, the industrial control systems underlying our critical infrastructure existed largely isolated from the Internet. The perimeter was physical,” this opinion piece states. “Not anymore. A wave of digital transformation is sweeping across the industrial world, pitting demands for greater efficiency and reliability against security. The information and communication technologies that power business and commerce are converging with the operational technologies that control our critical infrastructure — and with little consideration for the risk.”

Carbon Black issued a report on the state of cybersecurity in health care. In a survey of 20 chief information security officers working in health care, the firm found 45% of respondents experienced an attack with a primary focus of data destruction in the past year. Ransomware often is combined with data destruction attacks. Of the CISOs surveyed, 83% cited an increase in the number of cyberattacks in the past year, while 66% said cyberattacks have increased in sophistication.

Cognitive bias and reasoning errors are common among many people, including cybersecurity professionals, according to Dr. Margaret Cunningham, a psychologist and Forcepoint’s principal research scientist. “In cybersecurity, understanding and overcoming security-related perceptual and decision-making biases is critical, as biases impact resource allocation and threat analysis,” Dr. Cunningham noted. “Building awareness of cognitive biases can help us move beyond biased decision making, and more importantly, help us avoid designing systems that perpetuate our own biases in technology.”

Nokia opened a 5G security testing and verification laboratory, while launching a program to look at 5G wide-area network security requirements. The company is also opening the Future X Security Lab as an extension of its Future X network lab within Nokia Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee approved The Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019 on a voice vote Wednesday, advancing the bipartisan bill toward a vote on the House floor.

Tesla buyers lately are complaining about defects and damage to their newly delivered vehicles, originating at the factory or during transportation to distribution sites. More critically, the electric vehicle startup is hearing dissent from industry analysts and significant investors, this analysis notes. The company’s annual meeting this week heard an upbeat presentation from founder and CEO Elon Musk, which reinvigorated the faith of some individual investors. While those investors still believe in the company’s future, T. Rowe Price sold 80% of its Tesla stock in the first quarter of this year.

The June 2019 edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report is out. Ericsson predicts that 5G subscriptions will reach 1.9 billion by the end of 2024. It also forecasts that 35% of traffic will be carried by 5G networks and up to 65% of the world’s population will be covered by 5G cellular communications technology. Automotive fits in the report’s “Critical IoT” applications for 5G New Radio networks, among other cellular IoT use case segments. The report can be downloaded here.

What’s become of the Renault Nissan Alliance? It seems to be on shaky ground, at least from a senior management perspective. There are rumors that the proposed merger of Renault with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t completely dead. Meanwhile, Nissan Motor had proposed a measure to its shareholders overhauling corporate governance in the wake of former chairman Carlos Ghosn being charged in Japan with financial misconduct. The measure requires approval of two-thirds of Nissan’s shareholders. Renault, which owns 43.4% of Nissan, has indicated it will abstain from voting on the measure, meaning it can’t go forward for now. “Nissan finds Renault’s new stance on this matter most regrettable, as such a stance runs counter to the company’s efforts to improve its corporate governance,” Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa said in a statement. Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is attempting a rapprochement with Nissan management, saying, “The good news is that nothing is irreparable.” Meanwhile, Renault and Nissan inaugurated a joint innovation laboratory in Tel Aviv, Israel, aiming at technical collaboration with Israeli startups. The new lab will focus on sensors for autonomous driving, cybersecurity, and big data analytics.

Hyundai Motor is investing in Aurora Innovation, more than a year since the Korean car company started collaborating with the American startup. The move comes as Volkswagen has just ended its work with Aurora, while Fiat Chrysler is now working with Aurora on developing commercial driverless vehicles. VW is now looking to integrate its internal technology for autonomous vehicles with that of Argo AI, the Ford Motor unit. FCA has partnered with other companies on self-driving car tech, providing Pacifica hybrid minivans for Waymo to outfit with its autonomous driving tech.

Monet Technologies, the joint venture between SoftBank Corp. and Toyota Motor developing an on-demand self-driving service platform, will begin operations next year in Southeast Asia, CEO Junichi Miyakawa told Reuters. The JV will export a basic version of the system, he added.

General Motors President Mark Reuss said GM will invest about $150 million for its assembly plant in Flint, Mich., increasing production of heavy-duty pickup trucks by another 40,000 vehicles per year. The automotive manufacturer is adding 1,000 jobs in Flint.

The Uber Advanced Technologies Group, which received $1 billion in private funding during April, this week showed off its production XC90 self-driving car, which will be assembled by Volvo Cars. While the XC90 will have a steering wheel and a brake pedal for humans to use, it will also contain factory-installed steering and braking systems that are computer-controlled.

Zoox CEO Aicha Evans touts her startup’s competencies in self-driving car technology: artificial intelligence, fully autonomous driving, and a battery-powered electric frame designed for AI. “The new era of mobility requires a radically different approach, not an incremental approach — one that was optimized for human drivers,” she says.

Bird confirmed its acquisition of Scoot Networks, without disclosing the financial terms. The Wall Street Journal puts the purchase price at about $25 million. According to PitchBook, Scoot had raised around $47 million in venture capital since its founding in 2011 and was most recently valued at $71.5 million. The e-scooter consolidation begins…

Big billion-dollar deals proliferated this week. United Technologies agreed to acquire Raytheon in a stock-swap transaction creating a military/aerospace giant with annual sales of about $74 billion. UTX will first complete the planned spinouts of its Carrier air conditioner and Otis elevator businesses before closing the merger. Raytheon designs and develops semiconductors, specializing in sensors and imaging applications. UTX owned Mostek from 1979 to 1985, selling the memory chip maker to Thomson SA, which became part of STMicroelectronics. Salesforce.com agreed to acquire Tableau Software for $15.7 billion in stock. Tableau offers data analytics. Dassault Systemes agreed to acquire Medidata Solutions, a provider of cloud-based software for clinical trials, for $5.8 billion in cash. Intel agreed to acquire Barefoot Networks, a developer of programmable networking chips; the transaction is expected to close in the third quarter. Financial terms weren’t disclosed; Barefoot had raised $155.4 million in private funding from Alibaba Group, Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz, Goldman Sachs, Dell Technologies Capital, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Tencent Holdings.

CrowdStrike Holdings completed its initial public offering, selling 18 million shares at $34 a share and raising $612 million. The cybersecurity firm’s stock trades on the Nasdaq as CRWD. The stock closed at $58 a share on its first day of trading, up $24 and 70.6% for the day. CrowdStrike’s market capitalization topped $11.4 billion, close to the market cap of Symantec, a leading cybersecurity stock until recently. CEO George Kurtz compared his company to Salesforce.com and ServiceNow.

Cambium Networks of Rolling Meadows, Ill., set its IPO terms with 5.8 million shares at $13-$15 per share. The company plans to trade on the Nasdaq as CMBM. J. P. Morgan is the lead underwriter.

Brazil-based Linx, which provides business management software-as-a-service to Latin America retailers, set its IPO terms with 29.3 million shares at $8.68 per share. It plans to trade as LINX on the New York Stock Exchange. Goldman Sachs is the lead underwriter.

Synopsys reports achieving ISO 9001 certification for its IP Quality Management System. The certification for ISO 9001:2015 came from the British Standards Institute.

AT&T SHAPE is next weekend, June 22-23, at the Warner Bros. Studio in Los Angeles. Fifth-generation cellular communications, aka 5G, will be among the topics discussed at the conference.


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