Smaller LEDs are scaling up for uses such as lighter AR glasses, automotive [Byline]

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are getting smaller, but the process to make them small isn’t easy – at least not yet.

Not unlike many semiconductor technologies, including emerging memory devices, making LEDs smaller is possible, but not always cost effective. The LEDs found in your average flatscreen TV are a mature technology, but manufacturing microLEDs still has its growing pains.

The potential for microLEDs is broad and goes beyond flat panel televisions and smaller displays for smartphones and automotive – there are some interesting medical applications, too.

Read my full story for Fierce Electronics

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

4 Reasons Retailers Love NaaS [Portfolio]

Just as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) has made inroads into retail as a means of shifting IT responsibilities for applications to a third party, a similar model for networking is gaining popularity. The Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) paradigm reflects the reality that deploying a network in a store, regardless of size, adds complexity to IT — both in terms of installation and ongoing management.

Not only does NaaS support scalability and flexibility for businesses prone to seasonal fluctuations, but it also provides a platform to capture customer insights that drive revenue growth.

Read my blog post for Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Smart Car Test Facility Sees the Big Picture [Byline]

TORONTO — Testing various electronics components such as memory to make sure that they can withstand the rigors of the automotive environment has long been standard operating procedure. But today’s smarter cars and emerging autonomous vehicles must be put through their paces as a complete package.

In Europe, this can now be done at the AstaZero 5G test facility, a joint venture of Swedish state-owned Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) and Chalmers University. In a telephone interview with EE Times, AstaZero CEO Peter Janevik said that it’s the most advanced testing environment for self-driving vehicles, designed to provide the data necessary to predict vehicle behavior in real-life situations without the need for on-the-road testing.

Read the full story on EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Intel Combines Optane Options with New Processor Class [Byline]

TORONTO — Only months after announcing it would slowly wind down its 3D Xpoint collaboration with Micron Technology, Intel Corp. has outlined where it sees the persistent memory delivering the most benefits.

Its latest data center strategy includes two new members of its Xeon process family. The Xeon E-2100 processor is available immediately, while its Cascade Lake advanced performance processor will be released in the first half of next year.

The E-2100 processor is aimed at small- and medium-size business and cloud service providers to support workloads on entry-level servers, as well as across all computing segments for sensitive workloads that need enhanced data protections. Cascade Lake, however, is a new class of scalable Xeon processor, said Lisa Spelman, vice president and general manager of Intel Xeon products and data center marketing.

Read the full story on EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

5 ways to prepare for PIPEDA’s updates [Byline]

If getting your IT systems to support privacy legislation is your jam, you’re going to love the latest update to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). Better yet, you can apply your experience meeting the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to your PIPEDA compliance efforts.

Changes to PIPEDA regulations

Like GDPR, Canada’s new privacy breach notification rules were in the works for some time, thanks to amendments to PIPEDA by the Digital Privacy Act. Taking effect November 1, the new rules mean organizations must to notify individuals and Canada’s Privacy Commissioner of all security breaches that could result in a “real risk of significant harm” to an individual. They apply to any organization, except in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, which all have their own privacy legislation.

Another pending change to PIPEDA the finalized consent guidelines, released by Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in May. This update also has similarities to GDPR, as it provides guidance on the collection, use, or disclosure—collectively, processing—of the data subject’s personal information. PIPEDA’s “Guidelines for obtaining meaningful consent,” set out both mandatory and suggested steps for organizations. These updates take effect in January 2019.

Latest PIPEDA principles follow in GDPR’s footsteps

If you recall your GDPR prep, you’ll also recall PIPEDA compliance wasn’t enough to meet the demands of the European Union’s legislation that was designed to protect privacy of their citizens regardless of geography. But a culture of privacy protection works in your favour. Just as your PIPEDA compliance was good prep for GDPR, the PIPEDA amendments should be easier to wrap your head around now that you’re GDPR compliant.

These updates impact your IT team, but you’ll need to collaborate across the organization for effective PIPEDA compliance. Security, legal and communications staff all need to be on board. Protecting privacy isn’t just about technology, it’s a mindset, so you’ll need a executive champion to lead and maintain the necessary culture shift in the organization.

But if you want to boil down the latest PIPEDA compliance requirements into a plan of action, here are five things you should do:

  • Know your data: PIPEDA and GDPR both require that you understand how a person’s person data flows through the organization—how it’s collected, how it’s moved, how it’s stored, and most of all, what it’s being used for. You need to map all personal and sensitive data, and you might want to consider not collecting unnecessary data—once you have it, you’re responsible for safeguarding it.
  • Revise policies and procedures and create new ones: GDPR required new ways of thinking, and the PIPEDA update specifically requires a process to notify data subjects of a breach—again, just like the European legislation. Beyond that, you need to think about how it affects your business processes that involve data collection, such as marketing and customer onboarding.
  • Automate where possible: Privacy protection is dependent on good information security practices, which today can no longer depend on people alone. Just as good security takes advantage of artificial intelligence, machine learning, the embedded features of a modern operating system, and smart devices that can help protect against threats, you need be proactive and not reactive, and embrace privacy by design. You should have an information management system that can track breaches, just as you would with any other IT issue.
  • Run fire drills: Like any disaster recovery and data protection plans, you should periodically test your breach response plans to make sure everyone plays their part should a breach occur because it’s not a matter of if, but when. You want your breach response process to be by the book, so you can minimize risk and potential litigation.

Privacy has been the new normal since the initial inception of PIPEDA, but it’s a landscape that continues to evolve—the legislation was intended to be reviewed every five years since being introduced more than 15 years ago. What’s most important to remember with these latest updates is that PIPEDA compliance is a mindset and protecting sensitive data needs to be part of your organization’s culture. Thinking about privacy intentionally will help you stay compliant in the long run, no matter how regulatory frameworks or legislation evolve.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors. A revised version of this article was published on Tektonika Canada.

Quantum Computing Is Mathematically Better, But Not Always [Byline]

TORONTO — It’s always been assumed that quantum computing is better — at least to the layperson. But IBM research scientists have now actually proven mathematically that quantum computing is faster than a classical computer for certain problems.

The critical word, however, is “certain.” In a telephone interview with EE Times, Bob Sutor, vice president of IBM Q Ecosystem and Strategy, said this mathematical proof demonstrates concretely the difference between certain types of computations that can be done with a quantum computer versus a classical computer.

Read the full story on EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Connected Devices Need More Secure Memory [Byline]

TORONTO — Emerging use cases are revealing the many ways memory technologies can be an avenue for threat actors to create havoc, whether for stealing data or sending malicious instructions.

Security features in memory aren’t new, of course. The “s” in SD card initially stood for “secure,” but the SD Association hasn’t really emphasized it for a decade, while electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM) has long been used for applications that need embedded security such as credit cards, SIM cards and key-less entry systems, among others.

But as different kinds of memory are put into a wider variety of systems — such as automotive, manufacturing and the Internet of Things (IoT) — the need for security has greatly increased. The question is not only where that security will be integrated, but how it will be managed, especially in embedded memories that are expected to remain in a device for years, possibly decades.

Read the full story on EE Times.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Flash File Fragmentation Needs A Fix for Automotive [Byline]

Gone are the days of having to manually defrag your hard drive because it’s done automatically, and flash doesn’t experience file fragmentation. Or does it?

It may be that your smartphone is running slow because it can’t keep up with software updates and bloating, but that its flash storage is experiencing file fragmentation. Joel Catala, director of Embedded Solutions at Tuxera, said that contrary to popular belief, fragmentation can significantly affect performance of a flash device. Recent research suggests that as flash storage hardware gets faster, the software I/O stack overhead is an I/O performance bottleneck, he said in a telephone interview with EE Times. It’s not the flash or the controller responsible for the bottleneck.

Read the full EE Time story.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.

Face the cybercrime prevention challenges of 2018 head-on [Byline]

Consider the first half of 2018 a learning experience in cybercrime prevention. All that’s needed is a tiny vulnerability for hackers to worm their way in. But if there’s one key lesson to take home, it’s that having a handle on your endpoints, such as your printers through managed print services, can improve your security posture.

Last year was the worst year to date for cyberattacks, but the chief security officer of BlackBerry predicts 2018 will be worse. And when the CSO of a tech company best known for secure communications raises the alarm, you should listen.

IT security is taking a beating

Cybercrime is big business, and 2017 was a good year for those making a living as threat actors.

The Online Trust Alliance, an arm of the non-profit Internet Society, release its 2017 Cyber Incident and Breach Trend Report in January, which found that breaches in storage of personal data and cybercrime incidents hit a record high globally. Among the high-profile victims were Equifax Inc., with a massive breach affecting the personal data of 100,000 Canadians, as well as 145 million Americans; Uber waited until 2017 that 57 million of its driver and rider records were held ransom by hackers in 2016; and, Yahoo! revealed that its 2013 breach was far worse than originally reported, ultimately affecting three billion accounts.

In 2018, the hits just keep on coming, with several high-profile brands disclosing their cybersecurity woes in the first quarter. The big one of course, was the revelation that big data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica, improperly tapped into Facebook to harvest more than 50 million user records as part of its efforts to support the Trump presidential campaign organization. Expedia-owned travel site Orbitz announced a data breach that put 880,000 credit cards at risk. Among the other notable victims were regional health organizations in the United States while Equifax breach continued to wide.

Your cybersecurity strategy must be ready for war

The first half of the year certainly supports BlackBerry CSO Alex Manea’s belief that 2018 will be the worst year to date for cyberattacks. The primary reason, he writes in a blog post earlier this year, is the fundamental issues that spurred the majority of recent breaches haven’t been addressed. Increasingly complex networks, new types of endpoints, and more and more sensitive data needing protection are putting even more pressure on IT teams. Legacy systems are still entrenched in many organizations with well-known software vulnerabilities acting as an open-door policy for hackers.

Manea’s not alone in thinking 2018 will be the year of the cyberwar, but ultimately, you can only fight your own battles on your front. And the best defence is often a good offence with the right tools and best practices:

  • Training: Manea warns that hackers will target employees as they become a growing cybersecurity vulnerability. This means you need to prepare everyone for the social engineering hackers use to gain access by impersonating legitimate companies. The culture of your organization should mean every employee is identifying and reporting anything that looks hinky.
  • Outsourcing: Given the complexity of contemporary IT security, outsourcing it to a dedicated IT managed security services means you’re not completely on the hook for knowing about every single threat or vulnerability that rears their ugly head. Managed print services alone will help shore up many endpoints that threat actors seek out.
  • Threat assessments: One of the arrows in a managed security services firm’s quiver is threat assessment. They can help you conduct assessments of your print environment, your Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies, your various cloud services, and even your Internet of Things (IoT) deployments.
  • Backup your data: If your critical business information is replicated regularly and securely, you won’t care if a hacker tries to hold data hostage.
  • Automate where possible: Even with the sources of am IT security partner, cybercrime prevention can’t succeed if everything needs to be done manually. New tools and services are taking advantage of artificial intelligence and machine learning, so your infrastructure has its own intelligent immune system to fight off threats. Having a modern operating system takes care of a lot of endpoint security issues automatically.

There are plenty of other ways a CSO can reduce risk, but most of all, you must have a mindset that cybercrime prevention is just the cost of doing business. With private sector companies taking the initiative on cybersecurity with the own “Digital Geneva Accord,” the onus is on everyone in the organization—end users and IT staff– to make good cybersecurity prevention is part of the culture.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors. A revised version of this article was published on Tektonika Canada.

DRAM Boom and Bust is Business as Usual [Byline]

Boom or bust. It’s long been the cycle for established memory technologies. As 3D NAND pricing softens, DRAM still appears to be going strong. But for how long? And will these ups and downs always be the norm despite diversified demand and emerging vendors from China?

One key characteristic of the DRAM market is that there are currently only three major suppliers — Micron Technology, SK Hynix and Samsung Electronics.

“They’re keeping a pretty tight rein on their capacity,” said Brian Matas, vice president of market research at IC Insights, said in a telephone interview with EE Times. “And at the same time, there’s also pretty strong demand for higher performance and higher-density parts, particularly from the data center and server applications.”

Read my EE Times story.

Gary Hilson is a freelance writer with a focus on B2B technology, including information technology, cybersecurity, and semiconductors.