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Found: New Android malware with never-before-seen spying capabilities

By Dan Goodin

Enlarge (credit: portal gda)

Last year, researchers found what at the time was quite possibly the world’s most sophisticated espionage app ever written for the Android mobile operating system. Now, in a discovery that underscores the growing arms race among competing malware developers, researchers have uncovered a new Android spying platform that includes location-based audio recording and other features that have never been seen in the wild before.

According to a report published Tuesday by antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab, “Skygofree” is most likely an offensive security product sold by an Italy-based IT company that markets various surveillance wares. With 48 different commands in its latest version, the malware has undergone continuous development since its creation in late 2014. It relies on five separate exploits to gain privileged root access that allows it to bypass key Android security measures. Skygofree is capable of taking pictures, capturing video, and seizing call records, text messages, gelocation data, calendar events, and business-related information stored in device memory.

Skygofree also includes the ability to automatically record conversations and noise when an infected device enters a location specified by the person operating the malware. Another never-before-seen feature is the ability to steal WhatsApp messages by abusing the Android Accessibility Service that’s designed to help users who have disabilities or who may temporarily be unable to fully interact with a device. A third new feature: the ability to connect infected devices to Wi-Fi networks controlled by attackers.

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Data, dashboards and decisions

By IoT Now Magazine

Cloudleaf enterprise solutions orchestrate the flow of assets across the three dimensions of data, dashboards and decisions, writes Nitesh Arora, the head of marketing at the company

Cloudleaf IoT solutions are predicated on the most robust, secure and interoperable technologies available today. However, our story doesn’t end there. Although we’re undeniably a tech company, our solutions approach is decidedly non-technical; we view technology as the means not the end. In fact, we can extend this idea by saying that, for us, the success of an IoT implementation is measured, not by the number of sensors or cloud analytics apps, but by the degree to which it provides sustainable and measurable value to society, the environment and on the bottom line. By adopting a Three Ds solutions approach, we’re able offer rich live data, accessible from intuitive mobile dashboards from which operations managers can quickly make critical resourcing and prioritisation decisions.

Now that we’ve got that straight, let’s come back down to earth and talk nuts and bolts in terms that both engineers and everyday folk can understand. If you read our other article on page 16 of this issue, you’ll get a good idea of how the Cloudleaf Sensor Network helps those running industrial operations derive maximum business value in the areas of:

Asset utilisation – Serialised management, location tracking and monitoring, utilisation, inventory control and dwell-time management
Factory operations – Product quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC), audit and regulatory compliance, safety and loss management, work node control and work in progress (WIP)
Complex assemblies – Multi site/party workflows, supplier conformance, on-time delivery and penalty mitigation
Condition monitoring – Predictive/prescriptive management, environmental monitoring and fault management

So let’s get further down into the weeds and talk about our tech.

The Cloudleaf family of products is made up from a collection of end-to-end hardware, connectivity, cloud services and apps that solve distributed manufacturing challenges and harmonise workflow relationships between people, systems and things. Our endpoint sensors, zone sensors and gateways form an intelligent-mesh that orchestrates the flow of realtime asset data, elegantly bridging the operation technology (OT) domain processes with back-office information technology (IT) business systems. We call this the CloudLeaf Sensor Fabric. Let’s take a closer look at the components:

Cloudleaf Sensor Fabric The Cloudleaf Sensor Fabric is composed of patented, easyto-deploy, purpose-built and location aware sensors and gateways, to enable smarter operations, with indoor, outdoor and in-transit coverage.

Cloudleaf Sensors – Long-range sensors that securely collect and share asset location and condition data over our patented Bluetooth Smart technology.

Each Cloudleaf-enabled asset in the Sensor Fabric generates a unique digital fingerprint with location and contextual metadata (such as temperature, shock, vibration and more). More assets-sensors results in the more accurate data and better intelligence. There is virtually no limit to the number, class, location or mobility of assets that can join the fabric. Moving containers of raw materials, lab samples, sub-assemblies, components, finished products, high-value handheld tools and fixed industrial robots are all excellent candidate asset types. And given a two-to-five year battery life, long-range Bluetooth connectivity and sensor provisioning from the […]

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ZTE and velcom jointly announce Belarus’ first NB-IoT commercial deployment

By Zenobia Hegde

ZTE Corporation, a major international provider of telecommunications, enterprise and consumer technology solutions for the Mobile Internet, and velcom, a branch of A1 Telekom Austria Group, jointly announced the deployment of the first scaled commercial Narrowband IoT(NB-IoT) network in Belarus.

The network was deployed in Minsk city first and then in other regions accordingly as scheduled. So far, velcom has verified smart metering and smart city solutions in the network.

The cooperation of NB-IoT between velcom and ZTE has started since the end of last year. In April’s Tibo exhibition, the end-to-end gas metering service demo has been successfully demonstrated. Following that, more lab tests and field tests were carried out.

velcom has highly appreciated ZTE’s commitment in this market. “We are very excited that, with ZTE, we have provided abundant services to our customers. Within the project, we installed equipment that will allow us to implement NB-IoT technology. This is an incredible breakthrough in the field of telecommunications, and we are happy to complete it together. We are sincerely glad to have such a partnership and looking forward to further cooperation.” said Mr. Christian Laque, CTO of velcom.

Mr. Pu Yingchun, vice president of ZTE and general manager of FDD Products, said: “ZTE is very proud to work with velcom to release the first NB-IoT commercial deployment overseas. The achievement signifies ZTE’s capabilities of providing operators with the smooth evolution solution towards 5G.”

velcom is one of the leading mobile operators in Belarus dedicated to providing customers with the cutting-edge communication services. It started its 3G network rollouts in March 2010. In February 2016, velcom was the first to launch UMTS-900 throughout the whole country, bringing dramatic coverage extension and high mobile data quality.

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Orange Belgium’s new IoT network claims 100% coverage to support massive Internet of Things solutions

By Zenobia Hegde

The possibilities offered by the Internet of Things (IoT) are growing strongly in Belgium and throughout the world. Orange Belgium decided last year to invest in new IoT technologies based on international standards, and has now announced the availability of Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE-M technologies, so called “Mobile IoT”, across the whole Belgian territory, reaching nationwide coverage both indoors and outdoors.

The NB-IoT and LTE-M technologies are Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) cellular network layers that will allow millions of everyday objects to be connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). LPWA technologies offer many advantages when connecting objects to the Internet of Things, such as extending the battery life of the connected equipment by up to 10 years thanks to low energy consumption, or drastically reducing the cost of the radio modules inside the devices that need to be connected. Smart furniture, smart parking and asset tracking for instance become possible.

Orange turns Belgium into a mobile IoT test lab

The Mobile IoT technologies bring a different approach to LPWA technologies. Apart from extended battery life and the minimal cost of radio modules, NB-IoT and LTE-M is also said to enable:

Full bidirectional communication between the object and the network allowing firmware software updates over the air;

The best possible mobile coverage (up to +20dB compared to 2G/4G coverage), considerably improving signal penetration inside buildings;
Guaranteed connectivity abroad (roaming) on other operators’ mobile IoT networks;
And the safest solution for IoT connectivity as it operates in licensed spectrum. Moreover, says Orange, the SIM card offers secure connections thanks to LTE networks’ unique capabilities in terms of authenticating and encrypting the data in transit.

Gabriel Flichy, chief technology officer of Orange Belgium, explains: “The choice for Mobile IoT technologies is future-proof as it is fully consistent with the future evolution towards 5G. It will then be possible to connect objects that require very high reliability e.g. for the remote control of critical devices and automation processes.”

“Today we are already using our Mobile IoT network together with the Flemish government for a project with connected bikes in collaboration with our partners Huawei and Sensinxs; IMEC is testing a smart plug project as part of Antwerp’s City of Things program and we have teamed up with CommuniThings for smart parking solutions. We invite all application developers, system integrators and early adopters to test the advantages of Orange Mobile IoT network.”

Overall Mobile IoT will act as the catalyst for companies to establish connections that would not have been viable with existing technologies. Consumers will see a huge variety of new products, services and applications enabled by Mobile IoT.

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TM Forum launches Open API lab to foster innovation

By Zenobia Hegde

TM Forum, the industry association driving digital transformation through collaboration, announced the launch of an online Open API lab “platform” that will accelerate innovation for service providers and suppliers. The lab provides an environment where users can learn, innovate and develop applications and new digital services. The platform, developed with IBM and Neural Technologies, is hosted on IBM Cloud.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the need for experimentation in the R&D process has never been greater. The Open API lab platform will accelerate innovation and support experimentation and prototyping of new services that are underpinned by TM Forum’s Open APIs. By leveraging IBM Cloud, open source capabilities, and Neural Technologies’ Optimus platform, the Open API lab will enable faster deployment of TM Forum’s Open APIs, as well as providing access to many open source technologies, such as Node.js, OAuth2 and Connect ID.

The lab will also have capabilities to build and check the application of Open APIs in TM Forum’s proof-of-concept Catalyst projects, through which TM Forum is driving the industry’s cultural and digital transformation.

The Open APIs are designed to be used as a suite of APIs to maximise their benefits. Lab users will have access to an Open API component framework developed by TM Forum members which will demonstrate how the APIs can be used as a suite to manage end to end services as part of a flow of capabilities.

Steve Canepa

“The TM Forum Open API lab is the next step in our support for designers, architects and developers to accelerate innovation. The Forum Open APIs enable organisations to reap the rewards of operational agility and business model innovation as it provides a great environment for experimentation and prototype development,” said Joann O’Brien, vice president APIs & Ecosystems at TM Forum.

TM Forum’s Open APIs have been proven to reduce operational expenditure through increased reuse, creating a more agile business where innovation can thrive. Service providers have also advocated the use of Open APIs to reduce integration in the context of mergers and acquisitions.

“As communication service providers look to digitally reinvent their businesses and to support rapidly increasing network demands, APIs and microservices are combining with cloud as the platform for digital innovation,” said Steve Canepa, managing director, Global Telecommunications, Media & Entertainment Industry, IBM. “The IBM Cloud, secure to the core and built to enable agile enterprises, allows CSPs to have access to a rich set of platform services and AI that can be combined with the TMForum Open APIs to speed the development of new digital services and the modernisation of existing applications.

Nik Willetts

Kai Sui, CEO of Neural Technologies, commented: “We believe that the TM Forum Open API Lab initiative will play a key part in digital transformation strategies, and that the Optimus Platform from Neural Technologies will drive enterprises into achieving complete digitisation of their business.”

“TM Forum members are on a journey of digital transformation, and we support them by providing the tools and services that they need to culturally and technically transform their business in order […]

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TOPHOTELPROJECTS: Marriott Uses IoT to Create Hotel Room of the Future

By IoT – Internet of Things

In what may be a glimpse of what all hotels will look like in the very near future, Marriott International has recently teamed with a pair of companies – Samsung and Legrand – in order to launch the global hospitality industry’s first Internet of Things (or IoT) hotel room. Dubbed the IoT Guestroom Lab, which […]

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PTC unveils Reality Lab to advance adoption of and exploration of new applications for augmented reality

By Zenobia Hegde

PTC announced the unveiling of Reality Lab, a test center led by researchers who will create applications that leverage augmented, virtual, mixed, and physical realities with the purpose of improving people’s interactions with their physical environments.

The lab will apply human-centered design and human-computer interaction to new technology, empowering people with more intuitive and practical computer user interfaces for managing the next generation of networked computer systems.

An early believer in the potential of AR for industrial use cases, PTC acquired the industry’s most advanced and widely adopted Vuforia® AR technology platform for custom development in 2015. Since then, PTC has leveraged Vuforia to expand the capabilities of its market-leading ThingWorx® Industrial Innovation Platform.

Building on its proven history in helping customers optimise their product design, manufacturing, and service initiatives, PTC is helping to bring the power of AR technology to these traditional business activities with the ability to visualise, instruct, guide, and improve interactions with physical things.

PTC Reality Lab for the new HQ in Boston

PTC’s Reality Lab will be overseen by MIT graduates Valentin Heun and Benjamin Reynolds, who will serve as the lab’s chief scientists. While at the MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group, the pair co-founded Reality Editor, an augmented reality platform that allows users to link smart objects by simply drawing a line between them on the screen of a smart phone.

“PTC is known worldwide for its technological excellence – and a prowess for pushing the frontiers of technology to make the industrial world more efficient,” said Valentin Heun, vice president of technology, Office of the CTO, PTC. “We’re delighted to become members of the team.”

Reality Lab is located in PTC’s current headquarters in Needham, Mass. and will be a central feature at its new Boston-based headquarters expected to open in 2019.

“AR connects the wealth of digital data generated by the IoT and digital transformation initiatives with the physical world in which we apply it,” said Jim Heppelmann, president and CEO, PTC. “Our new Reality Lab will enable enterprises to advance the way they serve customers, train employees, design and create products, manage their value chains, and how they compete.”

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Huawei and University of Edinburgh to research potential of AI robotics systems operating over 5G networks

By Zenobia Hegde

At the 2017 Global Mobile Broadband Forum, Huawei and the University of Edinburgh signed a research cooperation to investigate the potential for AI robotics systems to operate over next generation 5G wireless networks.

Researchers at Huawei’s Wireless X Labs and University of Edinburgh’s new Bayes Centre will investigate together how AI systems can inform and adapt wireless 5G networks to provide optimum wireless support to meet the needs of connected robotics and systems. Areas of initial focus include healthcare robotics and mobile video.

The project will build on the University of Edinburgh’s existing research into AI and autonomous systems to provide new insights into how these systems will use AI to collaborate with mobile broadband networks. This can enhance the performance of both networks and applications to enable greater levels of interaction between people and systems. This new research project extends the existing relationship between Huawei and the University of Edinburgh following the announcement in June of a joint lab hosted at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics.

This new research cooperation was signed by Peter Zhou, Chief Marketing Officer, Huawei Wireless Solution, and Professor Charlie Jeffery, Senior Vice Principal, University of Edinburgh.

This new research cooperation was signed by Peter Zhou, chief marketing officer, Huawei Wireless Solution, and professor Charlie Jeffery, senior vice principal, University of Edinburgh. Also in attendance were professor Jon Oberlander, assistant principal data technology, who has joined the Advisory Committee of Huawei’s Wireless X Labs, and Mr. David Richardson, director of Partnerships for the Bayes Centre.

Professor Charlie Jeffery said, “We are thrilled to have deepened our relationship with Huawei to researching 5G within AI applications. Our ambition is to utilise the knowledge of our world-leading experts to fully understand the interaction of AI and robotics systems with mobile networks. This new research agreement gives our team the opportunity to apply their 5G networking expertise into solving real-world problems – helping to transform industries including healthcare and emergency services.”

Peter Zhou at Huawei said: “We are delighted to continue working with the world-leading team at the University of Edinburgh to help understand how improvements within mobile broadband can foster innovation within wireless robotics systems. AI is a key feature of 5G networking, and we are excited to deepen our understanding of how the interaction between applications and networks can create new benefits and enhancements.”

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Glasswing Ventures announces Connect Council

By Byron Reese

When I first heard about the Connect Council, I was intrigued. I knew Rudina Seseri and Glasswing Ventures, and knew they didn’t have a reputation for doing things half way. When I heard about the mission of the Connect Council and the people involved, I was more than intrigued, I was impressed. What follows is a quick Q&A with Rudina about the council.

What is the Connect Council?

It is the first of three advisory councils to support and extend Glasswing Ventures’ investment strategy. Collectively, these councils bring together 40 renowned entrepreneurs and technologists, AI visionaries, and world-leading executives to exclusively advise and support the firm and its portfolio companies. The Connect Council is a critical part of the Glasswing Ventures’ DNA, extending our strength in providing AI expertise and advice exponentially amplifying the firm’s and our portfolio companies’ competitive edge. The Connect Council is comprised of two working groups: the AI & Academic Group, and the Business Leadership Group. Today, we are announcing the AI & Academic Group.

Who is on it?

A group of extraordinary individuals who have been lending their support to us since the founding of Glasswing over 18 months ago – we are grateful to them and very happy to announce that the members of the Glasswing’s Connect Council – the AI & Academic Group include:

  • Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor at MIT and Oxford University and winner of the ACM A.M. Turing Prize
  • Dr. Brad Berens, Chief ‫Strategy Officer at the Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg and Principal at Big Digital Idea Consulting
  • Dr. Cynthia Breazeal, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, Founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc.
  • Dr. Thomas R. Eisenmann, Howard H. Stevenson Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, Faculty Co-Chair of the HBS Rock Center for Entrepreneurship
  • Dr. Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland, MIT Professor and Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program Director
  • Dr. Manuela Veloso, Herbert A. Simon University Professor and Head of Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University
  • Dr. Peter Weinstock, Executive Director and Anesthesia Endowed Chair of the Boston Children’s Hospital Simulator Program and Associate Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School

Why did you start it?

We started the Councils as we know that they can bring tremendous scale to the firm as we help harness the positive potential of AI across industries and markets. Because the Connect Council is a collaborative and vibrant body composed of the most influential thought leaders and innovators in academia and AI technology today — our team, our founders and portfolio companies, gain access to a brilliant collective of luminaries at the forefront of AI and innovation, who are committed to fueling its success and growth. These visionaries have extensive experience across AI, academia, startups and Fortune 500 companies. They are the catalysts in extending our reach, supporting our portfolio companies and advising us, and helping Glasswing become a cornerstone of the AI ecosystem. They also play a pivotal role in helping bring AI to its full potential in the broader ecosystem and society at large.

What do you hope to accomplish with it?

Our council members are a resource for candid views and discussions about new technology trends, opportunities and talent in AI – they aren’t just big names and faces on a website. We won’t agree all of the time — and that’s exactly what we hope for. In fact, it’s beautiful when we brainstorm together, as that is when the best outcomes emerge. Our portfolio startups, and many more in the ecosystem, will be able to benefit first-hand from these brainstorms and the brilliance and experience of our advisors.

We have a symbiotic relationship with our advisory council members. They enhance the value we add to founders and companies, well beyond smart capital. At the same time, through their affiliation with Glasswing, they are part of a platform that is developing and shaping the next generation of AI leaders and technology companies. It is because of this mutually beneficial dynamic that our advisors work with us on an exclusive basis.

How will you know if it is working? Any metrics you are tracking?

Our Connect Council members are catalysts in extending our reach, supporting our portfolio companies and advising us, and helping Glasswing become a cornerstone of the AI ecosystem. They also play a pivotal role in helping bring AI to its full potential in the broader ecosystem and society at large. Being as exclusive and engaged as they are, their inbounds — whether it is bringing in a unique deal flow or helping with diligence or key talent are part of the tremendous value they bring to us.

Is AI really as big as the hype suggests?

Artificial Intelligence has been at the forefront of tech innovation for some time, but 2017 has been the year in which it has truly taken center stage. In a world of pervasive connectivity, AI is essential to harnessing the power of data. Companies have to create an AI advantage to survive — Google, Facebook, Amazon and countless startups know this and are betting their businesses on it – in fact, startups are becoming major value creators.

AI is already changing many aspects of our daily lives both at home and at work. However, this is just the start. AI is steadily and pervasively redefining our relationship with technology, enhancing human capacity and, fundamentally, how we live. It is big – and it’s going to be bigger than we imagined it.


Rudina Seseri is founder and managing partner at Glasswing Ventures. With over 15 years of investing and transactional experience, Rudina has led technology investments and acquisitions in startup companies in the fields of robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), SaaS marketing technologies and digital media. Rudina’s portfolio investments include Talla, Celtra, CrowdTwist, Jibo and SocialFlow. Rudina has been appointed by the Dean of the Harvard Business School (HBS) for a fourth consecutive year to serve as Entrepreneur-In-Residence for the Business School and as Executive-In-Residence for Harvard University’s innovation-Lab. She is also a Member of the Business Leadership Council of Wellesley College. Rudina also serves as Advisor for L’Oreal USA Women in Digital, as Director on the Board of the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX) and on the Board of Overseers for Boston Children’s Hospital. She has been named a 2017 Boston Business Journal Power 50: Newsmaker, a 2014 Women to Watch honoree by Mass High Tech and a 2011 Boston Business Journal 40-under-40 honoree for her professional accomplishments and community involvement. She graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Economics and International Relations and with an MBA from the Harvard Business School (HBS). She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Epsilon honor societies.

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Internet of Things for the Home

By Cablefax Guest Columnist

chris bastian internet of things

By Chris Bastian

Senior Vice President, Engineering/CTO

SCTE-ISBE

The growing network of sensors and data analytics that is called the “Internet of Things” is widely recognized as one of the major technology trends of this decade. A Gartner report estimates that there will be more than 20 billion IoT sensors by 2020. At the recent SCTE-ISBE Cable Tec Expo® 2017, in Denver, nine papers addressed various aspects of IoT services, including deployment and operations.

IoT papers can be downloaded here.

With the Internet of Things opening up entirely new service opportunities that can differentiate multiple system operators (MSOs) from their competition, the challenge will be to smoothly install, operate, and integrate these new services with the operator’s existing service bundle. Wireline operators have a well-established presence in the home including cable modems, home gateways, set-top boxes, Wi-Fi extenders, and home security hubs; however, the evolution to new services—such as connected healthcare, and smart homes—will require increased care to ensure the highest network performance while preventing security breaches.

As operators are lab testing and field trialing emerging home-based IoT services, the march to operationalizing must include:

  • Standardizing interfaces
    • Standards shorten the time to market for innovative services and products and expedite their adoption and The Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) has been a driving force in standardizing IoT interfaces; however, many other organizations occupy the IoT standards space.
  • Training the workforce to install and operate a network of home-based IoT sensors
    • Current competencies for MSO technicians include installing and maintaining DOCSIS® gateways and Wi-Fi access points. Additional education will be necessary to support a multitude of IoT sensors, each with its own connectivity requirements.
  • Developing a data analytics department to be able to trend and optimize IoT service performance
    • The field of data analytics is exploding, and not just around the Internet of Things. Service providers are hiring data scientists who collect service metrics, identify which metrics correlate to improved service performance, and create actionable network operations reports, all to ensure the highest quality of customer experience.
  • Honing a security level of assurance that ensures bad actors are not breaching these new services
    • Developing IoT security practices must be top of mind, as many low-power/small-memory IoT devices, with their diminished security profile, will be tempting targets for exploitation. It is also important to consider that the sensor itself may not be the target of the exploit but a convenient jumping-off point to attack something else.

The emerging IoT opportunity is to provide service for multiple home service verticals. Comcast and Cox currently offer home security services, and Altice recently announced plans to use Nest smart home products, such as thermostats, smoke detectors, and cameras, in conjunction with its existing service bundle. IoT sensors will provide connectivity for every conceivable object in the home, from appliances to clothing to even disposables like food and paper. When you think about all of the innovation happening in the IoT space, it promises to be a very rewarding opportunity. With IoT sensors embedded in so many devices, ideas for service development abound.

If you want to be involved in the development of IoT standards and operational practices, check out the ANSI-accredited SCTE-ISBE Standards Program and its IoT Working Group.

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