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Week in Review – IoT, Security, Autos

Cadence teams with Adesto on IoT; Synopsys PrimeECO; UPS drones; FireEye for sale.

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Products/Services
Cadence Design Systems is working with Adesto Technologies to grow the Expanded Serial Peripheral Interface (xSPI) communication protocol ecosystem, for use in Internet of Things devices. The Cadence Memory Model for xSPI allows customers to ensure optimal use of the octal NOR flash with the host processor in an xSPI system, including support for Adesto’s EcoXiP octal xSPI non-volatile memory. Adesto is also collaborating with Microsoft regarding IoT applications; the company joined Microsoft Azure Certified for IoT, enabling customers to get offerings based upon SmartServer IoT up and running with hardware and software that has been pre-tested and verified to work with Microsoft Azure IoT services. Adesto will demonstrate SmartServer IoT with Azure Cloud at the Microsoft IoT in Action event in Santa Clara, Calif., on Thursday, October 10.

Synopsys uncorked its PrimeECO design closure offering, providing signoff closure with zero iterations. Signoff closure has emerged as one of the top challenges in digital design implementation, consuming up to 50% of the design schedule, mainly driven by rapidly increasing signoff scenarios and physical complexity at advanced nodes, the electronic design automation company says. Meanwhile, Synopsys reports completing its acquisition of Germany’s QTronic, a supplier of simulation, test tools, and services for automotive software and systems development.

Microchip Technology introduced the Trust Platform for its CryptoAuthentication line. This pre-provisioned offering provides secure key storage for low-, mid- and high-volume device deployments using the ATECC608A secure element.

Internet of Things
The Federal Aviation Administration authorized UPS to operate a commercial drone fleet for package deliveries. The UPS drones are certified for flight, yet the FAA must still approve individual flight paths and use cases. The delivery drones are allowed to fly beyond a pilot’s visual line of sight. The UPS unmanned aerial vehicles are cleared to operate at night and to carry cargo weighing more than 55 pounds.

AT&T is testing drones in New Jersey for cell tower inspections. If the carrier’s artificial intelligence systems detect that a cell site isn’t functioning properly, the AI system can shift communications and data traffic to another tower.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, came up with a method of swapping replacement batteries for small drones in mid-air, eliminating the need to ground a UAV for battery replacement. Cal’s High Performance Robotics Lab developed flying replacement batteries that can make in-flight connections with larger drones.

Military drones are taking off around the world, this analysis notes. From cheap, off-the-shelf quadcopters to enormous, missile-toting aircraft, flying drones are not only proliferating widely, but they’re becoming integrated increasingly deeply into militaries, according to a new report from Dan Gettinger, co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. Chinese drones are flying over the South and East China seas, Russian drones are over Ukraine, and Iranian drones allegedly operate in Yemen and Syria.

The Anova Precision Oven will become available next year. The product not only has smart features – it can cook with convection, steam, or both modes. Anova plans to unveil the oven at CES 2020.

Cybersecurity
Comodo, a cybersecurity firm, acknowledged this week that its online forum was hacked. The hacker exploited a vulnerability in vBulletin, a popular forum software used by Comodo. Software patches were released last month when the flaw came to light; Comodo apparently failed to implement the patches in time.

Zendesk, a service software vendor, disclosed that it had a security breach. “While our investigation is still ongoing, on September 24, 2019, we determined that information belonging to a small percentage of customers was accessed prior to November of 2016,” the company wrote in a blog post.

We now pause to note that October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. Too snarky? That’s fair. President George W. Bush first proclaimed NCSAM in 2004. NCSAM is a collaborative effort between the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Symantec offers a webinar around this year’s NCSAM theme, “Own IT, Secure IT, Protect IT.”

This week in Huawei – President Trump used the occasion of a visit by Sauli Niinisto, President of Finland, to rail against Huawei Technologies and to praise Nokia. “The United States and Finland are…partnering to ensure the security of 5G networks,” Trump said, adding that “it is critical that we use safe and trustworthy technology providers, components and supply chains” in 5G. The Trump administration has aggressively moved against allowing the embattled Chinese company to supply network systems for 5G cellular communications in the U.S.

The Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that some medical devices may contain potentially serious cybersecurity flaws. Devices using the IPnet software are in danger of being hacked, the FDA says.

The Wood Ranch Medical practice of Simi Valley, Calif., will shutter its operations in December, unable to recover from a ransomware attack in August. All patient data was encrypted, including the backup hard drives. The damage to the computer system was severe enough that data recovery was not an option. Earlier this year, the Brookside ENT and Hearing Center in Battle Creek, Mich., closed at the end of April, after hackers deleted all patient files during a ransomware attack. The two doctors who owned the practice decided to retire rather than rebuild the patient files.

The National Security Agency on Tuesday activated its new Cybersecurity Directorate, which combines the agency’s cyberdefense and foreign intelligence missions. The directorate will focus on protecting the American industrial base serving the nation’s defense, and on weapon security.

Despite pledging last year to share more data about how disinformation infiltrates Facebook, the social media network has apparently disappointed security researchers willing to help the company prepare for what is coming ahead of the 2020 elections. The Knight Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation threatened to stop their funding of the project. Meanwhile, the Insikt Group worked with Recorded Future to examine how disinformation campaigns apparently emanating from Russia are operating. The results are available in this report.

Elite hackers collaborated in August to probe voting equipment across the U.S. Each of the 100-plus voting machines had vulnerabilities to a variety of cyberattacks, they found. Their report is available here.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission, says the FCC should be doing more about cybersecurity. Securing communications devices needs to go beyond banning Huawei Technologies products in the U.S., she asserts. “[T]he situation with this company is just a symptom of a larger problem—and all of our activity so far is about treating the symptom, not the disease,” she said in a speech at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. “The disease is that there is not a broader market for secure 5G wireless equipment. If we want to make sure that no one company can undermine our national security, it’s time for the United States to develop policies that help spur its creation.”

Check Point Software Technologies reports that sophisticated cyberattacks against Egyptian activists and others are coming from government offices in Cairo. The central server used in the attacks is registered to the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the cybersecurity firm says. The Check Point report can be found here.

Following its $1.4 billion acquisition of Cylance, BlackBerry is establishing a cybersecurity research and development business unit. The new BlackBerry Advanced Technology Labs has a team of 120 architects, researchers, security experts, and software developers. BlackBerry Labs is drawing on AI, machine learning, and IoT technology.

More than 500 U.S. schools experienced ransomware infections during the first six months of 2019, according to Armor, a cybersecurity firm. There were 54 colleges, school districts, and other educational organizations affected. During the first weeks of the current school year, 15 school districts were hit with ransomware attacks, affecting 100-plus K-12 schools. Armor says five of those 15 incidents involved the Ryuk ransomware strain.

In early 2019, Democrats and Republicans in Congress, along with the White House, agreed that a national privacy policy should be a priority. What happened? Nothing. The Federal Trade Commission, which regulates online privacy, is pushing for federal legislation which would be similar to California’s privacy law that goes into effect in 2020. Still, government officials and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., have been unable to advance such legislation.

Automotive/Mobility
Ford Motor is putting most of its operations in India into a joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra, which will own 51% of the JV, valued at $275 million. Ford has assembly plants near Chennai and in Sanand. If regulatory approval is obtained, the joint venture might begin operation in mid-2020.

Cities in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world are leading efforts to encourage use of electric vehicles, this analysis notes. Big corporations, such as Amazon and FedEx, are pushing forward with electrified delivery vehicles, establishing cleaner and greener fleets of vehicles.

Taiwan-based Gogoro, a developer of EVs, last week introduced the Viva lightweight scooter, capable of running for 85 kilometers (nearly 53 miles) with its swappable battery. The scooter will become available this month, offering an environmentally-friendly alternative to 50cc and 100cc gas-powered scooters. Consumers in Taiwan will get the first shot at the e-scooter, followed by international markets.

Morgan Stanley now estimates the value of Alphabet’s Waymo self-driving car unit at $105 billion, down from a $175 billion valuation calculated a year ago. Autonomous driving technology is taking longer than expected to come together, hence the markdown in Waymo’s value.

Tesla delivered 97,000 cars during the third quarter, a record for the company, yet short of CEO Elon Musk’s goal of 100,000 deliveries in one quarter. Wall Street was disappointed with the shortfall. Analysts had estimated the EV manufacturer would come through with 97,477 vehicles, according to IBES data from Refinitiv. In other news, Tesla acquired DeepScale, an AV computer vision startup in Mountain View, Calif. According to Crunchbase, DeepScale raised $18.5 million from 25 investors, including Autotech Ventures, Next47 (the Siemens venture capital fund), and Point72 Ventures.

Rivian Automotive may market its EVs through a subscription program, rather than selling the vehicles, according to founder and CEO RJ Scaringe. Its R1T pickup truck and R1S SUV are aimed at the high-end leisure market. The startup also has an order from Amazon to make 100,000 delivery vehicles, which are likely to be vans. Another EV startup, Canoo, will offer its vehicles through subscriptions.

While Uber Technologies had a disappointing initial public offering this year, the company still may have a bright future with all of the ways it can expand from its ride-hailing platform, this analysis notes. Thuan Pham, Uber’s chief technology officer, is optimistic about the company’s prospects, saying it may succeed in its field, much like Amazon Web Services came to dominate the cloud-based computing market.

Car2go, the car-sharing service, gave notice that it will no longer offer its Smart cars after October 31 in Austin, Calgary, Denver, and Portland. The service in Chicago will be shuttered after December 31. The Daimler-owned service this year partnered with BMW’s DriveNow car-sharing service to establish Share Now, a new entity.

M&A
Splunk completed its acquisition of SignalFx, paying about $1.05 billion in cash and stock. SignalFx offers software-as-a-service for real-time monitoring and metrics for cloud infrastructure, microservices, and applications.

Oracle agreed to acquire CrowdTwist, which tracks cloud-native customer loyalty. When the proposed transaction is completed, CrowdTwist will become part of the Oracle Customer Experience Cloud organization.

Ciena entered into a definitive agreement to purchase privately-held Centina, which provides service assurance analytics and network performance management offerings. The deal is expected to close by the end of 2019, at which time Centina will be integrated into Blue Planet, a division of Ciena.

Ericsson completed its acquisition of Kathrein’s antenna and filter division, expanding the Ericsson Radio System product portfolio.

AMETEK agreed to acquire Gatan, a unit of Roper Technologies, for $925 million in cash. Gatan is a manufacturer of instrumentation and software used to enhance and extend the operation and performance of electron microscopes. The proposed transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Autokiniton Global Group completed its $900 million acquisition of Tower International, which makes automotive structural metal components and assemblies. Autokiniton is a portfolio company of KPS Capital Partners.

Trimble will buy Azteca Systems of Sandy, Utah, which provides enterprise asset management software for utilities and local governments. The acquisition is expected to close in this quarter.

France’s Framatome acquired FoxGuard Solutions of Christiansburg, Va. FoxGuard specializes in cybersecurity and industrial computing.

Atos completed its acquisition of IDnomic, a European cybersecurity firm specializing in digital identity management and public key infrastructure offerings. IDnomic is a software-as-a-service company.

Finance
FireEye of Milpitas, Calif., hired Goldman Sachs to explore a possible sale of the cybersecurity company, Business Insider reports, citing three sources familiar with the discussions. FEYE shares rose on the news, giving FireEye a market capitalization of almost $3 billion. FireEye declined to comment on the report.

Cerence completed its tax-free spinoff from Nuance Communications this week. The independent company is publicly held. The automotive software spinoff has about 1,300 employees, including some 700 in R&D, 450 in professional services, and around 100 in sales and marketing. Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives initiated coverage of the CRNC stock with an “outperform” rating.

Toyota Motor will increase its equity stake in Subaru from about 17% to 20%, the automakers announced. The move is meant to improve their respective positions in developing new vehicle technologies.


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