Europe falls behind US in adoption of AI-led security, as half of firms surveyed say IoT is making it harder to stay secure

By Zenobia Hegde

IoT (Internet of Things) strategies are hampering security management, with almost half (47%) of executives in a new survey saying it has become more difficult to stay secure in the last year. This is one of the key findings of the 2017-2018 Global Application and Network Security Report, just released by Radware®, a provider of cyber security and application delivery solutions.

Adding to the problem is the complex issue as to who is responsible for IoT security. When asked who needs to take responsibility, there was no clear consensus among security executives. Responses pinned responsibility on the organisations managing the network through to the manufacturers, but the majority said it was down to consumers using these devices (56%).

Andrew Foxcroft, regional director for Radware UK, Ireland and Nordics, says that its time companies closed the debate and assume responsibility themselves: “Everything that is attached to the network is a threat to security. The longer we debate who is responsible the more advantage we hand to the hackers who will do everything that can to exploit weaknesses.

“Governments of the world are taking more and more interest in IoT and if companies fail to be decisive, take responsibility and collaborate on security, legislation will make the decision for them – look at Germany’s decision to ban smart toys.

Lazy assumption

“It’s lazy to assume consumers will think about security. We already know people find it challenging to keep up with software updates and are unlikely to think through the risks regardless of the terms and conditions they sign up to. The network is only as strong as its weakest link and the sooner companies realise IoT devices are the weakest link, and that the buck will always stop with them, the better.”

The study also found that the percentage of companies reporting financially motivated cyber-attacks has doubled over the past two years, with 50% of surveyed companies experiencing a cyber-attack motivated by ransom in the past year. As the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – often the preferred form of payment among hackers – has appreciated, ransom attacks provide an opportunity for hackers to cash out for lucrative gains months later.

Cryptocurrencies help hackers

“The rapid adoption of cryptocurrencies and their subsequent rise in price has presented hackers with a clear upside that goes beyond cryptocurrencies’ anonymity,” adds Foxcroft. “Paying a hacker in these situations not only incentivises further attacks, but it provides criminals with the vital funds they need to continue their operations.”

Andrew Foxcroft

The number of companies that reported ransom attacks in which hackers use malware to encrypt data, systems, and networks until a ransom is paid – surged in the past year, increasing 40% from the 2016 survey. Companies don’t expect this threat to go away in 2018 either. One in four executives (26%) see ransom as the largest threat to their business sector in the coming year.

“Criminals used various exploits and hacks this year to encrypt vital systems, steal intellectual property, and shut down business operations, all with ransom demands attached to these actions,” Foxcroft said. […]

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Driving the transition to Smart Transport Networks

By Zenobia Hegde

Global surveillance solutions provider Synectics has published a white paper to help transport operators gear up for an increasingly urbanised future. With estimates suggesting that 70% of the world’s population will be living in towns and cities in just three years’ time – the free resource aims to help operators handle and secure ever-increasing urban flows, and implement significant safety improvements, towards the goal of a Smart Transport Network.

The Synectics white paper – entitled ‘Smart Transport Networks: Integration, Interoperability and IoT’ ‒ looks at how evolving surveillance, data management, and edge-device technologies can be used to unify disparate technologies and systems, to create Smart Transport Networks, meet Smart City objectives and deliver connected services to customers.

The paper helps operators make the most of current data, surveillance and safety assets by providing practical advice about integrating both IP and analogue technologies, particularly those responsible for the operation of bus, rail, and light rail transport networks. It also illustrates potential customer improvements by taking the reader on a fully-connected passenger journey, highlighting where converged technology can play an important role such as sending alerts to an individual’s phone if their luggage is unexpectedly moved.

Iain Stringer, divisional director – Mobile Systems at Synectics said: “Transport is perhaps the most critical of all urban services given the imperative need to maintain the flow of people and goods. As our transport systems get busier, technology frameworks that unify systems and technologies are providing live, 360-degree oversight of journeys, as well as a platform to communicate more effectively with passengers and third-party operators.

“Not only can this streamline operations by delivering all relevant information at a glance, such as during an incident, but it can also help operators to reduce costs and more efficiently handle information requests from Police and other authorities.

“This white paper explains the practical steps towards systems convergence for those charged with the management of transport or surveillance data.”

Synectics designs and deploys field-proven systems for both infrastructure (stations, stops, control rooms) and on-vehicle (trams, trains, buses, coaches), making the company one of only a handful of suppliers able to deliver end-to-end, surveillance and security solutions spanning all aspects of transport.

Every year its solutions protect over 1 billion passengers travelling on one of Europe’s busiest metro networks, and over 3 billion worldwide, providing Synectics with a frontline view of changing industry requirements and expectations.

For more information on Synectics’ surveillance solutions for transport operators, please click here.

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Microsemi announces its entire product portfolio is unaffected by Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities

By Zenobia Hegde

Microsemi Corporation, a provider of semiconductor solutions differentiated by power, security, reliability and performance, announced its products, including its field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), are not affected by the recently identified security flaws associated with the use of x86 and ARM®and a number of other processors. The announcement comes as security researchers recently revealed major computer chip vulnerabilities, called Spectre and Meltdown, in chips—affecting billions of devices globally.

“As a leader in security, we strive to ensure our products are immune to both existing and potential new threats or vulnerabilities,” said Jim Aralis, chief technology officer and vice president of advanced development at Microsemi. “As soon as news broke about Meltdown and Spectre, Microsemi immediately assessed its existing products with thorough analysis of the architecture and intellectual property (IP) blocks with its internal security experts. The assessment clearly concluded that none of the processor cores embedded with the associated use models in Microsemi products are impacted by these weaknesses.”

Not only are Microsemi’s FPGAs not affected by Spectre or Meltdown, the company’s devices also offer multiple security layers for maximum protection. In addition to its SmartFusion™ and SmartFusion2 FPGAs, and communications and storage products—which do not have either security flaw—the company’s soft RISC-V core and its RISC-V IP provider are also unaffected by the security issues. As a leader in hardware security, Microsemi is well-known for its cybersecurity and malware expertise, offering customers the highest levels of design and data security.

Both Spectre and Meltdown affect speculative execution in modern computer chips, but they can be abused via various methods. Microsemi offers a heightened level of security in comparison to its competition with these vulnerabilities, as its hard and soft central processing units (CPUs) are not affected by this issue, and in fact enhance security protecting against various side channel attacks.

For more information about Microsemi’s FPGA security capabilities, click here.

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Mobile tariffs are in a continual state of change, as providers reshape and repackage mobile offers, says Strategy Analytics

By Zenobia Hegde

Mobile tariffs are in a continual state of change, as providers reshape and repackage mobile offers. Coupled with the sheer breadth and depth of information that these offers create, service providers, regulators and consumers struggle to compare, rank or benchmark different propositions and average price points.

The Teligen division of Strategy Analytics has been tracking this pricing minefield globally for over twenty years, within its OECD Mobile Voice Price Benchmarking Service. The quarterly-updated Excel-based system incorporates the internationally acknowledged OECD methodology, and is based on the top two providers across 36 countries.

In an extension to this already comprehensive coverage, it has now launched a premium version of the service, which includes additional providers in five European markets; France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, as well as in the US, to cover providers with at least 80% combined market share (typically 4-6 providers per country).

Analysis of the extended coverage within these six markets shows that for a user making 100 calls a month (just over 180 minutes), sending 140 text messages, and using 2GB data can save, on average, over USD PPP 200 a year, depending on choice of provider. The graph below shows how costs in these extended markets compare for this basket.

Source: OECD Mobile Voice Premium Service, November 2017 (custom country & provider selection)

“Italian provider Tre is an example of where major cost savings can be found. It is currently offering an incredibly competitive tariff – ALL-IN Start, which gives users 500 minutes, 500 texts and 5GB of data a month for €5, with a six month promotional offer of 4G LTE speed at no extra cost (thereafter €1 per month). Without the 4G option, this works out at just under USD PPP 80 per year.

This is half the cost of the cheapest offer from WIND, which merged with Tre in 2016, and over 75% cheaper than its closest priced competitor, TIM. Of course, it is important to look at the specifics of each offer and consider it in the context of the specific usage profile, but in any event, this represents a significant cost saving” stated Josie Sephton, director of Strategy Analytics’ Price Benchmarking division, Teligen.

According to Angela Toal, senior tariff analyst with Teligen “while the Italian example is especially dramatic, large differences in costs can be found in other countries. The new Premium service gives access to much more in-depth coverage of providers in selected markets, allowing for a much greater insight into what the key competitors are really up to”

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Bluewave partners with Mimosa Networks to deliver ultrafast wireless broadband

By Zenobia Hegde

Mimosa Networks, the global technology provider in fiber-fast wireless broadband, announced that Bluewave has selected Mimosa as its fixed wireless technology partner. For its new island-wide high-speed broadband deployment, Bluewave is deploying Mimosa fixed wireless solutions to deliver ultra-broadband speeds in the British Territory.

Seeking to revolutionise the local market with a truly convergent network, Bluewave is providing affordable, reliable, high-speed internet, video and voice to its local business and residential subscribers. Bluewave is owned by East End Telecom, Bermuda’s public safety and wireless communication provider.

Bluewave designed the innovative 5G high-speed network using Mimosa’s signature GigaPoP and MicroPoP architectures. The GigaPoPs are network deployments centered around towers and commercial buildings using Mimosa A5c connectorised access pointsto service subscribers over long distances across the 21-mile island. Service offerings range from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps for residential customers and up to 1 Gbps to commercial clients.

In residential neighborhoods, Bluewave deployed Mimosa’s A5 access and C5 client devices in a higher-density MicroPoP architecture, servicing an average of 30 single family homes within a 500m radius from the access point. Bluewave also deployed Mimosa B5 and B11 backhaul radios to connect the network back to a fiber termination point.

In choosing Mimosa, Bluewave was looking for a technology partner that offered scale along with superior speeds and reliability. For residential deployments, aesthetics was also of utmost importance. “Setting up a MicroPoP with the Mimosa wireless solution does not involve the digging, trenching or overhead cables associated with wired access technologies, and the A5 access point and C5 client devices are compact and designed to fit discretely under the roofline of a house,” said Bluewave chief executive officer, Nick Faries.

Bluewave hopes that their efforts in Bermuda will serve as a model for other island countries struggling with similar connectivity challenges. “We are excited to partner with Mimosa,” said Faries. “Bluewave intends to change the internet game by providing fiber-like speeds over the air, and delivering resilient high-speed corporate internet.”

“We are excited to be partnering with the visionary management team at Bluewave,” said John Colvin, SVP of Global Field Operations at Mimosa. “By entering the high-speed broadband sector, Bluewave will bring system reliability and value for money that will benefit Bermudian residents and businesses alike.” Colvin continued, “Mimosa’s fiber-fast wireless portfolio will help Bluewave accelerate their time to market and time to service while providing the ultimate broadband experience to their subscribers.”

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