Dec
18

How Ethernet Can Secure The Connected Car

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In-car networks could become the next favorite target for hackers. Ethernet offers many options to protect the connected car from malicious attacks.

In-car networks are increasingly being designed-in and deployed to connect systems such as infotainment, driver assist, autonomous driving and safety systems, often on shared, high-bandwidth infrastructures. These networks, and the devices that connect to them, require diagnostics and service through external interfaces. Additionally, more and more of today’s connected cars are equipped with Internet access, and oftentimes a WLAN,  to communicate with devices inside and outside of the vehicle.

Consequently, the connected car could also become a prime target for hackers.  Using just a laptop or tablet, hackers have the potential to take control of the electronics in your car. There is already research today that documents and demonstrates such attacks with alarming consequences.

In contrast to traditional IT networks, the in-car network is manufactured and physically insecure. So, with access to a mass produced vehicle and the appropriate time and resources, a hacker can develop a set of “attacks” against the vehicle and then distribute those attacks through an entire fleet. In other words, a single, well-engineered attack could have a wide impact.

 

Figure 1. The connected car is vulnerable to attacks at many different entry points into the network via firmware corruption or through an Ethernet on-board diagnostics port, Ethernet port access or gateway device. The types of attacks that can occur include network control (hackers install or corrupt a device on the network so they can control the operation of other devices), denial of service, and snooping (information theft).

Figure 1. The connected car is vulnerable to attacks at many different entry points into the network via firmware corruption or through an Ethernet on-board diagnostics port, Ethernet port access or gateway device. The types of attacks that can occur include network control (hackers install or corrupt a device on the network so they can control the operation of other devices), denial of service, and snooping (information theft).

Increasingly, Ethernet is being designed into in-car networks because of its high bandwidth, price-performance, ubiquity, and future technology roadmap, while new standards such as single twisted-pair and Audio Visual Bridging (AVB) are opening up many new automotive use cases. Ethernet’s already in some vehicles today.

By 2020, Frost and Sullivan estimates that most cars will have 50 to 60 Ethernet ports, with premium vehicles pushing that number toward 100. Even entry-level vehicles are expected to get in on the action with roughly 10 Ethernet port

Ethernet, particularly switched Ethernet, has been deployed in IT environments for several decades and has a long history of standards and solutions that can help secure the network.

To better understand how Ethernet can help secure the connected car, it’s important to first understand some basics about the technology. As shown in Figure 2, Ethernet uses a standard packet format that includes a source and destination address, a VLAN tag and a Frame Check. This provides a basic level of authentication, isolation and data integrity. The addresses can be globally unique or locally administered (given that the in-car network is mostly a closed network).

The Ethernet switches provide traffic isolation and filtering using a Filtering Database (FDB) or Multicast Forwarding Database (MFDB), and can act as management points for further network control. A rich set of statistics standards enable anomaly monitoring in software.

Figure 2. The Ethernet frame's header contains destination and source MAC addresses as its first two fields and a cyclic redundancy check (CRC) to verify packet integrity. It may also contain a VLAN tag, which defines a system and procedures to be used by bridges and switches to support VLANs.

 

Figure 2. The Ethernet frame’s header contains destination and source MAC addresses as its first two fields and a cyclic redundancy check (CRC) to verify packet integrity. It may also contain a VLAN tag, which defines a system and procedures to be used by bridges and switches to support VLANs.

Switched Ethernet offers a base level of security protection, but more is needed, and many additional features have evolved and are widely supported in Ethernet standards and/or products. Because the in-car network is typically highly-engineered and static with predictable traffic characteristics, it offers the opportunity to tightly configure and constrain the network operation according to design intent.

For instance, there are several ways to control the scope of network traffic and in turn, the potential for snooping and attack. One approach uses VLANs to create multiple broadcast domains within the physical network (see Figure 3); this is already broadly deployed and supported by Ethernet switches. Using VLANs, you can isolate traffic of different types on the shared physical network such that devices can only talk to the other devices within their domain. For example, one VLAN can be configured for Infotainment while a separate one can be configured for driver assist and another for safety.

Network isolation between the two can be enforced by the Ethernet switches. Traffic isolation also can be achieved within each VLAN through the use of unknown unicast or multicast filtering. Rogue stations and MAC spoofing can still occur, but techniques such as static provisioning of the FDB, port MAC locking, and implementation of software learning limits can all be used to mitigate this risk.

Figure 3. VLANs can be used to limit the scope of traffic and mitigate the risk of attack. Note that no connectivity exists between the VLANs themselves without a router.

Figure 3. VLANs can be used to limit the scope of traffic and mitigate the risk of attack. Note that no connectivity exists between the VLANs themselves without a router.

In addition, access control lists (ACLs) can  reduce the scope of traffic and are particularly well suited for the in-car network because of the opportunity to design in knowledge of expected device and network behavior. ACLs provide precisely configured match-action rules for packet forwarding that define which stations can transmit and where the traffic is allowed to go.

 

Dec
10

With Windows 10, Microsoft could move to a subscription-based model

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Microsoft has indicated that Windows 10, which will be released next year, could move towards a subscription-based model. Instead of going the usual route and buying a perpetual Windows 10 license for $50 to $200, you would instead pay a few dollars per month — and then, as with most subscriptions, you’d get free upgrades when major new versions of Windows come along. Another option might be that you get a basic version of Windows 10 for free, but a subscription would unlock more advanced features — this is the scheme that Microsoft currently uses with its Office for iOS apps.

Speaking at a conference in Arizona, Microsoft’s COO Kevin Turner spoke quite frankly about the rapidly changing tides of the PC market, and how ultimately Microsoft has lost a big chunk of its money-making potential. “The first 39 years of our company, we had one of the greatest business models of all time built around … the Windows client operating system,” said Turner, and then spoke about how Microsoft is pivoting to become a cloud- and devices-oriented company.

Later, Turner was asked about whether Microsoft intends to use Windows 10 as a loss-leader to keep users within the Windows ecosystem, which prompted this very interesting response: We plan to “monetize the lifetime of that customer through services and different add-ons that we’re (going) to be able to incorporate with that solution.” That isn’t quite confirmation that Microsoft is moving Windows 10 to a subscription-based model — but it certainly soundslike subscriptions will play a key role in developing new revenue streams. (Turner said more details about Windows 10 pricing will be available next year.)

 

Nov
27

How to install Security/CCTV System for Your Home

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Step 1: Get the right cables. RG59 Siamese Cable, is the industry standard type of cable used for most CCTV installs. This cable consists of one video cable and one power cable (Positive and Negative), thus the name Siamese.

Step 2: Find the right location for your cameras. There is a special CCTV design software to choose a right location for CCTV camera. For example you can use a demo of IP Video System Design Tool. You can import your floor plans/site plan into this software and then add cameras, choose desired camera coverage and get angle of view, required lens focal length and 3D mockups.

Step 3: For most homes cameras are installed where the roof meets the walls of the house. This is a good location because it shelters the cameras from the elements (Wind, rain, snow and sun). Also, cameras placed near the roof usually have a better field of view and are less likely to be vandalized. Another advantage is simplified cable runs Power & video) since many homes have a small gap or hole where cables can be run between the roof and the wall.

Step 4: Find a point of entrance from the outside of the house to the inside. Most homes have an attic which is a great place to run all your RG59 lines into.

Step 5: Designate one location for your DVR and Monitor to be stationed.

Step 6: Bring all the RG59 lines into that room from the attic. If you purchased the RG59 cable with BNC connections already attached then at this point you would connect these to the DVR.

Step 7: If you purchased a bulk roll of RG59 cable without connections you would need to purchase the BNC connections and crimp each end on, then connect to the DVR.

Step 8: These cameras require DC voltage for their power supply. You can either connect the power supply line from each camera separately into an outlet (using pig tails) and an AC Adapter, or you can get an AC/DC power supply box, plug all the camera power lines into the box, then connect one AC power line from the outlet to the box.

Step 9: Warning:-In either case you must ensure that the correct DC voltage is supplied to your cameras or they will suffer permanent damage.

Step 10: -It is recommended that the DVR be connected to your Monitor before turning on their power supply

Step 11: This can be an easy and entertaining project once you have the appropriate tools and information.




 


 


 

 

 

 

Nov
20

Install and configure Remote Desktop Service in windows server 2012

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In this Blog we will install and configure the Windows 2012 Remote Desktop Services Role. We will configure the website for RDWEB access and also configure remote app apps locally through the remote desktop client. Before we start bare in mind RDS is not supported on a Domain Controller, it may work but you may come across lots of issues while installing, also if you plan to connect to applications with the remote web site (RDWEB) and do not want an annoying certificate error for your users  then you will need a certificate which matches the A Record you want to hit externally. For example remote.techieshelp.com.

Windows 2012 Install Remote Desktop Services

As with all other roles we need to first launch Server Manager so we can install the Remote Desktop Services Role, once launched then select “Manage” from the top right hand corner and select Add Roles and Features as seen below.

 

add roles and features server 2012

You will now see the standard welcome splash screen, click next to continue. On the next screen you get to choose what type of Installation type we are doing. Select Remote Desktop Services Installation. Then click next.

remote desktop services installation

In my environment I will be running a single server, as you can see there is a wizard for this called “Quick Start”, select this option to continue.

Single server remote desktop

In remote desktop services 2012 you get the option of deploying full virtual desktops with their own applications or traditional session based desktops that can be published via a web-page or via remote app. Here we are deploying a session based environment. Select this option and continue.

Remote desktop session based

The following screen states that it will install all of the required roles on one server. in a multi server environment you create a pool and you can select what role is installed to each server, you can load balance etc if your environment is a large remote desktop environment. In this deployment all the roles are on one server. Click next.

Remote desktop services pool

You will now see the summary screen, to start the installation you must put a tick in the box to accept the server will reboot, Do so and click deploy.

The server will now go away and install the roles. Once done click close. The server will reboot.Upon reboot remote Desktop Services will continue to install, once done close the screen.

 

 

Nov
12

VNC Server and its configuration in Linux

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Introduction

VNC stands for Virtual Network Computing. It is, in essence, a remote display system which allows you to view a computing `desktop’ environment not only on the machine where it is running, but from anywhere on the Internet and from a wide variety of machine architectures. It is implemented in a client/ server model. This package provides a fully functional X server, to which a VNC viewer can connect. Note: This server does not support or need a display. You need a vncviewer to see something. However, this viewer may also be on a computer running other operating systems in the local net. This package is an enhanced version of VNC including TightVNC allowing it to be optimized to work over slow network connections such as low-speed modem links so you can work remotely almost in real time in most environments.

Most of the time as a system administrator you are managing your servers over the network. It is very rare that you will need to have a physical access to any of your managed servers. In most cases all you need is to SSH remotely to do your administration tasks. In this article we will configure a GUI alternative to a remote access to your RHEL server, which is VNC. VNC allows you to open a remote GUI session to your server and thus providing you with a full graphical interface accessible from any remote location

Installation of VNC server

In order to enable an access to our Redhat Linux system using VNC we first need to install it. Make sure that you have your repository enabled and execute the command:

#  yum install tigervnc-server

The above command will install the VNC server on your system.

Setting up VNC session

At this point we should have VNC server installed on our system and thus we are ready to setup sessions. In VNC you can define a separate access session for each particular user. For this we will use VNC configuration file: /etc/sysconfig/vncservers

To configure VNC for a user “sam” /etc/sysconfig/vncservers file insert the following lines:

VNCSERVERS=”2:sam”
VNCSERVERARGS[2]=”-geometry 800×600 -nolisten tcp -localhost”

The above will configure VNC session 2 for a user lubos with specified geometry windows size. -nolisten and -localhost are added as a security precaution. You can omit -nolisten and -localhost and connect to VNC directly. In that case you will need to open a VNC port on your firewall. It is recommended to use -nolisten and -localhost option and thus allow clients to connect only via existing secure ssh port 22 using the SSH tunnel.

Before you start the VNC service, first you will need to create a VNC password for each user session you have configured in /etc/sysconfig/vncservers. To do that su to each user and execute:

[[email protected] ~]# su sam
[[email protected] root]$ vncpasswd
Password:
Verify:
[[email protected] root]$

At this point you will be able to start the VNC service with the command:

# service vncserver start

Connecting to VNC server

If you allowed your clients to connect to your VNC server without the secure SSH tunnel, you first need to make sure that your firewall allows this connection. Then simply connect to your VNC using:

$ vncviewer sdc.server:2

Connected to RFB server, using protocol version 3.8

Performing standard VNC authentication

Password:
Authentication successful

where sdc.server is a hostname or IP address of your server and number 2 is a session number you have configured for your user. Once you enter a correct password your session will start.

4.1. Connecting to VNC server via SSH tunel

It is recommend to connect to VNC via ssh tunnel. This can be easily done using vncviewer -via option with will automatically create an ssh tunnel for you:

$ vncviewer -via [email protected] localhost:2

First, you will be prompted for a password:

Once you enter a correct password for your VNC user your VNC session will start:

Conclusion

VNC is a great tool for remote connection to you server when GUI interface is needed. It also has an advantage of running task remotely and keep them alive even once your network connection to a remote VNC was disconnected. This is a quite useful if you run some important GUI updates, which may take several hours and you do not want to kill this update simply by losing a network connection

 


 

 

 

 

Oct
30

Is your Ethernet fast enough? Four new speeds are in the works

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Ethernet’s future is now about much more than the next top speed: The engineers charting a path for the ubiquitous networking protocol are looking at several new versions to serve a variety of applications.

At a meeting last Thursday of the Ethernet Alliance, an industry group that promotes IEEE Ethernet standards, three major new projects were up for discussion.

To meet immediate demands in cloud data centers, there’s a standard in the works for 25Gbps (bits per second). For the kinds of traffic expected in those clouds a few years from now, experts are already discussing a 50Gbps specification. And for enterprises with new, fast Wi-Fi access points, there may soon be 2.5Gbps Ethernet. That’s in addition to the next top speed for carrier backbones and moves to adapt the technology for use in cars.

These efforts are all meant to serve a growing demand for Ethernet outside the traditional enterprise LANs for which it was originally designed. That means solving multiple problems instead of just how to get ever more bits onto a fiber or copper wire.

“What I’m hearing is lots of diversity. Lots of diversity in need, lots of diversity for the future,” Ethernet Alliance Chair John D’Ambrosia said part way into the daylong meeting in Santa Clara, California. “We’re moving away from an ‘Ethernet everywhere’ with essentially the same sort of flavor.”

The EA’s annual Technology Exploration Forum is a venue for discussing the kinds of technical details that many participants will go on to debate in various task groups of the IEEE 802.3 Working Group, which sets the official standards for Ethernet. Optical and electrical signaling, fiber strands and copper wires, processing power, energy consumption, heat, cost, and other issues all come into play in determining what to build and how.

Without diving too deep into those details, here are some of the new technologies brewing in Ethernet.

1. 25-Gigabit

A 25Gbps standard may seem like a step backward, because 40-Gigabit and 100-Gigabit Ethernet already exist. But in fact, it’s all about the need for more speed, specifically from servers in cloud data centers. Google and Microsoft are the biggest buyers of Ethernet now, largely because their cloud operations require so much data exchange between servers, according to Dell’Oro Group analyst Alan Weckel.

The key to 25-Gigabit Ethernet is that many of the components that could go into it are already developed: The 100-Gigabit standard is made up of four “lanes” of 25Gbps, so many of the same parts go into that high-end gear. That should mean higher production volumes for parts that go into both technologies, driving prices down.

Rallying around 25Gbps also gives network architects a logical way to build their data centers, with servers linking to switches at 25Gbps and the switches aggregating those connections into 100-Gigabit uplinks, Weckel said. That four-to-one ratio is what they’re used to working with.

Having building blocks in multiples of 25 will become more important as cloud data centers age, Weckel said. It should let network engineers reuse technology as needs and speeds grow.

“Right now, all clouds are greenfield, but as the cloud matures, and actually has a real business model and has to actually talk to Wall Street and explain the billions of dollars that they spend on every data center, you’re going to see reuse become very important,” Weckel said.

By contrast, 40-Gigabit Ethernet is made up of four lanes of 10-Gigabit Ethernet, a technology that the cloud giants are now outgrowing, Ethernet Alliance’s D’Ambrosia said. They need more than 10Gbps for each server, even as average enterprises start to connect more servers at that speed.

Google, Microsoft and several prominent networking vendors formed a group in early July to promote standardization of 25Gbps and 50Gbps Ethernet, saying they couldn’t wait for the IEEE to finish a standard. Later that month, the IEEE started its own25Gbps task group and said it might be done in as little as 18 months. On Thursday, D’Ambrosia said he doesn’t necessarily agree with that forecast but he’s optimistic. “Consensus is forming quickly in the industry,” he said.

2. 50-Gigabit

Work is also beginning on a 50Gbps specification, which could be the next speed offered for linking servers in data centers. Both servers and high-performance flash storage systems will drive a need for something more than 25Gbps in the biggest data centers in a few years, Weckel of Dell’Oro said.

At Thursday’s event, attendees debated whether to seek a 50Gbps standard or go all the way to a single-lane system for 100Gbps. A 50Gbps specification is more within reach, said Chris Cole, director of transceiver engineering at Finisar. For a 100Gbps standard today, “you’re pushing the components,” Cole said. He expects to see standard 50Gbps products starting in 2016.

3. 2.5-Gigabit

It may not sound very fast, but 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet might help companies fill their buildings with very fast Wi-Fi. It’s being proposed specifically as a tool to help enterprises’ wired infrastructure keep up with wireless access points that increasingly form the edge of those networks.

The latest Wi-Fi technology, IEEE 802.11ac, can operate at more than 1Gbps — much more, with certain configurations. With that much traffic going over the air, the Gigabit Ethernet links that most enterprises use to connect their access points to the wired network could become a bottleneck, said Kamal Dalmia, vice president of sales and marketing at Aquantia.

Upgrading to 10-Gigabit Ethernet would give networks plenty of bandwidth, but most companies don’t have the right kind of cable to do that, Dalmia and other participants said. A 2.5Gbps version of Ethernet would work on commonly used Category 5e and Category 6 cable over the standard distance of 100 meters, so users could go beyond Gigabit Ethernet without the cost of pulling new cable.

Aquantia is already producing silicon for Ethernet gear that can run at 2.5Gbps or 5Gbps. The process of setting a 2.5Gbps Ethernet standard, which might also involve 5Gbps capability, is expected to begin at an IEEE meeting next month.

4. 400-Gigabit

Ethernet’s backers haven’t given up on reaching a new top speed, either. An IEEE task group is already working on a 400-Gigabit Ethernet standard, which is currently projected for completion in March 2017. The fast links might use multiple lanes of either 50Gbps or 100Gbps. Once finished, the superfast technology would be destined for the cores of service-provider networks.

 

 

 

Oct
23

How to secure your cloud database in an insecure world

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There is a division of responsibility when you put your database to work in the cloud. An infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider, such as IBM SoftLayer, secures the physical components while responsibility to secure information rests with the application developer. Of course, the software as a service (SaaS) vendor must provide the developers and technology to secure the application, and the service must run on a platform that supports security as a fully integrated stack and not as an add-on layer. IBM Bluemix is a platform as a service (PaaS) that provides functional, infrastructure, operational, network and physical security for the core platform.

By default, a database uses unencrypted connections between the client and the server. This means that someone with access to the network could watch all your traffic and look at the data being sent or received. They could even change the data while it is in transit between the client and the server.

When you need to move information over a network in a secure fashion, an unencrypted connection is unacceptable. Encryption is necessary to make any kind of data unreadable. Encryption algorithms must include security elements to resist many kinds of known attacks, such as attempts to change the order of encrypted messages or replay data twice.

The IBM Analytics Warehouse for Bluemix is already configured for a secure connection using a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate. SSL is a protocol that uses different encryption algorithms to ensure that data received over a public network can be trusted. It has mechanisms to detect any data change, loss or replay. SSL also incorporates algorithms that provide identity verification using the X509 standard. X509 makes it possible to identify someone on the Internet. It is most commonly used in e-commerce applications.

In basic terms, there should be a certificate authority (or CA) that assigns electronic certificates to anyone who needs them. Certificates rely on asymmetric encryption algorithms that have two encryption keys, a public key and a secret key that is held by the owner. A certificate owner can show the certificate to another party as proof of identity. Any data encrypted with the public key can be decrypted only by using the corresponding secret key.

In Bluemix, the Analytics Warehouse service provides a rich set of built-in security capabilities to help clients meet their security, privacy and compliance needs. They include:

• Encryption for data at rest: By default, the Analytics Warehouse service in Bluemix uses an encrypted database. The encryption uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) in cipher block chaining (CBC) mode with a 256 bit key. Encryption and key management are totally transparent to applications and schemas. Additionally, the service administrator manages the master key rotation period. Database and tablespace backup images are automatically compressed and encrypted. As with online data, backup images are also encrypted using AES in CBC mode with 256 bit keys. Data is compressed first and then encrypted.

• Encryption for data in transit: SSL is supported for safeguarding both the database traffic as well as the web console traffic.

• Trusted contexts: This feature allows clients to further restrict when a user can exercise a particular privilege. For example, a client can easily implement a rule that permits connecting to the database only from a given IP address. Additionally, for three-tiered applications, trusted contexts allow the mid-tier application to assert the end user identity to the database for access control and auditing purposes.

The Analytics Warehouse service is primarily used in two different ways.

• Application developers and data scientists launch the web-based console to develop a statistical and predictive analytic application using built-in R and R-studio features.

• Application developers and data scientists use their own machine learning algorithm to develop an application in the language of their choice and then use the Analytics Warehouse database to push that application to Bluemix

SecureBLU is an application hosted on Bluemix that demonstrates the approaches an application developer can take to secure an application while accessing a database in the cloud.

 

Oct
16

You can’t afford to ignore the internet of things

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The internet of things (IoT) is a powerful, unstoppable, world-changing force. Analysts predict that 20 billion to 30 billion “things” will be connected to the internet by 2020. As such, launching an IoT business is quickly becoming an imperative across industries and around the world.

Most companies have websites. If they didn’t, we’d question their viability. Fast forward 15 years from now, and we’ll be even more shocked when we hear of companies operating outside of the IoT. However, the concept of an IoT revolution is not just an extension of the internet revolution; this convergence of the physical and digital worlds has the potential to transform industries, and our lives, on a greater scale than the internet has.

The early concept of the IoT was a system that connected objects in the physical world to the internet via sensors that gathered and reported data to a central location. That was in 1999, when Kevin Ashton, co-founder of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, proposed the term “internet of things”. Since then we have seen the machine-to-machine era, where devices began to communicate with other devices. Today, the IoT is connecting businesses, people and technology in real time, all the time. It is reshaping businesses across every sector of the economy and every industry.

From connected jet engines that reduce unplanned downtime, to connected vending machines that ensure the most in-demand beverages are always perfectly chilled and stocked, IoT is changing business models, customer relationships and organizational structures. Interestingly enough, the value being created does not come from the jet engine or the vending machine, but from the experiences and benefits that those connected devices enable. In other words, setting aside the hype around the latest IoT gadgets, the internet of things isn’t about the “things”. It’s about service. And that idea is revolutionary.

The IoT service opportunity

Connected services are not just forward-looking business opportunities: they are imperative now. Companies can’t afford to sit back and wait. In fact, 95% of chief experience officers told The Economist Intelligence Unit that they expect to launch IoT businesses in the next three years. Becoming an IoT business benefits a company in three fundamental ways: it brings the company much closer to its customers, providing a deeper, richer understanding of their wants and needs; it automates manual processes, directing focus on the most valuable parts of the operation; it brings new revenue streams and pricing strategies and makes the company’s business model more efficient. The model evolves from individual, one-time product sales to connected services that generate recurring revenue.

The automotive industry is a prime example of how extending the digital world into the physical world can unlock added value for customers and lucrative new sources of revenue for enterprises. For instance, General Motors no longer just sells cars. The company is at the cutting edge of user experience and new business models that allow it to connect to its customers in real time. It offers services through its vehicles that immediately detect when you’ve been in an accident and connect to emergency services to dispatch help. The vehicle becomes a WiFi hotspot for internet access and streaming content. By 2015, all GM vehicles in the United States and Canada will have 4G LTE technology built in, allowing passengers to use in-car apps, stream music and more. GM’s connected car strategy includes – but is not limited to – a Chevy app store that will let car owners download applications to the centre screen of a vehicle dashboard, a music app called Slacker Radio that provides more than 13 million songs, and an app called Glympse that lets drivers share real-time movement with friends. That doesn’t include other exclusive apps in the works, like Vehicle Health, which offers detailed information about vehicle performance.

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GM and other car companies have evolved into service providers. Innovators like these industry leaders realize that drivers and passengers not only want a reliable, comfortable vehicle, but also services to enhance their driving experience. By capitalizing on IoT, these original equipment manufacturers are able to provide remote diagnostics, maintenance, software updates, weather and traffic services, and much more. Not only do customers enjoy a connected experience, but the carmaker also improves its business.

This shift in business value from products to services is inspiring a wide variety of industries to redefine how they do business. For instance, Allstate, a US-based insurance company, is using connected devices to provide a usage-based insurance service called Drivewise®. In-vehicle connectivity enables Allstate to collect information on safe driving behaviour and reward drivers with preferred rates. These predictive insights replace guesswork and translate into higher customer acquisition and loyalty. Heineken, Europe’s largest brewer, has connected commercial kegs to deliver information that enables distributors and retailers to check the volume in kegs in real time. This provides the visibility necessary to make informed decisions regarding inventory planning and management. The system can also be used to report on product age and verify that kegs are being stored at the correct temperature, immediately alerting retailers and their suppliers to any issues that could compromise product quality. This capability gives establishments peace of mind, minimizes product waste and ensures that patrons receive the best possible experience.

Thousands of enterprises across dozens of industries are transforming their businesses into service businesses. Connecting a business to the IoT touches every part of the company and reshapes it for the better. The economic benefits of this transformation are profound. But how do enterprises get there?

Taking the first steps

Becoming an IoT service business unlocks incredible benefits, but it also comes with unique challenges. The IoT is a direct, always-on connection between your business and the rest of the world. When products are connected in real time, all the time, businesses are able to deliver an amazing array of new experiences to their customers. However, doing so will also fundamentally change how they operate, interact with those customers and make money. Companies must shift their focus from product-centric to service-centric business models.

For most businesses, the IoT is completely new territory, and the pace of innovation is incredible. Enterprises looking to capitalize on the IoT can’t afford to waste any time. They can learn from and emulate the handful of IoT success stories that have emerged recently, but if they want to lead in their own industries, they’ll need to move quickly to deploy their own IoT initiatives.

Navigating this kind of transition requires new business models and operating structures. Enterprises will also need to develop resources, expertise and alliances that enable them to manage and monetize these new services and relationships. They will also need capabilities that are critical to all successful IoT businesses like remote service management, customer engagement, support diagnostics, billing, etc. And finally, they will need a way to automate these actions in real time and at scale, in order thrive and grow in the IoT space.

Meet the new best friend of IoT businesses: automation

Arguably one of the most valuable differentiators for a connected enterprise is automation. It gives businesses the ability to not only gather information but to convert that information into insights and then use those insights to take action in real time. Imagine you’re running a connected ice cream vending machine company. Think of what you would want to monitor and control: inventory, temperature, coin jams, maintenance, etc. If the temperature rises too high, the ice cream melts, the quality of your service is compromised and you risk losing not only sales but your reputation as well. However, with automation, you can anticipate these types of risks and programme responses to immediately address the issues before they become problems. Temperature outside of acceptable standards? That information is immediately conveyed and the system automatically triggers necessary responses (e.g. in-machine temperature adjustment or a service call).

Whether you can get your favourite ice cream flavour is not a life or death situation. But with medical care it often is. In the world of healthcare, every second matters. Getting information in real time and responding equally as fast is crucial. Take the Boston Scientific, producer of a connected pacemaker, for example. The remote patient management system used with these devices showed a 33% relative reduction in the risk of death in patients who were remotely monitored compared to patients who were not. Additionally, these patients experienced a 19% relative reduction in hospitalizations for any cause.

 

Oct
08

The top 10 Internet and technology trends for 2014

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1. The Internet of things

Little by little, all electronic devices are connecting to the Internet. It started with personal computers, notebooks, tablets and mobile phones. Then it was TVs, cars, glasses and watches. What’s next? Our homes. Fridges, keys, the heating, the electric meter and hoovers will all be connected. These new smart devices will not only be connected, but will also offer contextual relevance and a user-friendly experience, so are expected to have higher adoption rates, connecting every part of our lives.

2. Wearable devices

Wearable technologies will be everywhere in 2014. From activity bands to smart helmets and from smart clothing to Google Glass, we will be fully equipped with interconnected devices powered by the Internet. Wearable watches are already on the market, despite the limited functionality of the first-generation technology. Google Glass will get closer to the consumer, initiating a new trend where Web-based information is closely tied to the user’s daily habits, work and activities. Technology will also merge with clothing. Smart shoes from Adidas, for example, will have an integrated accelerometer, a gyroscope and Bluetooth, with the aim of motivating the user to exercise.

3. Augmented reality

Technologies that augment reality – connecting the physical and the virtual world – seemed super futuristic yesterday, but will soon become reality. In doing so, they will open up great opportunities for user engagement. We will basically be able to turn the whole world into a digital space where we can use the power of technologies to discover new digital horizons. The market for augmented reality mobile apps is predicted to grow this year and, according to Juniper Research, revenues will reach $5.2 billion by 2017.

The launch of Google Glass in 2014 will lead to even further growth in the market. It will shorten the distance between users and technology, allowing them to augment their everyday activities, such as watching a video on the cover of a newspaper or buying items by simply scanning them from a magazine.

4. Big data and machine learning algorithms

Traditional analytics will become obsolete. The future of technology will be shaped by machine learning algorithms – algorithms that are able to learn from the data they process and can be trained to improve as they process more data.

Machine learning is already a huge part of our lives, from filtering spam e-mails to providing relevant searches on the first page of our Google search. With the exponential growth of data, simple data analysis will no longer provide value. Real value will come with the application of machine learning algorithms that not only analyse but also predict and suggest, leading to tremendous opportunities for real-time engagement. Personalized e-commerce and mobile shopping, personalized information and business-to-business intranet portals will make information easily accessible. Machine learning technologies will provide the information you need when it is needed.

5. mHealth technologies

Our mobile phones have turned into our personal assistants. They navigate us through the day, giving recommendations on where to eat, what to watch and what to read. The active healthcare consumer is now also equipped with apps that monitor health, give advice on what to eat and encourage exercise. With the proliferation of low-cost mobile devices in emerging economies, mHealth technologies have the potential to improve the lives of millions of people and make healthcare more personalized and efficient.  Analysts expect the global mHealth market to be worth $11.8 billion by 2018. What we can anticipate next is the personalization of the healthcare industry through technology and data.

6. 3D printing

The substantial decrease in the cost of 3D printing in the last year has made it affordable not only for companies but also for private users. The creative dimensions of the new technological possibilities are huge, ranging from architecture to home design to art and education. We will see various applications, particularly in healthcare. Affordable 3D-printed prosthetic devices, for example, will solve a real problem that will improve many people’s lives. The technology also holds great potential for manufacturing. Spare parts don’t have to be stored in big warehouses and sent over thousands of kilometres. Instead, they can be printed when and where they are actually needed. However, there will be negative consequences. Although some industries will make large cost savings, others might collapse.

7. Intraday delivery

E-commerce players with high-end warehouses, fast enterprise resource planning and supply chain management systems, and their own fleet of vehicles will change the way we buy online.

The competitive advantage of the bricks and mortar businesses will continue to crumble. The old way of delivery by outsourcing the logistics to companies such as traditional post, FedEx or DHL is neither fast nor innovative enough for leaders like Amazon and eBay. One-day delivery services will completely disrupt the business models of traditional retailers and transport and logistics companies. We saw the beginning with the testing of the first drones by Amazon. Although air traffic control and drone safety and usage rules will prevent quick proliferation, the one-day delivery service model will have important consequences.

8. Mobile payment and virtual currencies

With the increase in the number of mobile devices, there will be more and more new payment methods. NFC-enabled devices, digital wallets and Beacon, PayPal’s new wireless payment solution, are steadily reaching the mass market, allowing consumers to pay for things without a wallet or cash. Google will also be pushing the Google Wallet app for Android that allows users to send money using only a mobile phone. Apple’s iBeacon technology will unlock unlimited opportunities not only for mobile payments but also for indoor mapping and personalization. Finally, virtual currencies like bitcoin are the future, even if there are still a few issues to resolve.

9. Electric cars

This year, many vendors, even traditional car manufacturers, will finally launch full electric models. Unlike older vehicles, the electric cars of tomorrow will be fully equipped with computers, sensors and wireless connections, allowing cars to know more about the driver – information that could be very useful for car manufacturers. Although issues with batteries and charging remain, improvements and adaptations can be expected in the near future.

10. E-learning

Several new online learning platforms and portals such as  university online portals or YouTube channels have been disrupting traditional education models. The initial idea was to provide high-quality education but the consequences have been much larger. As a result, the classroom is no longer simply a mentoring space, but is now an interactive and inspirational learning environment. The ease of access and certification offered by online learning models are key to making knowledge accessible to all.

 

Sep
29

Brain-computer Interfaces

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The ability to control a computer using only the power of the mind is closer than one might think. Brain-computer interfaces, where computers can read and interpret signals directly from the brain, have already achieved clinical success in allowing quadriplegics, those suffering “locked-in syndrome” or people who have had a stroke to move their own wheelchairs or even drink coffee from a cup by controlling the action of a robotic arm with their brain waves. In addition, direct brain implants have helped restore partial vision to people who have lost their sight.

Recent research has focused on the possibility of using brain-computer interfaces to connect different brains together directly. Researchers at Duke University last year reported successfully connecting the brains of two mice over the Internet (into what was termed a “brain net”) where mice in different countries were able to cooperate to perform simple tasks to generate a reward. Also in 2013, scientists at Harvard University reported that they were able to establish a functional link between the brains of a rat and a human with a non-invasive, computer-to-brain interface.

Other research projects have focused on manipulating or directly implanting memories from a computer into the brain. In mid-2013, MIT researchers reported having successfully implanted a false memory into the brain of a mouse. In humans, the ability to directly manipulate memories might have an application in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, while in the longer term, information may be uploaded into human brains in the manner of a computer file. Of course, numerous ethical issues are also clearly raised by this rapidly advancing field.

 

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