Things in IoT You Need to Know This Week: November 28 to December 1

This week, a high-profile cyber attacks hit a San Francisco public transit and a German ISP. Plus, details on Intel’s foray into self-driving cars, a new use for LEDs, and using IoT to help people with dementia.

Maya Auguston

November 30, 2016

3 Min Read
Lenovo attack

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San Francisco Transit Systems Downed in Ransomware Attack

Riders of San Francisco’s transit system (SFMTA), found themselves riding for free over the weekend when payment systems were temporarily disabled by hackers, reports the San Francisco Examiner. An individual claiming responsibility for the Ransomware attack demanded $73,000 in Bitcoin to restore service, however, services were restored by Sunday evening. While this particular attack caused only minimal inconvenience to travelers and cost SFMTA revenue for a few days, it suggests how vulnerable out-of-date transit systems are.

Security journalist Brian Krebs reports that the hacker behind the SFMTA hack was himself targeted in a cyberattack, revealing details about his identity and location. A security researcher told Krebs that he targeted an email address belonging to the hacker and then gained acceess to the account and changed the password. 

Intel Plays Catch-Up on Autonomous Cars

With the announcement of a new partnership, Intel has officially entered the self-driving car fray. Per the New York Times, the computer-processing giant will provide computer chips to Delphi Automotive and Mobileye (whose vision systems have been used by Tesla). Over the next several years, they hope to develop a relatively low-cost autonomous system that could be added to less expensive cars, putting the technology within reach of a greater swath of consumers.

Mirai Strikes Again, and Now its For Sale

Nearly a million customers of German Internet provider Deutsche Telekom lost Internet service on Sunday as the result of an attempt by hackers using a modified version of the Mirai code to recruit routers into a larger botnet. The hackers claiming responsibility have suggested that the mass Internet outage was an unintended consequence of their botnet expansion, writes Vice’s Motherboard. The hackers claim to have control of nearly a million devices—experts estimate the infected number of devices is closer to half that figure. The hackers are offering to rent the power of their botnet to anyone willing to pay for it, giving credence to the idea that botnets could cause hackers to act more like mobsters.

LED Technology Could Be the Future of Retail—and the Internet

We’ve all heard of smart LEDs that let users change color or intensity from a smartphone or tablet. But now, there’s a grocery store in France where LEDs are communicating—through flashes imperceptible to the human eye—with shopper’s smartphones, tracking movements and providing suggestions or discounts tailored to each individual. While the potential benefit to retailers is undeniable, it’s small potatoes compared to what this type of technology could bring in the future. Namely, LiFi: an Internet connection delivered via visible light signal rather than via a central router as Wi-Fi is. Of course, a LiFi network wouldn’t be able to pass through walls. But it could be useful for secure communications and delivering the Internet to areas where traditional Wi-Fi can interfere with equipment. 

UK Researchers Using IoT to Aid People with Dementia

A new study funded by the UK’s National Health Service is exploring the use of Internet-connected devices to support people with dementia in living independently. Devices being tested range from pill bottles that automatically dispense medication at specific times to sensors that monitor fluid intake or how long a person has been seated. The goal is to assist people living with dementia in daily routines, as well as providing useful information to family members and caregivers. Research of this kind is especially important given the rapidly growing elderly population in many Western countries.

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About the Author(s)

Maya Auguston

Maya Auguston graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2014 with an English degree and a keen interest in writing. Currently a freelance writer in the tech space, she has worked on a variety of platforms, from blogging and podcasting to writing scripts for videos. 

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