Ransomware: The News Is Always Bad

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    A study by Booz Allen Hamilton says that Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, which manage critical infrastructure, are becoming targets of ransomware.

    The report is full of bad news for industrial control system (ICS) operators. Attacks are increasing: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responded to 295 incidents last year, which was a 15 percent increase over 2014. The arc in the evolution of cybercrime is always toward less expensive, more sophisticated and more accessible exploits. The study, which was reported upon at Dark Reading, shows that the tendency continues:

    Among the several emerging challenges for owners of industrial control systems identified in the report are ransomware and the emergence of SCADA access as a service. Booz Allen Hamilton defines SCADA access services as entities that specialize in finding zero-day flaws in industrial control networks, developing exploits for them and then selling that as a service to those interested in gaining unauthorized access to third-party ICS networks.

    Two segments were targets of almost half of the exploits: The critical manufacturing industry was targeted in 97 of the incidents (33 percent), while the energy industry was targeted in 46 of the incidents (16 percent).

    IoT: Here Are the Seven Deadly Things

    The Internet of Things (IoT) clearly has a huge upside. It does, however, raise very serious issues and challenges for users and network operators. Datamation’s Bruce Byfield highlighted what he perceives as the top seven.

    The IoT’s use cases are unclear; open standards have not yet emerged and its energy demands will be massive. In addition, the IoT will accelerate device obsolescence and, thus, drive high levels of electronic waste. The demand for data storage capacity will skyrocket. Finally, the two biggest issues, lack of privacy and security fears, abound.

    5G Tests Results: It’s Fast

    5G indeed is fast. WirelessWeek says that Sprint and Ericsson, which tested the coming wireless platform during the Copa America soccer tournament, reached speeds of 4 gigabits per second (Gbps) while streaming 4K video. The test, which was conducted on 15 GHz of spectrum, was held in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

    Sprint previously ran a test with Nokia at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Using 73 GHz of spectrum, the companies live-streamed 4K video and virtual reality. Throughput reached 2.3 Gbps.

    HPE Prototypes a Computer that Thinks Like a Brain

    Gradually, it seems that the difference between human and machine intelligence seems to be fading. There may be some theoretical distinction, but the ability of machines to make decisions as we do seems to be growing over time.

    Computerworld reports that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has prototyped a computer that operates like a brain:

    HPE’s ultimate goal is to create computer chips that can compute quickly and make decisions based on probabilities and associations, much like how the brain operates. The chips will use learning models and algorithms to deliver approximate results that can be used in decision-making.

    Brains really are biological machines that do a massive amount of parallel processing. HPE hopes to mimic that behavior and combine it with its new memristors storage and memory technology.

    Millennials Like Video

    Research from Parks Associates offers interesting results on over-the-top (OTT) penetration. The firm found that 23 percent of millennials who head households subscribe to broadband-based OTT. The national average of such OTT subscribers is 15 percent. Sixty-one percent of millennials take both OTT and pay television; the national average is 52 percent.

    Parks found that 64 percent of broadband households subscribe to OTT, which is a 4 percent increase from last year. Monthly spending on Internet-based subscription video-on-demand services rose from $3.71 in 2012 to $6.19 last year.

    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 and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.
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