Vulnerabilities Run Rampant in Robots

Carl Weinschenk

Cue the sinister music and close-ups on people in various states of horror: The machines indeed may be able to take over.

In this scenario, however, the rise of the machines will be abetted by hackers. IOActive this week released a paper that points to “numerous vulnerabilities found in multiple home, business, and industry robots.” The tools to interfere with the machines are on the market today, the paper says. The company doesn’t sugar coat the depth of the problem:

Attackers could employ the issues found to maliciously spy via the robot’s microphone and camera, leak personal or business data, and in extreme cases, cause serious physical harm or damage to people and property in the vicinity of a hacked robot.

The researchers tested robots from SoftBank Robotics, UBTECH Robotics, ROBOTIS, Universal Robots, Rethink Robotics and Asratec Corp. The initial research alone identified almost 50 vulnerabilities, the company said.


AT&T 2017 CAPEX: $22 Billion

At Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, AT&T said that its capital expenditures for this year will be $22 billion, which would put its two-year spending at $40 billion. More than 40 percent of that will be dedicated to smart, agile, mobile and integrated business solutions, according to Light Reading.

The investment is both domestic and international. It will include expansion of NetBond, the carrier’s network-on-demand, and its software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) services. AT&T also will build out its Threat Intellect security platform. That is a good idea, since the company said that attacks on its Internet on Demand (IoT) infrastructure increased 400 percent during the first half of last year.

Tenth Anniversary iPhone a Good Time to Reflect

The release of the 10th anniversary iPhone, reportedly with a curved Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) screen, marks a good time to think about the arc of the smartphone's evolution. For the lion’s share of the past decade, new phones were eagerly awaited as significant and exciting innovations were regularly made. New iPhones were news making events.

A few years ago, however, the pace slowed as compelling new features became increasingly difficult to dream up. The focus gradually shifted to providing useful, albeit less exciting, devices to users in countries with developing economies. This worked well with the rise to dominance of the Android operating system.

The flexible OLED screen is a reminder of how exciting smartphone innovation used to be. It’s not that developers are less creative than they used to be. It’s that the best ideas are taken.

New NY Broadband Awards Almost $212 Million to ISPs

New York State has awarded almost $212 million in funding to promote broadband access to areas of the state with poor or no coverage.

The New NY Broadband awards began in 2015. Those getting the grants, according to Telecompetitor, must provide 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) downstream to most areas; downstream speeds of 25 Mbps downstream will suffice in rural areas.

Armstrong Telecommunications, which garnered $48 million to bring service to 16,545 locations, is the biggest winner in round two. It was followed by FairPoint ($36.7 million), Frontier ($29.9 million), New Visions Communications ($11.3 million) and TDS ($11.1 million). Phase three of the program will award an additional $170 million.

Windstream: Half of Its Customer Base Will Get Access to 25 Mbps Service

During its fourth quarter conference call, Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said that when the carrier finishes its Project Excel expansion during its first quarter, it will be capable of providing speeds of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) to half of its customer base, according to FierceTelecom.

Thomas said that the capability is particularly noteworthy because much of its footprint is in rural areas. These areas are typically underserved by major carriers. The move would represent quite an upgrade for many of the customer base. Thomas said that 89 percent of Windstream’s subscribers now have speeds of less than 25 Mbps. Increasing those speeds will improve customer satisfaction and reduce churn, he said.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

 



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