Tuesday, November 8, 2016

October 21 2016; a day that shall live in IoT infamy


Thats a provocative headline but the widespread DDoS attack that took place on October 21st came from unprotected IoT devices and that's a security game changer for the world of IoT.

If you are reading this then you are probably well aware of the internet outages that day but just in case it was a classic distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on a key DNS provider called Dyn. This is what the web looked like on Oct 21, red is bad:

l3outageA depiction of the outages caused by today’s attacks on Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company. Source: Downdetector.com.  

DDoS attacks aren't new,  for years, hackers have routinely infected millions of PCs with malware and created Botnets they can activate to attack websites, service providers and infrastructure companies but this time they corralled up to a million IoT devices.  This IoT Botnet used code called Mirai which had infected security cameras, DVRs, printers and routers running a common form of embedded Linux (dubbed "the Swiss Army knife of embedded Linux"  I did not make this up!).  Much has been written about this attack by experts so I won't dig in deep but please think about subscribing to my former colleague, Dave Strom's Inside Security newsletter to get the scoop.

My larger point is that all the devices which were compromised had two things in common; they were consumer devices built on tight profit margins (hence the free/open source code) and the designers "hoped" that users would change the default password on the device when they were installed.  So here we have have two failings of human beings (not technology); building cheap products and assuming end users understand technology and how to protect their own security.  Couldn't see that coming.

So why is this fiasco such a tipping point in IoT history?  Well first of all we all now know it can happen and affect a lot of other people who are going to take action, second, there is now no excuse for device designers not to take security seriously, even if they have a tight budget.

Just to show that this isn't wishful thinking on my part I have seen evidence of this in September when we (I was at AspenCore at that time) asked embedded/IoT hardware designers what their major concerns were right now and for the first time we saw Security as #1. Although one cautionary note is that "Cost" was #2 and very close.

So here is my closing thought,  IoT security is on everyone's mind now and free software combined with asking users to change their passwords may not be the best choice for securing devices in a world of constant cyber attacks.  More on this in my next blog and feel free to comment and share. 



  

Friday, May 27, 2016

The IoT will be high frequency and will change your life

This week I attened the IEEE International Microwave Symposium in San Francisco and wrote an article for Electronic Products magazine here: http://www.electronicproducts.com/Industrial/Business/Millimeter_wave_for_the_IoT_masses_how_new_radio_technology_is_going_to_save_your_life_really.aspx

I'm restarting this blog because the IoT just gets more interesting by the day and after seeing all the new RF technology coming with the move to 5G mobile I am even more excited about the potential of the IoX to change our world..

I have a new role in media at AspenCore (disclosure: AspenCore is a division of Arrow Electronics) and will post more often now I'm back in electronics.

Hope to see you around the industry soon.

David B

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How my 18 stock IoT index did after 2 years (hint: not too shabby!) and some lessons learned

Back in June 2013 when I started this blog I picked 18 stocks which I thought mirrored the public companies that would benefit the most from the coming IoT boom.  In retrospect I think there has been an IoT boom but the differences in how some of my 18 picks performed is startling.  A couple of companies had stock splits (Google and Apple) and Freescale is being acquired by NXP this summer.

But talking of Freescale it was my clear winner over the last 2 years, in fact its a two bagger with a gain of 200.21%.  On the other end of the equation Sprint was down 33.6% and overall the portfolio gained 34.5%, not too shabby! Here's the portfolio in all its glory (my original post from June 2013 with the rationale for each stock and my 7 elements of the IoT is here: http://dblaza.blogspot.com/2013/06/how-to-invest-in-internet-of-things-my.html).

Stock Name-Symbol Price on 6/22/15 Price on 6/20/13 % gain
Apple-AAPL $510.44 $416.45 22.57%
Amazon-AMZN $436.29 $273.44 59.56%
ARM-ARMH $53.73 $36.67 46.52%
Atmel-ATML $10.44 $7.45 40.13%
Avnet-AVT $43.45 $33.40 30.09%
Cisco-CSCO $28.94 $24.44 18.41%
Freescale-FSL $42.27 $14.08 200.21%
Google-GOOG $1,076.38 $884.74 21.66%
Honeywell-HON $105.37 $77.71 35.59%
IBM $167.73 $197.39 -15.03%
Linear Technology-LLTC $47.15 $35.92 31.26%
Microchip-MCHP $50.41 $36.48 38.19%
Maxim-MXIM $35.65 $27.36 30.30%
Rackspace-RAX $38.18 $35.13 8.68%
Sprint-S $4.69 $7.07 -33.66%
STMicroelectronics-STM $8.30 $9.26 -10.37%
Taiwan Semiconductor-TSM $23.84 $17.41 36.93%
Texas Instruments-TXN $55.50 $34.62 60.31%
Total % gain 34.50%

Now does this make me an investing genius?  Well we all know the answer to that question and you haven't hurt my feelings!  Let's compare my results to some common indices to get a reality check.  

If you had simply bought the Dow Jones Index (DJIA) during this time period then you would have a return of 22.77%, so I beat the Dow.  The S&P 500 returned 32.15% so I beat the S&P. But what about the "tech heavy" NASDAQ?  If you had simply bought the NASDAQ index you would have seen a 53.18% return, way better than my 34.5% and buying the SOX semiconductor index would have given you a 58% return, again significantly better than my index.

So whats the lesson here?  To me it's clear that the IoT is an amalgam of so many industries and sectors its hard to find pure play companies and no single player is going to dominate, not Google or Amazon or IBM.  I identified 7 aspects of the IoT and its not just hardware, software and infrastructure that we need to look at but standards, security, governance and ecosystems so its much more complex than people think.

So looking forward I think the meta lesson is that the real winners in the IoT are going to be those companies that can assemble the best ecosystem to serve the IoT and today I think that's wide open.  If you think you have spotted a winner please comment.  


Friday, May 1, 2015

Windows 10 for the IoT is out, runs on Raspberry Pi 2 as promised, also on Arduino and 2 Intel boards

A milestone in the world of IoT happened this week at Microsoft's Build conference in San Francisco when Microsoft revealed Windows 10 for the #IoT.  Its big for Microsoft in that the "Windows Everywhere" mantra finally comes true.  Its big for the IoT development world because Microsoft is so ubiquitous in our lives at work and at home.

If you look at the Win10 IoT page,  its very #Maker and #Kickstarter like:

There are examples of projects, cloud connections (of course!) and a Github code community.  Its all very nicely done and its going to be interesting to see how fast its adopted.  Are you going buy that Raspberry Pi 2 now?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

An inexpensive building block for the IoT, get yours on Kickstarter quick!

In many of my posts I have talked about all the building blocks and interdependencies of the #IoT and how its not that easy to pull it all together so when I saw this Kickstarter project that solves one of the major connectivity issues I was intrigued.

Getting your data from the sensor to the cloud is non trivial and there are so many connectivity issues but this little device takes advantage of the nearly ubiquitous cellular infrastructure (at least in urban areas) to get you up and running.  The board has pretty impressive hardware with an STMicro ARM Cortex-M3 controller on board and a cellular modem:


In order to make the cellular data plan simple the team have basically become a carrier so they can offer connectivity of up to 20,000 messages or 1MB for $2.99 a month (extra MB are $0.99) so its not crazy expensive the way some older M2M systems always seemed to be. 

Right now you can get the board and 2 months of free data for $39 so why not order one and get yourself connected?  4500 other people have ordered one and they blew through their target, seems like a winner to me.  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How the IoT will be built; ARM, IBM & Freescale IoT starter kit

Today (Feb 24, 2015) is the first day of the influential Embedded World event in Germany and as such its a platform for companies to announce new products and set the stage for the coming year. Embedded World is not a very sexy event like CES or Mobile World Congress but you can see into the slightly murky technology crystal ball and see what's likely to happen next. As I expected Embedded World will be dominated by everything IoT simply because its going to be the biggest growth driver of electronics in this decade and you'd be a fool to miss it. So right on the first day of the event,  ARM, IBM and Freescale get out of the gate fast with an IoT starter kit, you can read the details here.

An interesting hidden point here is that the IoT is complex (read my 7 basic needs of the IoT blog) and no single company, not IBM, Microsoft, Google, Apple or Intel has all the pieces to make it work so the future will be all about partnerships, ecosystems and collaboration.  Easier said than done!

So here we have 3 major players getting together to make life easier for developers; software from ARM, hardware from Freescale and the Big Blue Cloud.  Even with these 3 heavy hitters the connectivity layer is still missing (unless IBM does deals with carriers) and there will be questions about security.

I haven't researched the IBM IoT Foundation yet but it does seem to remove many barriers to getting the IoT up and working so its seems like a great tool and they have made it easy to try and test:


Check out the IoT foundation here: https://internetofthings.ibmcloud.com/#/

This week I will read the tea leaves from Embedded World and drop my thoughts here just as I did for CES over on the ARM Community last month.

What's exciting you about the IoT?


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Predicting the future using CES, and my blogs over on the ARM community

Happy New Year to you,   my blogging here has been infrequent because I'm full time consulting for ARM and having a blast.  Some of my work at ARM is on content so I am still fully #IoT immersed and as I come up to the second anniversary of this blog (launched May 2013) I am even more excited about the potential of the IoT.

Two fun initiatives I worked on at ARM over the last few months were very IoT centric, namely wearables and crowdfunding.  Looking at wearables was a great education in the power of connectivity and a window into what the IoT can do for us personally.  I have a hunch that wearables in all their forms are going to make the IoT so much a part of our everyday lives it will help grow the market much faster than I anticipated in 2013.


Another ARM project was looking at the phenomenon which is Kickstarter and how its become a powerhouse of electronics design.  There is a page over on Kickstarter.com featuring ARM powered devices that shows the diversity of products being funded and virtually all could be categorized as IoT.  An interview I did with Cyril Ebersweiler of HAXLR8R shows how crowdfunding is fundamentally changing the way electronics are designed and get to market.  If you only have time to read one blog today then this is the one I would reccomend. 

Then of course we start the year with the craziness of CES so I decided to take an imaginary behind the scenes look at what we might see at CES 2016 based on the new semiconductors being announced.  Its a multi part series, part 1 is here.

As the IoT hype cycle continues I am still incredibly optimistic about what we will see over the next few years and will keep you posted.  

Thanks for reading.