The Week in Internet News: Can Blockchain Improve IoT?

Blockchain merges with IoT? Could Blockchain technology help the Internet of Things become more resilient? IBM thinks so. The company is exploring ways to use Blockchain to build trust between devices and to accelerate transactions on the IoT. EETimes explores the issue.

Grand Theft IoT: Someone involved in the online community for the video game, “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” has spun up a new botnet made up of IoT devices, according to security firm Radware. For the price of $ 20, the botnet can supposedly launch a 300gbps Distributed Denial of Service attack, reports Motherboard.

AI on the rise: Nearly after of all CIOs have plans to implement artificial intelligence in the future, according to a recent Gartner survey. The IT research firm recommends that companies rolling out AI projects aim low to start, and focus augmenting workers instead of replacing them, according to a story on TechRepublic.

Where the jobs are: For a time, it appeared that actual deployments of Blockchain seemed to be lagging behind the buzz. But that appears to be changing, with Blockchain developers now in high demand, TechCrunch reports. Blockchain jobs are the second fastest growing category in the labor market, with 14 job openings for every Blockchain developer.

Data breach exposure expands: The data breach at Equifax, the U.S. credit reporting agency, may have exposed more personal information than originally suspected when the company reported the compromise late last year, according to several news reports, including one from CNN. Equifax originally said names, date of birth, Social Security numbers and home addresses were exposed in the breach, which affects about 145.5 million people. But tax IDs and driver’s license details may also be included, according to the new reports.

Bitcoin miner interference: In what may be this week’s weirdest Internet news, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission found that a Brooklyn Bitcoin mining operation interfered with T-Mobile’s LTE network. The Bitcoin miners were emitting “spurious” radio emissions and could be subject to fines, Reuters reported.

Remembering John Perry Barlow: We were saddened to hear of the death of John Perry Barlow, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Grateful Dead lyricist, on Feb. 7 at age 70. Barlow, one of the earliest voices in the cyberlibertarian movement, authored “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace,” published in 1996. Less famous but perhaps just as useful was Barlow’s “25 Principles of Adult Behavior.” Among them: “Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.” And, “Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.”

Explore the Internet Society Global Internet Report: Paths to Our Digital Future to learn more about how the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence might shape tomorrow’s Internet.

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Internet Society

Busy Week for MANRS, Routing Security, and More at APRICOT 2018

APRICOT 2018 is underway in in Kathmandu, Nepal, and as usual the Internet Society is an active participant in many areas of Asia Pacific’s largest international Internet conference. The workshops are taking place this week, with the conference happening next week. Here are some of the conference activities where we’ll be.

Routing Security BoF

On Sunday, 25 February, from 18:00 to 19:00 (UTC +05:45), Aftab Siddiqui and Andrei Robachevsky will moderate a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session on routing security. From the abstract, the session will provide a space where “…operators can share their approach in securing their own infrastructure and keeping the internet routing table clean as well. Also, this will provide a platform to review and highlight various BCOP documents to address routing security.” The Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security (MANRS) initiative is a key piece of the routing security puzzle.

Tech Girls Social

On Monday, 26 February, from 13:00 to 14:00 (UTC +05:45), Salam Yamout will be speaking at the Tech Girls Social. This session provides a space for APRICOT participants to talk and network in an open, friendly environment. The event is open to ANYONE who is interested and is not restricted to women. It is an opportunity to get to know other participants outside technical- or work-focused discussions.

Cross-region Resource Management

Also on Monday, 26 February, from 14:30 to 16:00 (UTC +05:45), Aftab will join be a panelist in the “Cross-region Resource Management” session. This session will address resource custodianship and panelists will debate the issues and best practices that can help provide solutions, including BGPSec, RPKI, MANRS, and more.

Routing Security in 2017: We can do better!

On Tuesday, 27 February, from 09:30 to 11:00 (UTC +05:45), Andrei will present during the Security 1 session on “Routing Security in 2017: We can do better!” From the session abstract: In 2017, not a single day passed without an incident. While none of the incidents was catastrophic, all of them continue to demonstrate the lack of routing controls like those called for in MANRS that could have prevented them from happening.”


Later on Tuesday, 27 February, from 18:00 to 19:00 (UTC +05:45), The Internet Society Nepal Chapter is hosting an ISOC@APRICOT meeting where members, chapter leaders and community members will discuss ISOC’s 2018 work objectives and broader Internet related issues.

Other Meetings and Topics

APRICOT is a unique gathering place for organizations from across Asia Pacific to meet and discuss current activities, best practices, and needs. We’ll be participating in a series of side meetings related to ISP Associations, IXPs, and policy-related events such as the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC).

APRICOT is also full of workshops and sessions on IPv6, DNSSEC, the Internet of Things, Internet Governance, and more topics of interest, so we encourage you to check out the full agenda.

Watch Live, or Come Join Us

Most of the sessions will be broadcast live (on YouTube and Adobe Connect). Information will be updated on the APRICOT Webcast page as it is available.

As you can tell, there’s a lot going on over the next two weeks in Nepal. If you’ll be there, please come look for us to say hello or let us know what’s on your mind. You can also follow along via social media with #APRICOT2018.

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Internet Society

IoT news of the week for Feb. 16, 2018

Google is buying Xively for $ 50M: Google, which has apparently seen that it needs to step up its IoT cloud game, said it will purchase the Xively IoT platform from LogMeIn for $ 50 million. Xively is a fine IoT platform that always seemed like a strange addendum to LogMeIn. Before LogMeIn bought it, it was known as Pachube, and was the creation of Usman Haque, a forward thinking individual when it came to sensor data monitoring. Xively was a platform-as -a-service offering that managed much of the difficult cloud connections for devices. Combined with hardware kits, the idea was that a developer could get from idea to a working device quickly without having to understand how to connect things and manage them in the cloud. (Google)

Particle brings mesh networking to IoT devices: Most of my IoT projects these days are DIY, or do-it-yourself, efforts. So it’s exciting to see Particle (formerly known as Spark) bring new wireless technology to its small compute boards. Ranging in price from $ 9 to $ 29, the new third-gen Particle boards merge traditional connections—think LTE, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth—with mesh technology so each of the sensor boards can transmit to each other, helping with overall connectivity and data transfer. In other words, not all of your IoT devices need their own internet connection, which can reduce device costs. With Particle’s mesh technology and Thread network support, a non-internet-connected sensor could still transmit its data over the web by using other Particle products on the mesh network, since each is a gateway. Check this video for the full story. (Particle)

Intel-powered drones win Olympic Gold: If you missed the 2018 Winter Olympic opening ceremonies, you missed quite a show. And yet the best performers weren’t even people, but the 1,218 drones with their amazingly choreographed light show, which dazzled. Wired explains how they did it using Intel’s Shooting Star drones. (Wired)

Wearable tech is also on tap for the Winter Olympics: Drones aren’t the only IoT-related things at this year’s Winter Games. Smart clothes and other wearable technology are part of the events, ranging from self-heating jackets with connected apps to speed skating suits that send real-time training data to coaches and skaters. Those sound a little more useful to me than the Halo headsets being used by the U.S. Ski Team: Halo sends energy pulses to a skier’s brain to “prime” their performance. I’ll stick with the warm jacket, thank you. (Gadgets and Wearables)

Another co-founder flies from the Nest: Google’s re-absorption of Nest from Alphabet won’t just impact development teams and supply chain management. The last remaining co-founder of Nest, Matt Rogers, is leaving the team as well. This week, Rogers told CNET that he’ll help the hardware team plan its 2019 roadmap and assist with the re-integration of Nest’s team into Google. After that, though, he’s walking out the door and essentially out of smart home hardware creation. Instead, Rogers plans to focus on, a venture firm and labs group he co-founded with Swati Mylavarapu. It’s hard to believe that just six months ago Stacey interviewed Rogers to hear more about Nest’s security products. (CNET)

Faster, more power-efficient encryption at the edge: With recent stories about how much electricity Bitcoin mining gobbles up, it’s nice to see some focus on power efficiency. That’s what MIT has done with a new chip said to increase the speed of public-key encryption on devices by a factor of 500. While the speed is welcome—device encryption processes typically aren’t quick—even better is that the hardware approach reduces the encryption power requirements to just 1/400th of the energy of a software encryption approach. This is important for IoT devices at the edge of a network, which can run on small batteries and therefore need to conserve every milliwatt of power they can. Watch for more ASICs, or application-specific integrated circuits, as our IoT needs continue to expand beyond traditional software solutions. (MIT)

What are the impacts of driverless cars? Let me count the ways: This list of 73 implications of autonomous vehicles is a super read, because it’s one thing to talk about a driverless-car future from the perspective of the technology, but it’s another when you consider the numerous impacts caused by the technology. Think of reductions in traffic policing, for example, a possible decrease in demand for car ownership, or major disruption to the automobile insurance industry. I’m not typically a fan of list-like articles, but this one from Geoff Nesnow is worth an exception to the rule. (Medium)

LimeBike raises $ 70M for real estate companies to offer dockless bikes: When I visited Scottsdale, Arizona over the Christmas holiday, I couldn’t walk more than 100 feet without seeing what looked like a discarded neon green bicycle. Upon closer inspection, I found out these were LimeBikes: cycles used for inexpensive rides with the idea of leaving the bike at your destination. LimeBikes use a connected lock, integrated GPS, and mobile app for the ride. Now, the company has raised another $ 70 million (for a total of $ 132 million) to make it easier to find and store bikes at large, managed real estate properties through dedicated parking spaces. It’s a smart move because it provides centralized accessibility in places where there might be a large number of customers looking for quick and cheap mobility. (Forbes)

Misty wants a robot in every house: You’re likely familiar with Sphero, the company that makes a small, $ 100 robotic ball. You may not, however, know about Misty Robotics, which spun out of Sphero for a different market. Misty is targeted for a developer edition release this month at a cost of $ 1,500. The idea is that a more feature-packed and easily programmable robot could lead to less of a toy and more of a functional assistant based on what developers create with Misty. Using dual treads, Misty can roam around your home either autonomously or programmatically. And she has far more smarts than a Sphero, thanks to a pair of Qualcomm Snapdragon chips (found in most smartphones), a light sensor for mapping, digital camera, microphone, speakers, and USB ports. And a 4.3-inch touchscreen shows Misty’s “emotions” based on information or activities. Using either Blocky or Javascript along with Misty APIs, she looks relatively easy to program. Perhaps Misty is on tap for my next project! (Fast Company)

Another day, another botnet. Where’s the fix?: I doubt we’ll ever see the end of botnet attacks on devices, but we do need to see the end of infected devices that may never get patched. The Satori botnet infected 100,000 devices in just half a day back in December, and plenty of device makers did what they’re supposed to do and provided patches to address the issue. Dasan isn’t one of those device makers, though. More than 40,000 Dasan-built routers are still exploitable by Satori and the company reportedly still hasn’t responded to a December advisory explaining that its routers infected by Satori allow for unauthorized remote code execution. The public needs to continue putting pressure on device makers that don’t take quick action in case of security challenges. Keep voting with your dollars in the meantime. (Ars Technica)

HomePod’s smarts are in the speaker engineering, not in Siri: This is a bit of a personal plug since I reviewed Apple’s HomePod earlier this week. Most of the early reviews were based on the HomePod experience through a combination of Apple briefings and personal use. I found most of those to be less critical (and filled with far more positive superlatives) than reviewers who, like us, simply bought our own HomePod. Maybe it’s just me, but I wasn’t as blown away by the sound as early reviewers. And I find it difficult to give Siri a pass when she’s smarter on the iPad and iPhone than she is inside HomePod. (StaceyOnIoT)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

IoT news of the week for Feb. 9, 2018

Nest was absorbed into Google: We discussed this on the podcast this week, but it’s worth mentioning heretoo. At best, the decision to bring Nest into Google will make for easier and faster hardware design. At worst, it’s an admission that Nest can’t stand alone as its own company in Alphabet’s “Other Bets” category. Nest has sold a relatively skimpy 11 million devices (compare that with Amazon’s estimated 31 million Echo devices in just a few years) and has been slow to produce more world-changing gadgets. (CNET)

What about your Nest data? A big question after the news broke that Nest would be absorbed by Google was, what will happen to users’ Nest data? When Google acquired Nest in 2014, it made a big deal of keeping the two companies’ data separate. When I asked that question, Matt Flegal, a Nest spokesman, said via email, “Today’s announcement does not change the way Nest uses data under its Privacy Statement.

“In short, Nest users’ data will continue to be used for the limited purposes described in our Privacy Statement like providing, developing, and improving Nest services and products. As we develop future plans and future product integrations, we will be transparent with users about the benefits of those integrations, any changes to the handling of data, and the choices available to consumers in connection with those changes.”

However, I’d keep an eye on my terms of service if I were you, because that could change down the road. But then what would a consumer do? Uninstall their thermostat? Replace their many smoke detectors? Ugh.

Let’s talk about this Intel “edge” processor: This week, Intel  made a huge deal of this new system on a chip being built “for the edge.” I’ve expressed my frustration with the trend of calling everything “the edge” in the past, but Intel’s efforts seem particularly egregious. This is nothing but a massive server chip designed for telecommunications firms. The edge features Intel is touting are basically that this product would work well in servers living at the edge of the telco network. Telcos are betting big on their ability to convince corporate and enterprise customers that their networks can offer edge computing, and that will require much fatter computing power than the current industrial IoT or enterprise IoT gateway boxes, but I’m hard-pressed to consider that the edge. (Intel)

FreeRTOS and embedded OSes: With the internet of things, the mysterious and fragmented world of embedded operating systems is consolidating so as to become more accessible to developers. This article explores what role Amazon wants to play in that transition with its acquisition of the FreeRTOS embedded operating system. (Embedded Computing Design)

How to handle the aftermath of an industrial security breach: Last last year we covered the Triton exploit, which compromised an oil and gas refinery thanks to a vulnerability in equipment from Schneider Electric. Schneider, as part of the steps it took after the attack, uploaded the exploit to a public repository of viruses and malware, where it was promptly copied. Now folks are concerned that the exploit could be recreated and are arguing that Schneider’s decision to upload the code was wrong. Schneider argues that this is a common reaction to an exploit. The whole article takes a look at cybersecurity practices I had never considered and showcases how different the industrial and IT worlds are. (Automation World)

Containers for IoT: This fellow has built a container architecture for the internet of things based on the same kernel that runs the popular Docker container software. The IoT version is called Eliot. If you want to understand more about the benefits of containers for IoT, then check out this profile of from a few weeks back. (Medium)

Spain’s big bets on smarter cars: Telefonica and Huawei have built a 5G-based vehicle-to-vehicle communications network test bed in Madrid where the two firms have a 5G Joint Innovation lab. There, they plan to test 5G-based V2V technology for remote driving, fleet platooning, and other benefits of networked cars. Also in Spain, Orange Spain and Spanish automaker SEAT have signed an agreement to  improve the passenger experience, bringing smart home options to car users and building some kind of loyalty program to encourage users to adopt the new technology. (Telegeography)

Connected devices should focus on usage, not purchase: This HBR article delves into the perspectives top-performing consumer brands have on their customers. Do they think of them as buyers of the product, or focus on them as users? In the first case, the emphasis is on prompting a buying decision, while in the second, the focus is on creating an experience that leads to continued use and advocacy for the brand. My contention is that connected devices should focus on the latter. (Harvard Business Review)

The EFF is suing to break DRM on connected devices: DRM on connected devices can be used to keep owners of said products from updating their software, repairing their devices, and generally doing anything the manufacturer doesn’t like. It’s a big issue and getting bigger as we buy more connected products. Hence the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s efforts. (EFF)

FTC’s PrivacyCon event is coming! If you care as much about privacy as I do, perhaps you want to visit Washington, D.C. on Feb. 28th to attend the Federal Trade Commission’s annual event discussing the topic. It will be webcast, too! (FTC)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis

IoT news of the week for Feb. 2, 2017

Will the new FTC be less into privacy? The new members of the Federal Trade Commission are more experienced with antitrust than with privacy enforcement, which is making attorneys who monitor the agency concerned that those members will be less focused on enforcing privacy regulations. This is somewhat dismaying, considering that the FTC back in 2013 saw the deluge of freely available consumer data from connected devices and proposed in 2015 that Congress write new laws about it. It has also been proactive in enforcing some basic IoT security practices, suing companies that advertised secure devices even if they did not follow basic practices like forcing a password change after a user has set up the product. As more connected devices come online and suck up consumer data, a less vigilant FTC would be a shame. (Law360)

Do we need our own digital twin? The digital twin concept comes from NASA’s space program in which the idea was to create a digital simulacrum of the shuttle for testing purposes. Other industries, from Formula One racing to industrial manufacturing, have followed suit, building digital models of their highly specialized and sensitive equipment. But does that mean we should — or could — build a digital twin of our own human bodies? This article asks if we could use it to show the effects of our life choices or diagnose illness. My contention is that while the idea is interesting, we’re only discovering the complexities associated with our bodies. For example, it’s becoming clear that any medically useful version would need to account for our highly individual, complex, and changing microbiomes. So maybe the question isn’t yet should we create a digital twin, but can we create a digital twin? (IoT for All)

Four industrial sensors to consider: This is pretty nerdy, but I’m obsessed with sensors because when applied in new ways they can open up new experiences or insights. These four range from a high-temperature accelerometer to an ultrasonic sensor that can be used to measure liquids and powders. When they become interesting is when you take them out of their industrial context and apply them in a home. For example, an ultrasonic sensor might be put into a plastic container to sense how much flour or liquid is left inside. As it gets closer to empty, maybe it’s time to signal for a restock. (Embedded Computing Design)

Microsoft Azure boosted earnings! Amazon’s Web Services is still the cloud of choice for startups and many IoT platform companies, but you can’t ignore the pull of Microsoft Azure when it comes to attracting big enterprise clients. Among the enterprise and industrial IoT companies I talk to, most have their operations and data on Microsoft Azure. With the company’s second quarter financials (for fiscal 2018) reported this week, that becomes very clear; Microsoft saw a 98% leap in its cloud revenue from Azure from the previous quarter. How much is that, exactly, in hard dollars? We don’t know, because Microsoft doesn’t break out its Azure sales. However, it’s clearly doing something right. CEO Satya Nadella even gave a shout-out to the intelligent edge in the company’s earnings call. (MarketWatch)

More IoT for the construction business: At CES, Nate Williams, an EIR at Kleiner, told me he was interested in how the IoT can improve the construction sector. Well, here’s a cool startup that uses LIDAR and robots to monitor progress at a construction site each day and makes sure things are built to spec. Doxel monitors sites to ensure the humans building the project are following the plan and sticking to the timeline. As someone who has personally dealt with delays on home construction, I can only imagine how behind things can get on larger projects. Doxel will scan the site each day and let you know when, for example, someone just installed a beam in the wrong place to support the cantilevered deck you planned to add later. Finding out sooner is better than later. (IEEE Spectrum)

Should we worry about Satori? After the Mirai botnet exposed the dangers of having hard-coded passwords and a zombie horde of connected Linux-based boxes that could be harnessed to take down websites with denial-of-service attacks, security researchers have been down on IoT devices. But in most cases, IoT devices don’t have enough processing power to interest botnet creators because they aren’t that smart, or have limited access to the internet. So when I read about Satori, a botnet that’s attacked ARC-based devices that can include thermostats, I wondered if this was really the second coming of Mirai. It looks like its ability to infect set-top boxes and other devices that have more processing power might make it troublesome, although it is still only at about 40,000 devices. It takes advantage of devices still using default passwords, so change yours today. (MIT Technology Review)

Connect at your own risk: How often do you link your phone to your rental car while traveling? If you do, then you’re at risk for the maps data you request, your phone’s identity, and other elements to become part of the car’s stored record of user data. That’s because most rental agencies don’t have a way to clear previous drivers’ records from their cars. This may seem small, but think about all the times you put in your Netflix credentials at an AirBnB or any number of other times you make bits of your digital persona available. (Privacy International)

Suvie stores and then cooks your food on demand: I have a soft spot for kitchen gadgets and this one has me intrigued. The Suvie, which will go live next week on Kickstarter, offers a steam oven, broiler, sous vide functionality, and pasta/rice cooker. It can also keep food cool until it’s time to start cooking. It’s the food itself that gives me pause. The Suvie comes with meals that are optimized for the device, which means it’s closer to the Tovala oven than my beloved June oven. (The Spoon)

We can’t automate without people (and compassion): This story does a deep dive into what happened after Australia let an AI spot fraud and waste in its benefits program. The goal was to claw back misspent money, and the government threw algorithms at the problem of discovering waste and fraud. It then sent those who were flagged into an automated system with too few humans, making life a misery for folks already down on their luck. Bureaucracy is already tough to navigate. Adding an AI black box to the mix isn’t going to help.  (Logic)

Are you using your smartphone less? Over at our web site, Kevin writes about how he’s using his smartphone less because he’s using his watch and voice more. Plus, he detailed a fun project that he built using a LIFX bulb to track the ups and downs of his favorite cryptocurrency. (StaceyonIoT)

Stacey on IoT | Internet of Things news and analysis