Tag Archives: Telecom

Digital Doppelgängers Fool Advanced Anti-Fraud Tech

Post Syndicated from Payal Dhar original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/security/digital-doppelgngers-fool-advanced-antifraud-tech

With traces of a user’s browsing history and online behavior, hackers can build a fake virtual “twin” and use it to log in to a victim’s accounts

As new security technologies shield us from cybercrime, a slew of adversarial technologies match them, step for step. The latest such advance is the rise of digital doppelgängers—virtual entities that mimic real user behaviors authentic enough to fool advanced anti-fraud algorithms.

In February, Kaspersky Lab’s fraud-detection teams busted a darknet marketplace called Genesis that was selling digital identities starting from US $5 and going up to US $200. The price depended on the value of the purchased profile—for example, a digital mask that included a full user profile with bank login information would cost more than just a browser fingerprint.

The masks purchased at Genesis could be used through a browser and proxy connection to mimic a real user’s activity. Coupled with stolen (legitimate) user accounts, the attacker was then free to make new, trusted transactions in their name—including with credit cards.

Build Smart Prototypes for Autonomous and Connected Cars

Post Syndicated from National Instruments original https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/wireless/build-smart-prototypes-for-autonomous-and-connected-cars

Validation of embedded connectivity in V2X designs and self-driving cars mark an inflection point in automotive wireless designs, opening the door to modular solutions based on off-the-shelf hardware and flexible software

Automotive OEMs and Tier-1 suppliers are now in the thick of the technology world’s two gigantic engineering challenges: connected cars and autonomous vehicles. That inevitably calls for more flexible development, test, validation, and verification programs that can quickly adapt to the changing technologies and standards.

For a start, the vehicle-to-everything (V2X) technology, which embodies the connected car movement, is also the point where the wireless industry most intersects with autonomous vehicles (AVs). Collision detection and avoidance is a classic example of this technology crossover between the AV and connected car technologies.

It shows how vehicles and infrastructure work in tandem for the creation of a smart motoring network. Here, at this technology crossroads, when V2X technology converges and collides with AV connectivity, reliability and low latency become requirements that are even more critical.

It is worth mentioning here that the demand for extreme reliability in stringent environments is already a precondition in automotive designs. When added to the connected car and self-driving vehicle design realms, well-tested connectivity becomes a major stepping stone.

The immensely complex hardware and software in a highly automated vehicle connected to the outside world also opens the door to malicious attacks from hackers and spoofs. And that calls for future-proof design solutions that demonstrate safeguards against hacking and spoofing attacks.

Not surprisingly, the convergence of connected cars and self-driving vehicles significantly expands development, test, validation and verification requirements. And that makes it imperative for engineers to employ highly-integrated development frameworks for multiple system components like RF quality and protocol conformance.

Modular Test Solutions

Take the example of a V2X system that requires certification for radio frequency identification tags and readers in electronic toll collection systems. Here, design engineers must also ensure that this connected car application protects data privacy and prevents unauthorized access.

However, being a new technology, this could entail a higher cost for validation at different development stages. The testing of communication equipment supporting different regional V2X standards could also lead to the purchase of measurement instruments for each standard and design layer.

That is why test and prototype solutions based on modular hardware and software building blocks can prove more efficient and cost-effective, as they can explore new technologies, standards and architectural options (see Figure 2). Software defined radio (SDR)-based test solutions, in particular, are flexible and cheaper in the long run.

The following sections will show how modular hardware and flexible software can help create RF calibration and validation solutions for autonomous and connected vehicles. It will explain how these highly customized systems can validate embedded wireless technology in V2X communications designed to save lives on the road.

URLLC Experimental Testbed

The immense amount of compute power involved in autonomous and connected car designs may lead to the expanded use of flexible SDR platforms for tackling the increasing complexity of embedded software and the rising number of usage scenarios, especially when automotive engineers must carefully balance extreme-reliability demands with low-latency requirements.

It is a vital design consideration amid the massive breadth of inputs and outputs for multiple RF streams serving a diverse array of cameras and sensors in autonomous vehicles. Moreover, SDR platforms can efficiently validate connected vehicles’ RF links to each other and to roadside units for information regarding traffic and construction work.

That is why the ultra-reliable low-latency communications mechanism is becoming so critical in both V2X systems and autonomous vehicles. It boosts system capacity and network coverage by reporting 99.999% reliability with a latency of 1 ms.

The URLLC reference design, for instance, enables engineers to create physical layer mechanisms for different driving environments and then compares them via simulation to analyze trade-offs between latency and reliability. So, a real-time experimental testbed like this one can substitute for expensive and cumbersome on-road testing to prove that the vehicle is safe for autonomous driving and V2X communications.

Shanghai University has joined with National Instruments to create a URLLC experimental testbed for advanced V2X services like vehicle platooning. The URLLC reference design and vehicle-to-vehicle communication are built around National Instruments’ SDR-based hardware for rapid prototyping of mobile communication channels.

Vector Signal Transceiver

Another design platform worth mentioning in the context of AV connectivity and connected car technology is Vector Signal Transceiver (VST). It is a customizable platform that combines an RF and baseband vector signal analyzer and generator with a user-programmable field-programmable gate array (FPGA) and high-speed interfaces for real-time signal processing and control.

That enables comprehensive RF characteristic measurements and features like dynamic obstacle generation in a variety of road conditions. A VST system, for example, can simulate Doppler effect velocity from multiple angles or simulate scenarios such as a pedestrian walking across the street and a vehicle changing lanes.

It is another customized system that combines flexible, off-the-shelf hardware with a software development environment like LabVIEW to create user-defined prototyping and test solutions. That allows design engineers to transform VST into what they need it to be at the firmware level and address the most demanding development, test and validation challenges.

National Instruments introduced the first VST system in 2012 with an FPGA programmable with LabVIEW to accelerate design time and lower validation cost. Fast forward to 2019, the second-generation VST is ready to serve the autonomous and connected car designs where bandwidth and latency are crucial factors.

Automotive Testing’s Inflection Point

Industry observers call 2019 the year of V2X communications, while self-driving cars are still a work in progress. In the connected car realm, engineers are busy testing and validating the dedicated short-range communications-based vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure devices to ensure that the V2X communication will work all the time and in all possible scenarios.

It is clear that both connected cars and self-driving vehicles share similar imperatives: they must be trustworthy and they must be credible. What is also evident by now is that these high-tech vehicles require high-tech prototyping and validation tools.

That marks an inflection point in automotive design and validation where two manifestations of smart mobility are striving to make traffic safer and more efficient. And the industry demands efficient and cost-effective test and verification solutions for these rapidly expanding automotive markets.

If these systems are based on modular hardware and flexible software, they can be efficiently customized for the autonomous and connected car designs. More importantly, these verification arrangements can significantly lower the design cost at different development stages.

For more on V2X testing, go to National Instruments.

Operation ShadowHammer Exploited Weaknesses in the Software Pipeline

Post Syndicated from Fahmida Rashid original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/security/operation-shadowhammer-exploited-weaknesses-in-the-software-pipeline

Kaspersky security researchers described how hackers used software updates to push malware onto victims’ computers

When security researchers at Kaspersky Lab  disclosed Operation ShadowHammer in March, they described how attackers tampered with software updates from PC-maker ASUSTeK Computer to install malware on victims’ computers. Now, new details revealed last week indicate the operation was even more insidious—it sabotaged developer tools, an approach that could spread malware much faster and more discreetly than conventional methods.

In ShadowHammer, a sophisticated group of attackers modified an old version of the ASUS Live Update Utility software and pushed out the tampered copy to ASUS computers around the world, said Kaspersky Lab. The Live Update Utility, which comes preinstalled in most new ASUS computers, automatically updates the set of firmware instructions that control the computer’s input and output operations, hardware drivers, and applications. The modified tool, signed with legitimate ASUSTeK certificates and stored on official servers, looked like the real thing. But once it was planted, it gave the attackers the ability to control the computer through a remote server and install additional malware.

ShadowHammer is an “example of how sophisticated and dangerous a smart supply chain attack can be,” said Vitaly Kamluk, Kaspersky’s director of the global research and analysis team.

Floating Cell Towers Are the Next Step for 5G

Post Syndicated from Jeremy Hsu original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/internet/internet-balloons-and-drones-look-to-rise-in-the-5g-era

Terrestrial 5G networks will support high-altitude balloons and drones, and could someday merge with them

5G report logo, link to report landing page

As the world races to deploy speedy 5G mobile networks on the ground, some companies remain focused on floating cell towers in the sky. During the final session of the sixth annual Brooklyn 5G Summit on Thursday, Silicon Valley and telecom leaders discussed whether aerial drones and balloons could finally begin providing commercial mobile phone and Internet service from the air.

Terahertz Waves Could Push 5G to 6G

Post Syndicated from Michael Koziol original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/at-the-6th-annual-brooklyn-5g-summit-some-eyes-are-on-6g

At the Brooklyn 5G summit, experts said terahertz waves could fix some of the problems that may arise with millimeter-wave networks

5G report logo, link to report landing page

It may be the sixth year for the Brooklyn 5G Summit, but in the minds of several speakers, 2019 is also Year Zero for 6G. The annual summit, hosted by Nokia and NYU Wireless, is a four-day event that covers all things 5G, including deployments, lessons learned, and what comes next.

This year, that meant preliminary research into terahertz waves, the frequencies that some researcher believe will make up a key component of the next next generation of wireless. In back-to-back talks, Gerhard Fettweis, a professor at TU Dresden, and Ted Rappaport, the founder and director of NYU Wireless, talked up the potential of terahertz waves.

Boingo and Mettis Aerospace Test Wi-Fi 6 for Airports and Factories

Post Syndicated from Lucas Laursen original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/wireless/wifi6trial

A single Wi-Fi 6 access point can deliver high-speed, low-latency service to hundreds of users at once

An airport operator in California and a British aerospace manufacturer are among the first organizations to put Wi-Fi 6 networks to the test. Boingo Wireless has begun testing Wi-Fi 6 access points and compatible smartphones at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California, it announced earlier this month, while Mettis Aerospace says it will begin its own trial of the new protocol at its manufacturing facility in Redditch, England, in the second half of this year. 

“We’re still defining what the success criteria will be,” says Mettis IT head Dave Green, but the firm plans to test the next-generation of Wi-Fi for a few applications: collecting sensor data from machines on the factory floor, allowing staff to use augmented reality-enabled tablets to troubleshoot problems, and transmitting live video feeds from harder-to-reach areas on the factory floor. Green says they know these applications will require low latency—one of Wi-Fi 6’s improvements over its predecessor—and the ability to handle hundreds of simultaneous connections at once—another of the standard’s selling points.

Australia’s Troubled National Broadband Network Delivers a Fraction of What Was Promised

Post Syndicated from Michael Koziol original https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/internet/australias-troubled-national-broadband-network-delivers-a-fraction-of-what-was-promised

The newly elected government will inherit a floundering AUD $51 billion broadband network that’s providing slower service to fewer properties than planned

On 18 May, voters in Australia’s federal election will determine whether the Liberal-National Coalition will remain in control or the Australian Labor Party will win the government. Either way, the new leaders will have to contend with the National Broadband Network (NBN), a lumbering disaster that began as an ambitious effort by the Australian government to construct a countrywide broadband network.

When the NBN was first proposed in April 2009, the government aimed to build a fiber-optic network that would deliver connections of up to 100 megabits per second to 90 percent of Australian homes, schools, and workplaces within eight years. A decade later, however, the NBN has failed to deliver on that promise. NBN Co., the government-owned company created to construct and manage the network, now expects to deliver 50 Mb/s connections to 90 percent of the country by the end of 2020.

“None of the promises have ever been met,” says Rod Tucker, a telecommunications engineer and professor emeritus at the University of Melbourne. The watershed moment for the network was the 2013 federal election. That year, the Labor government that had championed the network was replaced by a conservative coalition government. The new government promptly reevaluated the NBN plan, taking issue with its projected cost.

The original plan, estimated to cost AU $43 billion, was a fiber-to-the-premise (or FTTP) plan. FTTP, as the name implies, requires threading fiber-optic cable to each and every building. The coalition government balked at the price tag, fired NBN Co.’s CEO, restructured the company, and proposed an alternative fiber-to-the-node (or FTTN) strategy, which was estimated to cost no more than AU $29.5 billion. The cost has now ballooned to more than AU $51 billion.

The reason an FTTN network theoretically costs less is because there’s less fiber to install. Rather than run fiber to every premise, FTTN runs fiber to centralized “nodes,” from which any number of technologies can then connect to individual premises. Fiber could be used, but more typically these last-mile connections are made with copper cabling.

The rationale behind the FTTN pivot was that there’s no need to lay fiber to homes and offices because copper landlines already connect those buildings. Unfortunately, copper doesn’t last forever. “A lot of the copper is very old,” says Mark Gregory, an associate professor of engineering at RMIT University, in Melbourne. “Some of it is just not suitable for fiber to the node.” Gregory says that NBN Co. has run into delays more than once as it encounters copper cabling near the end of its usable life and must replace it.

NBN Co. has purchased roughly 26,000 kilometers of copper so far to construct the network, according to Gregory—enough to wrap more than halfway around the Earth. Buying that copper added roughly AU $10 billion to the FTTN price tag, says Tucker. On top of that, NBN Co. is paying AU $1 billion a year to Telstra, the Australian communications company, for the right to use the last-mile copper that Telstra owns.

But perhaps the worst part is that even after the cost blowouts, the lackluster connections, and the outdated copper technology, there doesn’t seem to be a good path forward for the network, which will be obsolete upon arrival. “In terms of infrastructure,” says Gregory, “it’s pretty well the only place I know of that’s spent [AU] $50 billion and built an obsolete network.”

Upgrading the network to deliver the original connection speeds will require yet another huge investment. That’s because copper cables can’t compete with fiber-optic cables. To realize 100 Mb/s, NBN Co. will eventually have to lay fiber from all the nodes to every premise anyway. Gregory, for one, estimates that could cost NBN Co. an additional AU $16 billion, a hard number to swallow for a project that’s already massively over budget. “Fiber to the node is a dead-end technology in that it’s expensive to upgrade,” says Tucker, who also wrote about the challenges the NBN would face in the December 2013 issue of IEEE Spectrum.

After the federal election, the incoming government will have to figure out what to do with this bloated project. NBN Co. is far from profitable, and even if it was, it still owes billions of dollars to the Australian government. If the government does decide to bite the bullet and upgrade to FTTP, it will have to contend with other commercial networks now delivering equivalent speeds.

Had Australia delivered the NBN as originally promised, it would have been one of the fastest, most robust national networks in the world at the time. Instead, the country has watched its place in rankings of broadband speeds around the world continue to drop, says Tucker, while places like New Zealand, Australia’s neighbor “across the ditch,” have invested in and largely completed robust FTTP networks.

“It was an opportunity lost,” says Gregory.

This article appears in the May 2019 print issue as “Australia’s Fiber-Optic Mess.”

How the U.S. Can Prepare to Live in China’s 5G World

Post Syndicated from Jeremy Hsu original https://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/telecom/standards/how-america-can-prepare-to-live-in-chinas-5g-world

China’s first-mover advantage in deploying 5G networks capable of transforming national economies has major implications for the United States

5G report logo, link to report landing page

If you believe the triumphalist messaging from U.S. president Donald Trump’s White House and from the U.S. telecommunications industry, the United States is racing neck and neck with China in a global competition to roll out speedy 5G mobile networks. But the U.S. military’s premier advisory board of academic researchers and private sector technologists has warned that China’s front-runner position means it will likely win much of the world’s business in deploying 5G infrastructure and services. With that in mind, it has advised that the United States would be wise to adopt a strategy akin to “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”