Archive for April 20, 2017

Cradlepoint Delivers New 4G LTE-Optimized SD-WAN Router Capabilities in NetCloud OS Release 6.3

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

Cradlepoint has introduced Release 6.3 of its NetCloud OS router software, part of the Cradlepoint NetCloud platform, with extended SD-WAN functionality for 4G LTE-dependent networks. The company also announced that its SDN-enabled network solutions have been recognized by Gartner in their 2017 WAN Edge Infrastructure Guide, which was published in March. The new router software functionality and recent Gartner recognition bolsters Cradlepoint’s leadership in software-defined 4G LTE network solutions for Connected Enterprises.

Cradlepoint’s strength in integrating wireless services into SD-WAN topologies, including 3G, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi-as-WAN, played a factor in the company’s inclusion in Gartner’s newly released WAN Edge Infrastructure Guide: “Cradlepoint is representative of an established cellular router vendor that is evolving its offering to address emerging requirements, including SD-WAN and OTT delivery of services”.

Today, Cradlepoint’s routers have a wealth of policy-based traffic prioritization, filtering, shaping and steering capabilities built into the NetCloud Traffic Control function. NetCloud OS Release 6.3 extends these critical SD-WAN router capabilities with several new 4G LTE-optimized functions:

  • Client-Side Visibility: Network administrators can see and analyze LAN-attached devices on both Ethernet and Wi-Fi. This new feature provides enhanced visibility, secure and control of on-site PCs, servers and IoT devices and aids in determining 4G LTE failover policies and remote troubleshooting from NetCloud.
  • Adaptive Quality of Service:  In a hybrid WAN environment where individual wired and wireless links may have widely differing speeds, it can be difficult to effectively control quality of service (QoS) in all scenarios, especially for latency-sensitive applications. Cradlepoint’s new Auto-QoS feature implements an advanced traffic queuing algorithm that automatically adapts to differing WAN speeds of primary and failover links to ensure latency-sensitive traffic, such as voice over IP and PoS applications, always performs optimally.
  • Smart WAN Selection (SWANS):  A new traffic steering mechanism optimized for wireless connections. For most SD-WAN solutions, 4G LTE and Wi-Fi-as-WAN connections are essentially a black box, offering little in the way of data needed for efficient traffic steering decisions. Worse yet, using synthetic transactions over 4G LTE to deduce link performance can consume multiple gigabytes of a customer’s monthly data plan. SWANS operates at the Connection Manager level (layer 2) and uses statistics captured directly from the modem and other interfaces combined with lightweight “pings” to measure latency and jitter and data plan consumption to precisely control traffic steering behavior across 4G LTE links without excessive overhead.

In the age of Digital Transformation, the definition of a wide-area network (WAN) is changing within both enterprise and government organizations. WANs are extending beyond private datacenters and fixed branches to connect cloud services and mobile sites — such as vehicles, pop-up stores, smart city infrastructures and mobile command centers — as well as remote sensors, surveillance cameras, digital signage and kiosks. The need to securely connect people, places and things everywhere is driving the convergence of SDN and cellular technology today, which sets the stage for realizing the benefits of 5G in the future.

Emerging 5G services promise up to a 10X increase in WAN throughput over today’s average 4G connection while delivering one millisecond latency and ten year battery life for IoT devices. Cradlepoint’s new Business Intelligence Report — “The State of 5G in 2017”  — details this leap in cellular technology, which will enable many new and unimaginable use cases, including gigabit-per-second wired WAN replacement, augmented reality, remote-controlled robotics and revolutionary advanced healthcare.

For more information, please visit www.cradlepoint.com.

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Husqvarna Pilots Pay-Per-Use For Chainsaws & Hedge Trimmers

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

Starting this May, homeowners in Stockholm can access pay-per-use power tools for the garden, eliminating the need to maintain and store hedge trimmers, chainsaws and other tools that are used less frequently. The project is a pilot, and part of Husqvarna’s commitment to explore innovative and sustainable solutions for taking care of gardens and green spaces.

The Husqvarna Battery Box, is a “smart”, 8×3 meter, unattended container with 30 electronic lockers that store battery powered garden care products. Via an iPhone app, homeowners can reserve tools, get instructions, pay, and open the locker to pick up their pre-booked power tool. The “box” will be placed at Bromma Blocks, a shopping center 15 min west of Stockholm city. Renting a garden care product will cost 350 SEK a day (approx 35 Euros or 38 USD).

Sustainability and innovation put to the test

This pilot project supports Husqvarna’s sustainability agenda to drive the conversion from petrol powered products to silent battery products with no direct emissions in urban areas. Additionally, the purpose is also to test the real-world applications of this technical solution, as well as collect insights on market maturity, customer behaviour, and potential future revenue streams for Husqvarna’s distribution network. The test period runs from May 1 to October 31, 2017.

How it works

After completing registration in the iPhone app (also called ”Husqvarna Battery Box”), the customer can reserve one of the 30 available battery powered products (chainsaw, hedge trimmer, trimmer or blower). The app guides the user on how to open and close the door to the particular locker where the product they want to rent is kept. The app also includes “how-to-films” to explain how the product works. The Box, powered by solar cells, will be serviced by Husqvarna staff daily, ensuring that products are in good condition and that the batteries are fully charged.

The connection between the Husqvarna Battery Box and the customer is enabled via Bluetooth. For identification purposes, the customer uses the Swedish ID app “BankID”. Payments are charged to the registered credit card at the end of the month.

Powerful and silent products in the box

From a performance perspective, the battery products in the box are equivalent to the petrol versions of comparable size, but without the noise and direct emissions. The battery series in the box is powered by a 36V Li-ion battery, and one battery fits all products in the box (chainsaw, hedge trimmer, blower, trimmer).

Project partners and set-up

Husqvarna Battery Box is the result of a partnership that includes Telenor, Flex, Zuora and HiQ. Flex builds the connected Box and reports its status on events handled through a cloud solution with Telenor Connexion. Zuora supplies the subscription payment solution and HiQ builds the app and the system needed to bring everything together. The shopping center Bromma Blocks provides the space for the test.

Alison Celebrates 10th Birthday, New Web Platform & Rebrand

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

Alison has launched a new mobile-friendly, personalised platform design, enhancing user experience and strengthening learner engagement. Founded 10 years ago today, Irish-based Alison is one of the world’s largest free education and skills training platforms, recently registering its ten millionth learner. It boasts over one million graduates of its courses with learners and graduates in every country.

The launch also marks the adoption of a brand re-fresh. Feerick explained “We are excited to be combining the new website launch with a refresh of our brand. Free access to education and skills training through Alison has enabled our Learners and Graduates to make positive change in their lives. “Empower Yourself” is our invitation to our members – who of course can sign up and study with Alison for free. By striving daily to give everyone the freedom to learn and the tools to succeed, our mission to improve the world through the power of education can be achieved”.

Around 14% of Alison graduates state that free learning with Alison has led to new employment, promotion and college opportunities, while 88% said graduating with Alison improved their personal confidence and 90% said it encouraged them to learn further. Alison provides more than 800 free courses on a broad range of subjects including project managementIT skillslearning languages and business management skills.

CRTC Rules In Favor Of Net Neutrality In Canada

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today decided in favour of historic Net Neutrality rules that prevent ISPs from unfairly manipulating data caps to discriminate against certain apps and services.

This decision comes from a 2015 complaint against the wireless carrier Videotron, which primarily operates in Quebec. Videotron launched a feature in August of that year, enabling customers to stream music from services such as Spotify and Google Play Music without it counting against a monthly data cap as a way to entice people to subscribe to Videotron’s internet service. In short, Videotron and any other ISP can’t do this.

This is a huge win for Canadians. And I am guessing Americans who recently had a lot of their rights on the Internet yanked out from under them are now wishing that they lived in Canada

 

Flaw In Linksys Routers Can Be Used To Create Botnet

Posted in Commentary with tags on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

Security researchers and Linksys are warning that multiples models of Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Routers have vulnerabilities that might be exploited to create a botnet. Here’s a list of the affected routers:

WRT Series
WRT1200AC
WRT1900AC
WRT1900ACS
WRT3200ACM

EAxxxx Series
EA2700
EA2750
EA3500
EA4500 v3
EA6100
EA6200
EA6300
EA6350 v2
EA6350 v3
EA6400
EA6500
EA6700
EA6900
EA7300
EA7400
EA7500
EA8300
EA8500
EA9200
EA9400
EA9500

A security advisory was issued by Linksys today which includes a workaround for customers until final firmware updates are posted in the coming weeks….. Though I would classify some of what they are recommending as common sense, but here’s the workaround:

  1. Enable automatic updates: I don’t like to do that as updates sometimes cause issues. Thus I like to wait a day or two to see if anything is reported on the Internet before I update.
  2. Disable WiFi Guest Network: This is something that I recommend that you do as a matter of course as guest networks can be used as an attack vector.
  3. Change the default Administrator password: This falls under the category marked “duh” as there is no reason on God’s green earth why you should be using the default administrator password for any device ever.

If you want an idea of what the issue is that is prompting this reaction from Linksys, IOActive who are the researchers who found this issue have a great write up that you can read right here.

UPDATE: This has now been fixed. See this link for details.

Bose Gets Accused Of Spying On It’s Users

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 20, 2017 by itnerd

A class action lawsuit has been filed after a owner of a pair Bose headphones allegedly discovered how much personal information that the Bose Connect app was sending to Bose. This allegedly included songs listened to, for how long, and when.

Court documents [Warning: PDF] state that Kyle Zak bought himself a pair of Bose QuietComfort 15 wireless headphones in March, and downloaded the Bose Connect smartphone app that allows the user to control the headsets from their phone. Bose’s app collects data on what kind of songs he was listening to, and for how long, along with a personal identifier code. The lawsuit says these records are routed to a data mining firm called Segment.io which advertises that it can “collect all of your customer data and send it anywhere.” The thing is, he never gave anyone permission to collect his data and send it anywhere. Plus he claims that he wouldn’t have bought these headsets had he known that Bose was doing this.

For giggles I borrowed a pair of Quiet Comfort 35 headsets and downloaded the Bose Connect App onto my iPhone and discovered that he might have a point. For example, you need to give the app access to GPS data which makes zero sense to to me seeing as you are listening to music which the last time I checked, didn’t require you to give out your location to do so. But the flipside to that is that there’s a section in the software detailing Bose’s privacy policy that clearly states that the app collects data and sends it to third parties. So perhaps this individual missed that part. But I am a computer nerd and not a lawyer.

Now none of this has been proven in court. But if it is, he wants $5 million in his bank account. Bose hasn’t commented, but I for one can’t wait to see what they come back with.