Fast & Easy Friday Digest 8/3/18

Here is a collection of articles from this past week that recap the newest trends, advances, and news happening around the web in telecom, IoT and much more.

Internet of Things (IoT) Movement and Us Today

This article describes what the Internet of Things Movement is and where it has taken us today. In addition, it dives into IoT’s next steps to maintain a safe world and efficient world in the future. “The Internet of Things movement (IoT) is a movement that has started ever since there were computers and the internet. IoT connects the internet to a variety of devices that do not normally have the internet to enable them to do a variety of additional tasks or processes that were previously unimaginable and not done.” Check it out here.

 

Five IoT Predictions For 2019

In this article by Daniel Newman, five predictions that will impact both consumers and business are predicted on what will happen in 2019. “Vehicles, wearable gadgets, RFID sensors, and software are advancing past basic function and the network is growing to include even more advancements each day. I have more connected gadgets in my home this year than I did last and I’m sure I’m not alone. I’d also bet that these advancements will be even more commonplace in our homes, businesses and on the road in 2019.” Check out the full article here.

 

IoT Security Warning: Your Hacked Devices Are Being Used For Cyber Crime Says FBI 

Privacy and security are of the utmost concern for businesses and consumers alike. With billions of devices connected and the number of connected devices expected to grow in the future, it is important for networks and devices to remain secure. In this article by Danny Palmer, the dangers of unsecured devices are discussed. “Internet of Things devices including routers, IP cameras and even smart locks and connected doors are being targeted by cyber criminals who are looking to exploit them as a gateway for hacking and other cyber attacks, the FBI has warned.” Check out the full article here.

Internet of Things (IoT) Movement & Us Today

The Internet of Things movement (IoT) is a movement that has started ever since there were computers and the internet. IoT connects the internet to a variety of devices that do not normally have the internet to enable them to do a variety of additional tasks or processes that were previously unimaginable and not done.

Billions of devices are being connected to the internet from light bulbs that can be controlled by mobile phones to airplanes that can send diagnostic information while in flight there is something that in all parts of life, for consumers and for businesses that are connected to the internet.

Consumers and Businesses

Consumers can now experience connected devices in all parts of their home, and life. For example, waking up in the morning can activate a host of devices to start doing a variety of process that is enabled because of the internet. A timer in the mainframe of your house can activate an alarm clock to wake you up, turn the lights on, and even activate a coffee machine to have fresh coffee by the time you get to the kitchen.

Businesses across all verticals can experience benefits from the IoT movement. IoT has enabled remote monitoring of devices to enable the reading of sensors in hazardous locations from safe locations. Machine to Machine communication is possible due to the IoT movement. Machines are able to communicate with one another allowing autonomous actions.

An estimated 23 billion devices around the world are connected to the internet currently with and an estimated 75 billion devices to be connected to the internet by 2025 (Statista). This poses potential problems, with more devices connected to the internet and more devices to be connected in the future, infrastructure needs to be flexible and scalable to meet the demand for wireless connectivity. Additionally, both the devices and the networks they operate on a need to remain secure to provide protection and security to all threats.

Scalability

Advances in wireless infrastructure have enabled the current 23 billion devices to connect to connect to the internet. The future development of 5G wireless will enable more devices to be connected at the same time and will enable faster connects than currently available through LTE connections. Broadband wireless infrastructure in areas that are unable to be reached by fiber or cell service are currently able to match the demand for connectivity and is a scalable option for future growth. The growth in popularity of smart cities will enable more devices to be connected as fiber and wireless infrastructure increases.

Security

Many IoT devices capture large amounts of data from users or sensors, and this is streamed over the wireless connection. Security is a must to protect the sensitive information of users. As processing power increases and chips decrease in size IoT devices will be enabled to run additional programs to protect user data. Networks, both wireless and hard lined, enable higher broadband speeds and capacity. Network security through programs, AI, and monitoring will be essential to enable the safe usage of IoT devices.

Conclusion

IoT has enabled billions of devices to be connected to the internet and has allowed advancements for consumers and businesses to evolve. The infrastructure that supports these devices must remain flexible, scalable, and secure to meet future demands. As devices evolve, expand, and further develop they must enable their own security measures to ensure the protection of sensitive data created by end users.

Fast & Easy Friday Digest 7-27-18

Here is a collection of articles from this past week that recap the newest trends, advances, and news happening around the web in telecom, IoT and much more.

3 Ways First Responders Can Take Advantage of 5G and IoT

In this Article by Lindsay Notwell, three advantages of 5G are discussed that will benefit first responders “As first responders depend more on the Internet of Things technologies to carry out missions, new challenges for interoperable data communications are bound to emerge. The saving grace, however, may be that the IoT data flood is perfectly timed with the arrival of 5G networks, the fifth generation of cellular technology that promises to deliver speeds 10 times faster than 4G LTE and cut latency to milliseconds.” Check it out here.

Smart City Projects to Resolve Urban Areas’ Issues

Smart Cities are innovating to solve a variety of problems, remaining future-proof is key to a lasting investment. “Cities are getting more crowded. Already, more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas and this number is expected to increase to two thirds by 2050. With pressure increasing on public services and infrastructure, cities have been looking for innovative, future-proofing solutions.” (Albawaba). Read more here.

 

House of Representatives Passes Precision Agriculture Bill

Juan Tomas discusses a recently passed bill by the House of Representatives to provide funding and establish a task to develop broadband wireless for agricultural applications. “The legislation stipulates the creation of a task force to evaluate best ways to boost precision agriculture in American farms” Check it out here.

Fast & Easy Friday Digest 7-20-18

Here is a collection of articles from this past week that recap the newest trends, advances, and news happening around the web in telecom, IoT and much more.

Taking the Temperature of IoT for Healthcare

Fredric Paul discusses the current state of IoT in Healthcare in this post. “The Internet of Things (IoT) is full of promises to transform everything from transportation to building maintenance to enterprise security. But no field may have more to gain than the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers and device makers are all looking to the IoT to revolutionize the gathering of healthcare data and the delivery of care itself.” Check out the full article here.

5 Use Cases for Smart City IoT

In this article by Matt Leonard, five common applications are discussed about the capabilities of smart cities “Cities across the world are running internet-of-things pilots to gain insights that will them run more efficiently. A new white paper from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for the Development and Application of Internet of Things Technologies  takes an exhaustive look at the promise of these burgeoning technologies.” Check out the full article here.

Adaptive Technology Programs Turn Robotics and IoT to Help People Who Have Disabilities

David Kawamoto discusses some of the trends that states are funding to help citizens. This article further explores ways that IoT and Technology of Things movements are able to help people in the future. “Smart technologies, such as robotic telepresence and the Internet of Things (IoT), are capturing the attention of adaptive technology programs in state and local governments, as well as educational institutions, according to experts.” Check out the full article here.

Fast & Easy Friday Digest 7-13-18

Here is a collection of articles from this past week that recap the newest trends, advances, and news happening around the web in telecom, IoT and much more.

5G Forecast Force Owners to Prepare for Next-Gen Wireless

In an article by Kyle Campbell the future of 4G and 5G is explored. “An upcoming sea change in the wireless industry promises to optimize everything with a digital pulse, from phones, tablets, and watches to cars and even entire office towers. As carriers prepare the first wave of their fifth-generation, or 5G, cellular technologies, property owners are making sure their properties are ready, too, with extensive in-building networks.” Check it out here.

 

Five Key Trends in Telecom and Their Impact on Businesses

Craig Wigginton shares five trends from 5G to shifting consumer behaviors that will impact business. “Connectivity is an inseparable part of our daily lives and the telecom industry continues to evolve with the consumers’ needs and habits. Today, the industry is faced with a changing revenue stream with the revenue yield on data services continuing to decline as consumers use more and more data, with static or declining monthly bills. Hence, it is critical for the industry to identify rapid investment opportunities across the telecom portfolio—including fifth-generation wireless network technology (5G), Internet of Things (IoT), cross-industry partnerships (such as mHealth and mPayments), as well as a host of other growth opportunities.” Check it out here.

 

Why Image and Text Recognition Maybe Today’s Most Powerful RPA Tool

Peter Church discusses how technologies in image and text recognition are able to increase productivity among workers in today’s workforce. “This emerging form of technology uses artificial intelligence in order to recognize and identify different forms of data, including the actions taken by a user, the way someone interacts with different software, or just analyzing different data sources.” Check it out here.

Scientel Internship Experience

Lab Room

Internships are a key part in developing a well-rounded resume and in building experience while in college. Internships, additionally, shape and develop your professional character; without my internship at Scientel, I would not be the same person that I am in the workplace today.

The Scientel Internship challenged me in unique ways that are not possible in a classroom setting. I was challenged day in and day out on with issues in networking, security, information technology, and hardware. These challenges required me to work outside of my comfort-zone and research topic’s that I had never worked on before. This allowed me to get a feel for multiple sides of my field. I gained experience and knowledge that was irreplaceable. I was challenged in ways unlike any that are faced in the classroom, I was hands-on with equipment, troubleshooting unique problems.

One of the major things I learned during my internship, through experience, is that explaining the theory of how something works does not equate to having the practical knowledge to perform those tasks. Hands on experience with equipment problem solving is essential in developing your skills and knowledge. Nothing ever works exactly how its supposed to and no problem is ever the same, it is essential to have experience troubleshooting on equipment to a variety of different scenarios.

Lessons Learned

An important lesson is that when you get stuck with a difficult problem to not give up and immediately and find someone to help you solve the situation, sometimes there may not be someone with the answer. I learned that doing your own research and troubleshooting brings you the best long-term benefit. This does not mean you cannot ask for help but if you do not take the time to try and learn it yourself you will miss fundamental skills like problem-solving.

The experience from being able to work hands-on with equipment used in the industry is a huge advantage when entering the workplace. Many graduates have little to no practical experience upon graduation, this makes an internship extremely valuable. An internship experience is what makes an individual stand out from other graduates every year. Another benefit of having the internship was getting to experience multiple sides of the industry. I was able to experience the technical side, business side, and even the skilled labor that is required when moving and installing equipment.

In Conclusion

Being able to experience every part of the process helps make me more knowledgeable in my field and more confident in a variety of situations. I enjoyed being challenged while developing skills and experience during the duration of my Scientel internship and would recommend to anyone that is trying to get ahead in this field to consider seeking an internship.

The Importance of Change Management

CollaborationPicture this……  You run several large Managed Services contracts.  Your Network Operations Center (NOC) is responsible for monitoring and supporting first responder networks all across the country.  Of course, with a first responder network, lives are at stake and these networks cannot be down.  You have been involved from the beginning to ensure that there is redundancy to safeguard against exactly that.  It is now 2:00 a.m. because, of course, it is.  Network alarms seem to only happen overnight.  Your phone is blowing up with text messages, most from network devices and a few from the NOC technicians monitoring these networks.  The alerts and techs are warning of a substantial outage in one of those networks.

All backup devices are up and operating but your focus needs to be the primary devices.  You hop on the phone and start talking to the NOC techs.  They have done all the basic troubleshooting and cannot seem to reach the imperiled devices.  They are asking for approval to escalate internally to the engineering staff, while they contact the on-call customer to get a status and let them know of their issue.  Nobody is answering at the customer location.  You assume it is due to the fact the customer’s primary network is done.  Your engineers are also stumped as they cannot get to any of the devices either.  Even the backdoor interfaces you have installed and configured.

As you are the 3rd level of escalation, it is your responsibility to notify your management counterpart at the customer location.  Just as you are about to make that call, your first level NOC tech calls.  He is in contact with the customer and has just been made aware that they are doing scheduled maintenance.  Starting to feel relieved that there is no catastrophic issue going on there, you think about going back to sleep.  You look up at the clock and realize this whole exercise has taken 2 hours and it is almost time to get up for the day.  You make the coffee and begin to post-mortem.

With proper Change Management Processes

It’s 2:00 p.m. and you are heading into a customer’s Change Management meeting.  You attend this meeting via phone, once a month.  In this meeting, you discuss events that are planned regarding maintenance on the devices within that network.  Your customer announces that network-wide maintenance will occur on the regular 3rd Thursday of the month.  You note it for later reference.  The meeting goes as planned and you begin to prepare a Change Notification for your NOC staff to read and file in preparation for the outage.  The day of the actual work arrives.  Your NOC techs, by design, have switched off the monitoring tool for those specific devices that we know will be affected.  At the allotted time, the primary network is taken out of service.  Your NOC team knows this as they see the secondary devices begin to carry the network traffic.  The customer network team notifies you when they are completed and your team watches as the network nodes all return to green.  Your team then goes in and re-activates all the alarming.  Everything goes as planned and the network is back up and running on its primary devices.

So, what have we learned here?  If you want a good nights sleep and not to be making a pot of coffee at 3 a.m. preparing to tell a customer his primary network is down, create, participate and exchange information prior to any network work.  It is called Effective Change Management and it can make your life a whole lot more bearable.  Not to mention, a better night’s sleep.

What are botnets? How do they work?

Lines of Code

Over the last few years, malicious code, normally known as Malware has been around in some form or the other. Hackers have been breaking into computers over the Internet to leak sensitive information. The world has now been introduced to the concept of Botnets which have caused several security issues.

What exactly are Botnets?

Botnets are a group of computers which are infected with malware to take control of any device connected to the internet. They are like worms. They can be a combination of devices running different operating systems. Devices like cheap webcams, video recorders have little security settings. The hackers find it easy to take over such devices in no time and build huge botnets.

What are Botnets used for?

Botnets are commonly used in DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks. With the collective computing power from the infected systems, the botnets are highly capable of stealing sensitive information, malware propagation, disruption of the internet, sending spam and spying on individuals or organizations. Cyber criminals or Botmasters as they are called do not build these botnets only to compromise an individual computer. These are designed to infect millions of devices and bring a large network down. There are botnets that can self-propagate, find and infect devices automatically. They are constantly searching for vulnerable internet-connected devices that are lacking the operating system updates or antivirus and security settings.

They are used to commit click fraud. This is nothing but a scheme to fool the advertisers into thinking that people are clicking on their advertisement. Botnets spread due to downloading attachment links. Malicious software can be attached with illegal software or media downloads. When a user clicks on this link of the infected site, the botnet software gets downloaded and gets installed on the user system. Botnets can send spam messages to a million devices in a short period of time. Botnets destroy a large amount of data in the host system. Smart botnets have the capability of going offline for a period and come back again when the targets are not suspecting.

Botnet Attacks

Mirai botnet

The Mirai botnet was responsible for bringing down a large amount of internet traffic and has been said to be the largest of its kind in history. The servers of the company that controls the internets DNS infrastructure were affected by this botnet. It brought down critical sites including Twitter, Netflix, CNN and many others in the US and Europe. The internet outage was caused due to a DDoS attack. Unlike the other botnets that have been built to date by infecting many computer devices, this was largely made up of internet of things (IoT) devices like digital cameras and DVD players. The Mirai botnet mainly targeted these devices with weak or default passwords. Akamai has reported that Mirai is still around with two DDoS attacks of more than 100 Gbps.

 

A new botnet has now been discovered called Reaper which is said to be infecting the IoT devices at a much faster pace than Mirai did. This botnet has the capability to bring the entire internet down. Reaper has been known to affect D-link, Netgear, and Linksys.

Detection

Botnet detection is not an easy task as these have the capability of being dormant for a while and come back when the botmaster programs them to. Botnets try to disguise their origins. In most cases, the owners do not know that their systems have been infected and have become a part of a botnet.

The easiest way a user can find if his computer system has been affected is by using an anti-malware product. Also, the user can look at the processes that are running, the programs that are installed. These might reveal the presence of a botnet infection. But in most of the case, the detection is not so simple.

 

Prevention

As we all know Prevention is better than Cure, the users can prevent their systems from getting infected by following some steps. These can be implemented at an individual user level and at a network level as well.

Individual level:

  • Install anti-virus/ anti-spam software and keep them updated regularly.
  • Turn ON the Firewall settings and restrict unwanted access.
  • Make sure that the OS is updated from time to time.
  • Do not download illegal stuff like pirated music, games, files etc from the internet.
  • Do not click on attachments or links from unknown email messages.


 

Network Level:

  • Have Firewall, IDS/IPS systems, and content filtering in place.
  • Monitoring unusual increase in traffic.
  • Have DDoS protection in place.
  • If individual user systems have been suspected of being botnet infected, try to remove the malware software immediately. If this is not done in time, the other systems in the network might get infected as well.
  • Make sure that all individuals in the company have their systems with the updated software.
  • Monitor firewall logs to identify botnet command and control centers.
  • If any infection has been identified, notify the anti-virus vendors immediately.

 

Take away points

Running anti-malware software on user systems is the basic way to prevent botnet attacks. The most effective way to fight botnets is to be vigilant and be aware of this threat. Keep your systems updated. Help your coworkers to understand the effects of a botnet attack. Make sure you stay away from clicking on unknown email links and attachments. We need to help everyone realize that if one computer gets infected, it might cause harm to the entire network.

With the increase in the IoT and more and technological advancements, the potential of such botnet attacks and their power also increases. Taking preventive action will protect us, our company network, our identity, devices, and data.

 

 

 

 

Basics of Troubleshooting – What you need to know before you ask

Troubleshooting
In any given profession there will always be a time where something goes wrong, some tool malfunction, or something that you’ve used every day seems to act differently. In today’s world, most of the time the problem is computer related. We’ve come to depend on these devices and their functionalities, whether it’s a laptop, cellphone, or server service.  It often causes frustration and loss of productivity when they fail.

What to do when everything goes wrong?

When this happens what’s the first thing you do? Call IT? Call a friend? Throw it away? This is the first step to really learning and understanding the tools we use every day. What do we do when it goes wrong? In most cases the best thing to do is the good ol’ standby…reboot. If it’s electronic and has an operating system running on it there’s a good chance that forcing a reboot will help the issue. If not, then you need to look further.

Determine the issue

Since the reboot did not work, think about the issue being experienced. Is it application related – does another program/app work? Is it network related – does the device itself work but you can’t access the web or any of your services? Is it hardware related – does the device seem “stuck”? Is it working but you can’t launch any applications? Drilling down into the issue and determining what’s happening rather than just that something happened is key. Once you have narrowed down the issue to one of the general buckets (application/network/hardware/operating system) it will allow you to move onto the next phase of the troubleshooting process.

Troubleshooting

The next step would be to try to use a search engine to try to troubleshoot, if available. There is a wealth of knowledge on the web and most likely the issue you are facing will have been documented already. The trick to troubleshooting on the web is to describe the issue accurately. For example, if you have an error message on your computer with an error number. Don’t just search for the error number, rather search for the entire message that’s displayed as well as the name of the application you were trying to use and the operating system running. It seems like a lot to type into a search bar but the more you have describing the issue, the more likely you are to find exactly what you are looking for in the first page of results.

After all of this you may still have the issue and need to call into IT or someone else knowledgeable on the equipment. It is very important that you articulate to that individual what is happening just as you described in the search online. The more information you have up front, the better your chances are to get resolution from the technical representative you are working with. Make sure to describe what you were doing when the problem occurred, or what you were attempting to do, and what happened. However, please try not to get too upset when they ask you to reboot.

Wi-Fi Standards: Past, Present and Future – What They Mean to You

Back of Wi-Fi Router“Wi-Fi” is now such a commonly used term, people don’t give it much thought, other than knowing they can get their Internet through wireless. Across America in homes,  airports and coffee shops, people are looking to connect their laptops, tablets, phones and other devices to the nearest wi-fi network.  But what is “Wi-Fi”, and where is it going in the future?

Wi-Fi has its origins in a 1985 ruling by the FCC, that released the ISM Band (2.4 & 5 GHz)  for unlicensed use.  Beginning in 1997, the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) developed a wireless standard known as 802.11 by which data can be communicated over a wireless link.  Since that time, there have been a number of amendments to this standard, each with increasing speeds and improved coverage capabilities.

The earliest standards were 802.11a and 802.11b, running at frequencies of 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz respectively.  By year 2000, the 802.11b was most common, with peak throughput bandwidth of 11 Mbps. In 2003, the 802.11g standard was developed that increased bandwidth speeds to a peak 54 Mbps.

Forward on to 2009 was the advent of 802.11n, a dual-band standard that runs at both 2.4 and 5 GHz.  This time the peak bandwidth speeds increased to 600 Mbps. Jump to 2014, then 802.11ac hit the market with potential speeds up to 3 Gbps. The introduction of the “ac” standard was the first time the “MIMO” antenna technology was used – Multiple In, Multiple Out.  This multiplies capacity of the radios by transmitting different signals over multiple antennas. An addition to the “ac” standard is called   “Wave 2”, which introduces a modulation method known as OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing).  OFDM converts 1 high-speed data channel into multiple parallel lower-speed channels.  This results in better coverage and longer-distance reception. As this article is written in the beginning of 2018, this is the wi-fi standard of today.

What does the future hold?

Behold the newest commercial  wi-fi standard, 802.11ax. What is so special about “ax”?

The new 802.11ax dual-band standard is designed to improve spectral efficiency, especially in dense deployment areas. The most notable thing about “ax” is the dramatic jump in speed, at up to 4X the rate of “ac”, for a peak bandwidth of 10.5 Gbps. So ax has two major things going for it – better coverage in dense wi-fi areas, and much higher speeds.  The “ax” wi-fi gear will be publicly available on the market in early 2019.

 

Other Interesting Future Wi-Fi Standards

What about all this talk of Internet of Things (IoT)? How do you connect refrigerators, thermostats, dishwashers, and a host of other devices to the network?  Say hello to 802.11ah.  This is known as Wi-Fi HaLow.  It runs in the 900 MHz frequency for easy penetration through walls. It has lower power consumption and wider range than standard wi-fi, designed to connect to IoT devices. It is also used for Smart Meters, M2M (machine-to-machine) and rural communications.

Want to have the latest Home Theater setup?  Give 802.11ad a try. This standard is extremely high frequency millimeter-wave, running at 60 GHz.  With bandwidth throughput of 7 Gbps, it is designed to provide wireless audio and video streaming for home theatre systems, office devices, displays, and other uses.  It only goes short distances and will not penetrate through walls.  But 802.11ad is positioned to play a big role in home theatre systems in the future.

Of course there are other wireless standards on the roadmap for the future, including 802.11az running at 60 GHz to be introduced in 2021.

With every passing year the speeds keep getting faster and the coverage capabilities better.  Do you have an idea of what you want in your future wi-fi? Submit your ideas to the IEEE, as they are interested in hearing them.

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