ICYMI: Cisco added to China's blacklist

ICYMI: Cisco added to China's vendor blacklist, net neutrality explained and Apple announces iOS 8.

Cisco added to China's vendor blacklist, rejects cyber spying claims

Cisco chief executive John Chambers rejected the claim that Cisco has been involved in cyber spying initiatives in China. The New York Times reported last week that China Youth Daily, a Chinese daily paper, claimed Cisco "carries on intimately with the U.S. government and military, exploiting its market advantage in the Chinese information networks, playing a disgraceful role and becoming an important weapon in the U.S. exploiting its power over the Internet."

The allegations add Cisco to the list of vendors that Chinese institutions claim to be threats to security.  Windows 8 was recently banned from Chinese government computers after the 12-year-old XP system was retired, reported the Australian Financial Review.

Bloomberg News also reported that China is reviewing International Business Machine Corp. (IBM) for possible financial security risks. IBM released a statement saying it is a trusted partner of China and has been for 30 years.

The recent scrutiny of U.S. technology vendors is proof of escalating tension between the two countries. Some say the Cisco allegations are a response to recent criminal charges the U.S. government leveled against five Chinese military officials for allegedly hacking into computers at a number of major companies that included Westinghouse Electric Co., Alcoa World Alumina and U.S. Steel Corp.

At this point, it is hard to prove definitively who is spying on who, or if spying is even occurring at all. Mark Natkin, managing director of Marbridge Consulting, a Beijing-based information technology consulting firm, told the Australian Financial Review, "I do think we'll see some more escalation, and hopefully, it will not be permanent. Hopefully, it will not last too long. Right now it’s hard to imagine it all clearing away."

White House Fellows to showcase Internet of Things

The Presidential Innovation Fellows, a White House-based program, will present an Internet of Things demonstration on June 11 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. The goal of the demonstration is to showcase how deeply the IoT affects the lives of everyday people.

SearchNetworking Fast Packet blogger Patrick Hubbard discussed the impact of IoT in a recent TechTarget article, writing, "The Internet of Things is inevitable, and it is nothing short of a new universal entitlement: Everything you touch may access the Internet. Forget smart devices, these are smart objects, chatty on the wire and quick to deliver disappointing user experiences if the network interferes with their operation. Nontraditional network devices will outnumber today's gear, using protocols and bandwidth in unexpected ways," he said.

While the Internet of Things has the potential to improve lives and increase our interconnectedness, security remains an issue. In an April 2014 article, SearchNetworking News Director Shamus McGillicuddy took a look at some of the security challenges. "Internet of Things security is difficult to discuss because the concept is so immense. When you make 'everything' IP-connected, how do you lock all of that down? Cars, cows, oil rigs, medical devices, refrigerators. There is no perimeter that can encircle all of that," he wrote. Moreover, McGillicuddy explained, network engineers are still adapting to consumerization.  Bottom line: The responsibility to maintain security will on the providers, not the manufacturers.

Net neutrality: What is it?

Gail Sullivan of the Washington Post sums up the basic idea of Net neutrality. "It’s the idea that Internet service providers such as Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and Time Warner Cable should treat all online traffic running through their pipes equally." The alternative, she explains, is the "pay-to-play," which would compel companies like Netflix to pay for fast access and bypass other Internet traffic.

Net neutrality is now being debated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which last month voted 3-2 to consider two options. According to the editorial board of the New York Times, the first option would "require cable and phone companies to provide their broadband subscribers a basic level of unfettered Internet service." As long as that condition is met, these companies would be able to offer a higher quality service to businesses for a more costly amount. Critics of this option say that this would divide the internet into "haves" and "have-nots." The second option would reclassify broadband service as a public telecommunications utility. This would allow for more strict government regulation.

The agency said it will use the next four months to review public comments before making a decision. Engineers, meantime, say they are concerned about the impact of any ruling that gives broadband providers the option to charge users for faster access.

Apple announces iOS 8 at the WWDC

The Internet of Things (IoT) seems to be a major talking point at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. During a two-hour keynote address, chief executive Tim Cook announced Apple's new iOS 8 operating system, to be released this fall, will allow a user to control "smart home" devices such as lights, garage doors and alarm clocks from an iPhone or iPad.

While there were no new hardware announcements, Cook did say that Apple will be upgrading iMessaging to make it easier to leave and participate in group chats. There will also be a feature added where a user can send and receive video and audio messages, which will only be available for two minutes unless saved. There will also be third-party keyboards available so that apps can talk to each other, similar to the way the Android system works.

Apple is positioning itself to be a major player in the emerging IoT marketplace, which Cisco estimates will be a $19 trillion opportunity within the next 10 years. Extending the versatility of Apple devices to control functions such as lighting and temperature control in the home hold promise, observers say, but there are also serious questions regarding the security implications of a truly interconnected world.

 

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