One of the many frightening cyber threats making headlines is the possibility that terrorists or an enemy nation will create chaos by cracking the industrial control system/ supervisory control and data acquisition (ICS/SCADA) systems that run utilities and other large infrastructure entities.
This, of course, could be catastrophic. Richard Clarke, who was the U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counterterrorism and an advisor to three administrations, delivered a keynote this week at the S4 conference in Miami that called on a “Y2K”-like initiative to tighten these ICS/SCADA systems.
Though the threats are new, the resistance is familiar. Light Reading quotes Clarke, who is now Chairman of the Good Harbor consultancy, as saying that it is not an easy sell:
Clarke's regulation recommendation would address a major challenge faced by ICS/SCADA operators: getting the budget and resources to protect industrial control systems from damaging cyberattacks requires convincing upper management or Boards of Directors to plan for the unexpected or never-before seen incidents, Clarke said.
Sparse Month for Microsoft Patches
Release of patches is sometimes a big deal for Microsoft. On occasion, dozens were released at a time. That is quite a contrast to the first Microsoft patch release of 2017, when only three vulnerabilities were addressed. Actually, four security bulletins were covered. One, however, was for Flash and was just distributed by Microsoft.
Only one was critical, for Microsoft Office and Office Services and Web Apps. The patch is for a memory corruption vulnerability that, according to PC World, “can be exploited by tricking users to open specially crafted files and can lead to remote code execution.”
Giuliani: America’s Cyber Security Expert
This week, President-elect Donald Trump named supporter and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as the bridge between the administration and the business community.
The story on the appointment doesn’t cite a specific title. Giuliani, who had been considered for the Secretary of State post, will meet with technology experts and corporate leaders on security issues.
Giuliani is quoted as telling Fox News that cybersecurity answers are best found in the private sector. For the past year, Giuliani has been the cyber security chair for the Greenberg Traurig law firm.
Alphabet Abandons One Coverage Project, Maintains Another
One of the more innovative ideas of the past few years is the use of drones to help with connectivity in areas without access to traditional coverage technology.
eWeek reports that one company looking at a variation of this idea has called it quits, at least for one approach it was considering. Google’s Alphabet has a “semi-secret X division” that has pulled the plug on Operation Titan. The project was aimed at providing services to “remote, poorly served and disaster areas.”
The project traced its roots to Titan Aerospace, which Google acquired three years ago. Employees from that company still with Google have been reassigned within X. The concept is far from dead at Alphabet, however:
X has not entirely abandoned its plans to deliver Internet services using cell towers floating in the sky. But instead of using drones as it had planned to with Project Titan the focus now is on Project Loon, a separate and ongoing initiative involving the use of high-altitude hot air balloons.
The importance that Google puts on achieving this goal is illustrated by the fact that it had two initiatives aimed at the same goal, ongoing, in parallel. Project Loon is the concept that is still aloft.
Verizon Achieves NG-PON2 Interoperability
One of the important steps in the evolution of any technology is proving that it can interoperate with equipment from different vendors. That is, after all, a key to successful commercialization.
Verizon has demonstrated Next Generation Passive Optical Network 2 (NG–PON2) interoperability. Light Reading says that without such interoperability, customers would be restricted to using the same vendor for both the optical line terminals and optical network terminals.
The drive to create interoperability is a change from the previous big change, which was from Broadband Passive Optical Networks to Gigabit Passive Optional Networks (BPON to GPON). The interoperability tests featured Adtran, Broadcom, Cortina Access and Ericsson AB.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.