Vulnerabilities in the national grids and the potential for wide-scale outages has rasied concerns over the past few years as high-profile companies have gone public with highly sophisticated hacking attempts. MIT‘s Technology Review reported on GridCOM Technologies, a startup which recently secured seed funding from Ellis Energy Investment which says quantum cryptography can make the electricity
Sprint Nextel (S) said the shutdown of its Nextel iDEN network to make room for LTE will result in nearly 30,000 iDEN installations taken off air. FierceBroadbandWireless explains that Sprint has deployed FDD-LTE using 1900 MHz Band 25 spectrum, where it holds two 5 MHz channels in the G band adjacent to PCS spectrum. The
TechEye reports that Chinese government switched off the Internet last week. According to the article, the Chinese government flipped its kill switch on the great firewall of China when it became concerned that some citizens might remember the 24th anniversary of the massacre of protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Apparently China has decided that the best
“Pizza printer” is all I need to hear know that the idea of 3D printed food (which I originally covered back in 2010) has taken hold. Wesley Fenlon at Tested, wrote about NASA‘s attempts to develop a Star Trek Replicator by using 3D printers to create the space foods of the future. Tested explains NASA is
In the aftermath of the many Sony data breaches, the firm faces 58 class action lawsuits. In addition to the lawsuits, Sony (SNE) has a cyber-liability coverage problem. Help Net Security writes that an unexpected development could throw a wrench in Sony’s plans to reduce their losses. The article explains that Zurich American Insurance Company, one
Vulnerabilities in the national grids and the potential for wide-scale outages has rasied concerns over the past few years as high-profile companies have gone public with highly sophisticated hacking attempts. MIT‘s Technology Review reported on GridCOM Technologies, a startup which recently secured seed funding from Ellis Energy Investment which says quantum cryptography can make the electricity grid control systems secure.
Dr. Duncan Earl the chief technology officer of GridCOM Technologies told TR he plans to use the start-up money to build a prototype quantum encryption system designed specifically for the electricity grid. The company’s hope is to demonstrate a working system working next year near its home base in San Diego. Utilities would pay about $50 a month for access to a software service and hardware that encrypt critical communications in an area.
With GridCOM Technologies, Dr. Earl is trying to make critical infrastructure more secure by encrypting data send to grid control systems. The article explains that traditional encryption techniques can’t work at the low latency speeds—measured in milliseconds–required for SCADA systems, which leaves them vulnerable to attack. CTO Earl is an expert in optical technologies who worked for the Cyberspace Sciences and Information Intelligence Research group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and helped spin out an optical lighting company in 2006.
GridCOM Technology’s system works by generating two photons using a laser and storing them in optical fiber cables. These twin photons each have an opposition polarization—either a wave oscillating up and down or left and right, Dr. Duncan explained to the author, Martin LaMonica. According to quantum mechanics, if one tries to measure these photons, it will change the state of the other and the photons are no longer “entangled.” This phenomenon allows a communications system to detect if a message has been intercepted.
According to the article, the firm’s service would create an encryption key based on the arrangement of the photon pair. A hardware receiver posts that information on the Internet and the company’s hosted software will poll those devices. A subscriber to the service will be able validate that communications haven’t been tampered and encrypt messages, Mr. Duncan says. “You’ve got physics that is ultimately securing the device, not mathematics. Mathematical complexity has been a great tool for encryption but it’s not future proof,” he told TR.
GridCOM’s Duncan says a key advantage of the system, is that it works quickly, a necessity for SCADA systems. “You’ve eliminated the possibility of somebody eavesdropping to hack the key. There’s no data latency and you’ve leveraged a random bit stream … That’s really all the grid needs.”
One of the main limitations is that the cryptography is only point-to-point over a fiber cable and can’t work across switching equipment over the Internet. In GridCOM Technology’s case, the system is limited to 20 kilometers in distance. GridCOM’s CTO envisions that utilities will put a series of hardware receivers in secured buildings to encrypt communications for a whole region.There are already a number of efforts to build commercial quantum encryption systems GigaOm reported on the success that the scientists at Los Alamos have had running a quantum network for over two years and ID Quantique in Switzerland.
TR concludes that quantum encryption offers one promising route to securing the grid, but it shouldn’t be seen as a silver bullet. If it works, it would address one very specific application but securing something as complex as the power grid requires a full suite of options and above all good security practices.
Smart Grid Today provides (PDF) some background. Quantum physics was first described in a 1935 paper that included Albert Einstein as an author. Erwin Schrödinger coined the quantum term “entanglement” and that was the basis for his famous thought experiment of a cat that exists simultaneously in a state of being alive and dead.
Sprint Nextel (S) said the shutdown of its Nextel iDEN network to make room for LTE will result in nearly 30,000 iDEN installations taken off air. FierceBroadbandWireless explains that Sprint has deployed FDD-LTE using 1900 MHz Band 25 spectrum, where it holds two 5 MHz channels in the G band adjacent to PCS spectrum. The carrier’s Band 26 800 MHz spectrum is currently used for CDMA as well as end-of-life iDEN service. Sprint will gain another two 5 MHz channels for LTE once it shutters its iDEN network on June 30 and repurposes that 800 MHz spectrum for LTE.
According to Sprint, its last full day of iDEN service will be June 29. Sprint said it will close switch locations “in rapid succession on June 30,” after which equipment will be powered down and backhaul at each cell site will be eliminated. Tens of thousands of iDEN cell sites will be deconstructed and taken off air. Sites where CDMA and LTE equipment are colocated will be left intact, minus the iDEN gear, said Sprint.
The 100 million pounds of leftover iDEN network gear and other materials that will result from the shutdown includes cables, batteries, radios, server racks, antennas, air conditioners and other equipment, much of which is being staged for recycling vendors. Most concrete shelters housing iDEN cell sites will be crushed and turned into composite for roads and bridges, said Sprint.
The iDEN recycling project is expected to continue into early 2014. “Recycling a nationwide wireless network is a huge undertaking, but one that we’re committed to,” said Bob Azzi, senior vice president-network. “The company has earned a reputation for environmental stewardship.The iDEN recycling effort extends our commitment.”
The market for used iDen equipment is pretty limited. GigaOm points out that iDEN is a dying technology, and Nextel was the world’s largest iDEN carrier. iDEN’s sole manufacturer, Motorola Solutions, still supports the technology and a handful of operators in North and South America, as well as Asia, still use it.
The recycling and reusing move isn’t just about PR. GigaOm says that Sprint can save significant money by reusing its tech, and could make money from recycling, if it sells the scrap to a waste vendor. There are also some state laws that require recycling of certain types of e-waste, particularly substances that could be a hazardous material that could seep into a landfill.
TechEye reports that Chinese government switched off the Internet last week. According to the article, the Chinese government flipped its kill switch on the great firewall of China when it became concerned that some citizens might remember the 24th anniversary of the massacre of protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
Apparently China has decided that the best way to commemorate the massacre is by declaring 4 June “internet maintenance day” when all loyal communists spend the day updating their servers while remaining unconnected to the net. According to the author, the government switched off the Internet so that the loyal network managers would not bothered by too much net traffic.
Those sites under maintenance include blogs and websites that might want to remember 4 June for reasons other than being a patch Tuesday. The Washington Post speculates the Chinese government’s “fool’s errand” of censoring the memory of Tiananmen Square, is due in part to last years Arab Spring. The article maintains that shutting down websites and censoring rubber duckies and Lego’s is part of Beijing’s reaction to the Arab Spring.
Despite the Internet shut-down TechEye reports that some sites were allowed to stay up. The Twitter-like Sina Weibo was working, as were the Chinese operations for MSN and Yahoo. For some reason the dictionary website WordKu.com offered just one page: a definition for the word “encore”.
I hope I’m not the only one that recognizes the ironic timing of the revelations of the Obama administration’s massive domestic spying campaign and the Tiananmen Square anniversary.
“Pizza printer” is all I need to hear know that the idea of food (which I originally covered back in 2010) has taken hold. Wesley Fenlon at Tested, wrote about NASA‘s attempts to develop a Star Trek Replicator by using 3D printers to create the space foods of the future. Tested explains NASA is still a long way from replicating, Tea, Earl Gray, Hot but they are paying attention to the prospect of 3D printed food.
The article says the space organization recently awarded a $125,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to Anjan Contractor, at Systems and Materials Research Corporation in Austin, TX, to develop a universal food synthesizer. The NASA grant, according to Tested, is for a 3D printer that could supply food to astronauts on long trips. The first demo would probably be on the International Space Station and then spread to a lunar colony or an expedition to Mars.
But what is most important to 99.9% of us that will never get into space, and long-term business case of 3D food printers is the pizza printer. In an article, Quartz, reports that, “Contractor’s ‘pizza printer’ is still at the conceptual stage, and he will begin building it within two weeks.” The Quartz article describes how the pizza printer would work, “It works by first ‘printing’ a layer of dough, which is baked at the same time it’s printed, by a heated plate at the bottom of the printer. Then it lays down a tomato base, ‘which is also stored in a powdered form, and then mixed with water and oil,’ says Contractor. Finally, the pizza is topped with the delicious-sounding ‘protein layer, which could come from any source, including animals, milk or plants.”
Contractor’s vision for 3D printed food is now centered around space applications, but his eventual goal is to end food waste here on Earth. “He sees a day when every kitchen has a 3D printer, and the earth’s 12 billion people feed themselves customized, nutritionally appropriate meals synthesized one layer at a time, from cartridges of powder and oils they buy at the corner grocery store,” writes Quartz.
Should this work out, I can see a huge business opportunity to disrupt a lot of markets. One in every dorm room, several in each break room at work. In wonder what Michigan based Dominos (DPZ) and Little Ceasers pizza’s think about home printed pizza?
What do you think? Can a 3D pizza printer change the world?
In the aftermath of the many Sony data breaches, the firm faces 58 class action lawsuits. In addition to the lawsuits, Sony (SNE) has a cyber-liability coverage problem. Help Net Security writes that an unexpected development could throw a wrench in Sony’s plans to reduce their losses. The article explains that Zurich American Insurance Company, one of Sony’s insurers, has petitioned the Supreme Court of New York to exonerate it from compensating Sony for the losses that it might incur if it looses any of the many lawsuits being filed against it due to the recent breaches.
According to Computerworld, this situation has highlighted, in cases of cyber attacks and data breaches insurance has become a separate coverage not included in the General Liability policy. Also, the companies need to look carefully at what a cyber-liability insurance policy includes, since it often covers the cost of recreating lost data but rarely the costs that stem from the breach, such as legal expenses and data notification costs.
According to Alan Paller, director of research at the SANS Institute, there are very few insurance companies whose cyber-liability insurance policy includes those costs. And with those who do, the high premiums and limited payouts – not to mention that the onus to prove that they have made an adequate effort to keep intruders out rests with the company – make many businesses decide against it.
I covered this wrinkle in cyber-insurance back in 2011, here. Proper risk management includes planning for events and how to mitigate those events. Does your firm have cyber liability coverage? Does it even know its general from its cyber liability coverages?
- Cyber Liability Coverage – Is it needed? (insurewise.wordpress.com)