Sigfox posts €50 million in revenue, reiterates plans for 60 country connectivity in 2018

Sigfox, the French-based Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity provider, has announced its 2017 results and 2018 roadmap, promising a network of 60 countries and more than a billion people worldwide.

Revenues went up to €50 million (£44.4m), a rise of more than 56% year over year, according to the company, while the total number of objects connected to the Sigfox network rose by 65% to a total of 2.5 million. Alongside this, the company’s network grew to 45 countries earlier this month, including Malaysia, South Korea, and Switzerland.

Looking at the company’s 2018 roadmap, alongside its network figures Sigfox is promising greater focus on its evangelisation strategy. To that end, the provider is launching Hacking House, a project that will ‘bring together students from around the world to learn about IoT and Sigfox’s pioneering technology’, as the company put it.

“There is tremendous value in IoT, which lies in the data that is generated by millions of connected objects across the globe,” said Ludovic Le Moan, co-founder and CEO of Sigfox in a statement. “It’s up to us to turn this golden opportunity into a multi-billion dollar industry, just like we did with petrol a century ago.

“Our challenge for the next few years will be to lower the cost of collecting that data to close to zero,” Le Moan added.

This makes for an interesting comparison when looking at Sigfox’s proclamations in November 2016. The company had just secured a €150m funding round and promised then what it promises today – coverage in 60 countries by 2018.

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FBI posts a warning to parents about IoT gadgets

The FBI has posted a ‘consumer notice’ to consumers with children about the dangers of IoT gadgets.

Anyone who follows the computing industry will be aware of the dangers of insecure IoT devices. Some of the potential threats are external of the home such as devices being hijacked to carry out attacks. Others can be internal and pose a danger to your family’s privacy such as a hacked webcam.

The FBI makes the following recommendations:

  • Research for any known reported security issues online to include, but not limited to:

  • Only connect and use toys in environments with trusted and secured Wi-Fi Internet access

  • Research the toy’s Internet and device connection security measures

    • Use authentication when pairing the device with Bluetooth (via PIN code or password)

    • Use encryption when transmitting data from the toy to the Wi-Fi access point and to the server or cloud

  • Research if your toys can receive firmware and/or software updates and security patches

    • If they can, ensure your toys are running on the most updated versions and any available patches are implemented

  • Research where user data is stored – with the company, third party services, or both – and whether any publicly available reporting exists on their reputation and posture for cyber security

  • Carefully read disclosures and privacy policies (from company and any third parties) and consider the following:

    • If the company is victimized by a cyber-attack and your data may have been exposed, will the company notify you?

    • If vulnerabilities to the toy are discovered, will the company notify you?

    • Where is your data being stored?

    • Who has access to your data?

    • If changes are made to the disclosure and privacy policies, will the company notify you?

    • Is the company contact information openly available in case you have questions or concerns?

  • Closely monitor children’s activity with the toys (such as conversations and voice recordings) through the toy’s partner parent application, if such features are available

  • Ensure the toy is turned off, particularly those with microphones and cameras, when not in use

  • Use strong and unique login passwords when creating user accounts (e.g., lower and upper case letters, numbers, and special characters)

  • Provide only what is minimally required when inputting information for user accounts (e.g., some services offer additional features if birthdays or information on a child’s preferences are provided)

An increasing number of IoT devices with various sensors entering our homes could provide an unprecedented amount of data to a hacker. U.S. security agencies, such as the NSA, have been researching methods of exploiting these devices for their own surveillance operations – which makes the FBI’s decision to post this warning to consumers even more interesting.

There are multiple possibilities as to why the FBI has decided to put out this warning. The first could be the direct threat to children’s safety. Another reason could be restoring some public trust after U.S. security agencies, including the FBI, hoarded exploits which later ended up in the hands of malicious hackers and used for cyber attacks such as the one which crippled the UK’s health service. The agency could also be aware of an increase in threats which are targeting children’s Internet-connected toys in particular.

“Smart toys and entertainment devices for children are increasingly incorporating technologies that learn and tailor their behaviors based on user interactions. These toys typically contain sensors, microphones, cameras, data storage components, and other multimedia capabilities – including speech recognition and GPS options,” the FBI wrote in a post. “These features could put the privacy and safety of children at risk due to the large amount of personal information that may be unwittingly disclosed.”

Many manufacturers of IoT devices are still prioritising features over security in the rush to beat competitors to market. To undercut rivals, some also make use of cheap but insecure components. Devices manufactured in China are often found to be the most vulnerable and the most widely hacked. Last year, for example, a large scale DDoS attack carried out by a botnet of hacked Internet of Things devices which caused large internet websites such as GitHub, Reddit, and Spotify to grind to a halt and was found to consist mostly of products made by Chinese firm Xiongmai.

The biggest known hack which affected children’s toys was that of Hong Kong-based VTech which exposed the data of 6.4 million kids. In this incident, children’s profiles included their name, gender, and birth date were leaked. The United States had the most VTech customers whose data was accessed, followed by France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

In the United States, the FTC updated its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rules on 21st June 2017 to ensure key protections are implemented with respect to Internet-connected toys and associated services. COPPA now includes rules on mobile apps, Internet-enabled location-based services, and VoIP services.

If you suspect your child’s toy has been compromised, file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, at www.IC3.gov.

Are you concerned about the threat IoT gadgets pose to children’s safety? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Electric Imp posts XBee library for ZigBee, local wireless networking fans

Everyone knows that imp modules use WiFi for their Internet connectivity — the imp005 has Ethernet too — but what about local networking? It’s no secret that Electric Imp’s engineers are working up WLAN-level imp-to-imp communication, but if you can’t wait for that — or you just want try out an alternative to WiFi — how about ZigBee?

ZigBee is a mesh networking technology originally developed for home-automation applications, where it’s widely supported. Chip maker Digi International supports ZigBee through its XBee Series 2 raft of radio modules, and now both network tech and hardware type are supported by the imp.

The new XBee library allows any imp to communicate with both directly connected and remote XBee modules using AT mode, which treats the wireless link as an über UART. However, IoT developers will really want to cut straight to XBee’s API mode, which provides a full interface for interacting with local and remote XBees, and provides tools to interoperate with ZigBee devices from other vendors.

Digi’s XBee S2 module with whip antenna

All you need to get started are a couple of XBee Series 2 (S2) modules like the one pictured above. We also recommend board adapters to allow the modules to be slotted into standard solderless breadboards. A USB XBee programmer board is a must-have handy accessory that allows you to apply different XBee firmware packs for each of ZigBee’s three standard device types — Coordinator, Router and End Device — but especially to enable API mode.

The new XBee library shows just how well the Electric Imp Platform is able to support broad technology standards and help customers and developers create great Internet of Things products and projects with a high level of interoperability.

Tony Smith,
Senior Tech Writer,
Electric Imp

Electric Imp Blog