The fifth generation of mobile communications technology will see the end of the “cell” as the fundamental building block of communication networks.
It may seem as if the fourth generation of mobile communications technology has only just hit the airwaves. But so-called 4G technology has been around in various guises since 2006 and is now widely available in metropolitan areas of the US, Europe and Asia.
It’s no surprise then that communications specialists are beginning to think about the next revolution. So what will 5G bring us?
Today we get some interesting speculation from Federico Boccardi at Alcatel-Lucent’s Bell Labs and a number of pals. These guys have focused on the technologies that are most likely to have a disruptive impact on the next generation of communications tech. And they’ve pinpointed emerging technologies that will force us to rethink the nature of networks and the way devices use them.
The first disruptive technology these guys have fingered will change the idea that radio networks must be made up of “cells” centred on a base station. In current networks, a phone connects to the network by establishing an uplink and a downlink with the local base station.
That looks likely to change. For example, an increasingly likely possibility is that 5G networks will rely on a number of different frequency bands that carry information at different rates and have wildly different propagation characteristics.
So a device might use one band as an uplink at a high rate and another band to downlink at a low rate or vice versa. In other words, the network will change according to a device’s data demands at that instant.
At the same time, new classes of devices are emerging that communicate only with other devices: sensors sending data to a server, for example. These devices will have the ability to decide when and how to send the data most efficiently. That changes the network from a cell-centric one to a device-centric one.
“Our vision is that the cell-centric architecture should evolve into a device-centric one: a given device (human or machine) should be able to communicate by exchanging multiple information flows through several possible sets of heterogeneous nodes,” say Boccardi and co.
Another new technology will involve using millimetre wave transmissions, in addition to the microwave transmission currently in use. Boccardi and co say that the microwave real estate comes at a huge premium. There is only about 600MHz of it. And even though the switch from analogue to digital TV is freeing up some more of the spectrum, it is relatively little, about 80MHz, and comes at a huge price.
So it’s natural to look at the longer wavelengths and higher frequencies of millimetre wave transmissions ranging from 3 to 300 GHz. This should provide orders of magnitude increases in bandwidth.
But it won;t be entirely smooth going. The main problem with these frequencies is their propagation characteristics—the signals are easily blocked by buildings, heavy weather and even by people themselves as they move between the device and the transmitter.
But it should be possible to mitigate most problems using advanced transmission technologies, such as directional antennas that switch in real time as signals become blocked. “Propagation is not an insurmountable challenge,” they say.
Next is the rapidly developing multiple input-multiple output or MIMO technology. Base stations will be equipped with multiple antennas that transmit many signals at the same time. What’s more, a device may have multiple antennas to pick up and transmit several signals at once. This dramatically improves the efficiency with which a network can exploit its frequencies.
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Source: MIT Technology Review
The HP study focused purely on custom business apps, but there’s no reason to believe the issue doesn’t extend to commercial apps you find in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Many apps have access to data or permission to perform functions they shouldn’t.
If you want to play a game like Angry Birds, there’s no reason that it needs to have access to your contacts, and A a weather app probably doesn’t need to be able to send email on your behalf. The security risks in apps go beyond permissions, though. There are issues in how the apps integrate with core functions of the mobile operating system, as well as how they interact with and share information with one another.
In the HP study, 97 percent of the apps contained some sort of privacy issue. HP also found that 86 percent of the apps lack basic security defenses, and 75 percent fail to properly encrypt data. Assuming similar percentages across the hundreds of thousands of consumer apps in the app stores, it’s likely that you have a few security or privacy concerns floating around your smartphone or tablet.
But this isn’t about malicious apps designed to steal your data. It’s mostly a function of lazy coding. Developers write apps that access everything because it’s easier than writing more specific code, and it also paves the way for any future enhancements that might actually need it.
In a BYOD scenario these security and privacy risks are exaggerated for both the employer and the employee. In most cases, the line between business and personal is not clearly defined, and apps can easily blur that line and put both company and personal data at risk. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that apps are impulse purchases for many users, thanks to low prices and easy installation.
The mobile operating systems have improved in terms notifying users about the permissions an app is requesting and providing the user with more control to allow or block access to specific functions. But the system still puts too much burden on the user, both to know those controls exist and how to use them, as well as to understand the implications and security concerns of the apps.
The better solution is for developers to build security and privacy into the apps from square one. Developers should be aware of the potential implications of how their apps access data and interact with other apps, and design them to be secure by default.
Via: Network World
Two million logins and passwords from services such as Facebook, Google and Twitter have been found on a Netherlands-based server, part of a large botnet using controller software nicknamed “Pony.”
Another company whose users’ login credentials showed up on the server was ADP, which specializes in payroll and human resources software, wrote Daniel Chechik, a security researcher with Trustwave’s SpiderLabs.
It’s expected that cybercriminals will go after main online services, but “payroll services accounts could actually have direct financial repercussions,” he wrote.
ADP moved US$1.4 trillion in fiscal 2013 within the U.S., paying one in six workers in the country, according to its website.
Facebook had the most stolen credentials, at 318,121, followed by Yahoo at 59,549 and Google at 54,437. Other companies whose login credentials showed up on the command-and-control server included LinkedIn and two Russian social networking services, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki. The botnet also stole thousands of FTP, remote desktop and secure shell account details.
It wasn’t clear what kind of malware infected victims’ computers and sent the information to the command-and-control server.
Trustwave found the credentials after gaining access to an administrator control panel for the botnet. The source code for the control panel software, called “Pony,” was leaked at some point, Chechik wrote.
The server storing the credentials received the information from a single IP address in the Netherlands, which suggests the attackers are using a gateway or reverse proxy in between infected computers and the command-and-control server, he wrote.
“This technique of using a reverse proxy is commonly used by attackers in order to prevent the command-and-control server from being discovered and shut down — outgoing traffic from an infected machine only shows a connection to the proxy server, which is easily replaceable in case it is taken down,” Chechik wrote.
Information on the server indicated the captured login credentials may have come from as many as 102 countries, “indicating that the attack is fairly global,” he wrote.
Source: Network World
According to the latest numbers from Ookla’s Net Index, the United States ranks 31st among every other country for internet download speeds, and 42nd for upload speeds. The data was gathered from the average of the past 30 days of speed tests done on Seattle-based Ookla’s Speedtest.net site.
While that still puts the U.S. in the top 20 percent of countries, there’s a lot of room for improvement. As Internet-connected devices continue to drive economic growth, increasing broadband speeds to keep up with the rest of the world is key.
The expansion of fiber networks, including Google Fiber and Seattle’s effort to bring fiber connectivity to parts of the city brings the promise of improving the U.S.’s standings.
But overall, the U.S. is in a tough spot, because of its size compared to some of the other countries on the list. Bringing effective Internet infrastructure to a country that spans almost 3.8 million square miles is a much different challenge, compared to 4th place South Korea, which measures 38,691 square miles.
Click here for the graphic on internet connectivity for 186 countries in report.
Bitcoin is vulnerable to an attack that could have devastating effects on the virtual currency, but it can be fixed with a software update, according to researchers from Cornell University.
The attack involves “miners,” or people running computers that verify Bitcoin transactions, said Ittay Eyal, a post doctoral fellow at Cornell University’s Department of Computer Science, who co-authored the study with Emin Gun Sire, a Cornell professor.
Every 10 minutes, miners — who usually collaborate in mining pools — are rewarded with 25 bitcoins for lending their computing power to Bitcoin if they solve a cryptographic puzzle first. Miners process Bitcoin’s transactions, which are recorded in its “blockchain,” or public ledger.
It has long been known that if a mining group controlled more than 50 percent of Bitcoin’s processing power, the network could be subject to a variety of attacks if the group wanted to act maliciously. But the researchers show that small miners may unwittingly join a malicious group.
Miners are supposed to follow Bitcoin’s software protocol. But Eyal and Sire found that Bitcoin could be significantly disrupted if a small group comprising less than 10 percent of Bitcoin’s mining power decided to not follow it.
A malicious mining group, or “selfish miners” as termed in the research paper, could “fork” the blockchain, or split it into a competing chain by only selectively revealing some of the transactions they’ve processed. If the malicious group’s blockchain fork grows larger than the legitimate one, it would begin to collect a greater share of the 25-bitcoin rewards.
Miners, seeing the malicious group gain higher revenue, would join the successful pool, even if it was unaware of its intentions. Eventually, the malicious group could control the transaction chain, Eyal said.
“The discovery here is a mining pool of any size can initiate this attack and are better off doing selfish mining,” Eyal said in a phone interview.
A variety of attacks are then possible, including spending the same bitcoin twice, which the network is currently designed to prevent. If a merchant received a payment in bitcoins, the miners could “roll back” the transaction to allow the bitcoins to be spent again, Eyal said.
“They could also prevent you from ever using your bitcoins” by not allowing certain transactions into the blockchain, Eyal said.
Fortunately, Bitcoin’s protocol can be updated. Eyal said he and Sire have suggested a fix for Bitcoin’s algorithm that would limit mining pools to no more than 25 percent of the total number of nodes on the network.
Some mining pools today already exceed 25 percent, Eyal said. “Obviously, we believe that these pools are honest and they don’t have any incentive to break the protocol, but like I said before, technically they can and we believe this is not a healthy situation for bitcoin, which we believe is destined for great things,” he said.
Gavin Andresen, chief scientist for The Bitcoin Foundation and lead developer for the Bitcoin-QT client, said developers are still digesting the research paper. But he said the consensus in the end will likely be that the attack is not practical.
Although Bitcoin is not controlled by an entity, a team of developers work on its core protocol. Updates to the protocol are periodically released and adopted by the community, although there is no way to force people to upgrade their software.
The update would give people greater confidence in the Bitcoin economy and ensure that people don’t have to count on miners’ “good intentions,” Eyal said.
Source: Network World