Friday, May 25, 2018
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Hijacking on the Information Highway
Jacob Fatal, Publisher

Poorly-secured, Internet-enabled devices have become targets in the latest round of cyber attacks. The recent attack on Internet infrastructure company Dyn in late October, in which a huge number of IoT devices were used to obstruct access to sites including Twitter, Amazon, Netflix, PayPal, and many others, begs for greater security for the Internet of Things and connected devices. Dyn is a major DNS provider that translates URLs into the actual numerical IP addresses of the servers that host websites, a bit like an Internet phonebook.

In this case, a massive amount of Internet-enabled devices, including DVRs and video cameras fell prey to a piece of malware that exploited their connectivity to flood Dyn's network with illegitimate traffic. The consequence was a series of Internet outages that reached from Dyn's headquarters in New Hampshire to the West Coast.

This sort of cyber attack demonstrates the need for robust information security. With more and more data being transmitted globally per year — Cisco forecasts annual traffic exceeding 2.3 zettabytes by 2020 — we should expect the task of keeping our connected systems safe to become only more difficult. This year's electronica in Munich, Germany, demonstrated a rapidly expanding global component market, especially for automotive and industrial electronics. The trend toward automation and the Internet of Things is driving requirements for more and better sensing, information, and communications technology in our factories, vehicles and homes.

The German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI) has reported that electrical and electronic components account for 30 percent of today's automobile production value. With the headlong rush into autonomous driving, vehicle controls are becoming incredibly complex electronic systems. With such emphasis on connected technologies in vehicles, the concern of keeping them secure and protecting their passengers must be addressed. Possible issues range from attacks on vehicle data systems to interference with entire smart road infrastructures. In the next few years, we are likely to see autonomous driving begin to play a role in our everyday lives, with some experts forecasting millions of such vehicles taking to the roads by 2020.

In February, U.S.Tech heads to ATX/MD&M West in Anaheim, California, and then on to IPC APEX in San Diego. These strong shows are also sure to see new ideas about the security of interconnected production equipment on the shop floor. Now that 2017 is upon us, we can hope for and wish all of our readers a safe, prosperous and secure new year.  

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