BARCELONA—The second day of Mobile World Congress kicked off with talks on three emerging technology areas: 5G, next-gen cybersecurity, and what it means to stay agile and innovative in a rapidly changing world.

MWC Bug ArtOn stage here, McAfee CEO Christopher Young walked up to an Amazon Echo speaker to debut the McAfee Secure Home Platform Skill with a simple command: “Alexa, launch McAfee.”

The connected device ecosystem has surpassed the world’s population as hard-to-secure devices like smart refrigerators, televisions, and lightbulbs proliferate within the home, Young said. He ran down a greatest hits of recent exploits—from WannaCry and the Mirai botnet to Meltdown and Spectre—and argued that these threats will never truly go away.

“Attacks are increasing in complexity and scale. No attack ever goes away, instead it morphs and evolves over time. WannaCry looked like a ransomware attack, but it was also a worm taking advantage of a specific exploit that drove chaos across the public and private sectors and was eventually attributed to a nation-state,” said Young. “We’ve also already started to see connected devices weaponized out in the ecosystem. 2016 saw Mirai, the largest DDoS attack ever levied against [DNS provider] Dyn. That same botnet is alive and well today, and attacking a new device right now every six minutes, adding to its botnet armies.”

McAfee Threatscape

Attackers are sharing codebases, changing and combining attacks to find different ways to circumvent security measures. Young called for not only greater cooperation within the cybersecurity community, but clearer guidelines and quality standards for connected device security.

“How will we secure this large-scale connected device ecosystem without stifling growth and innovation at the same time?” asked Young. “Here in 2018, I’m asking you to make cybersecurity our new quality, just like the quality [assurance] movement of the 1980s. We need a J.D. Power equivalent for cybersecurity; an IoT world where…security is inherent in everything we do.”

Ericsson’s Vision for 5G

A year ago, 5G was still a buzzword, but the technology is now nearing mainstream readiness, Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm said today.

5G will demonstrate the value of traditional telecommunications networks, and positions operators at the center of the ecosystem, according to Ekholm, who sees 5G devices coming online early next year and projects a billion subscribers worldwide by 2023.

“A lot of the technologies we talk about today depend on a very strong mobile infrastructure. Even more important than speed, 5G offers lower latency designed for the industrial internet: sensors, remote controls, augmented reality; there are many applications. Consumers will see this with healthcare applications and connected vehicles,” said Ekholm.

Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm

Ekholm mostly sidestepped questions about competitors like Huawei and Nokia, as well as the US debate over a potential nationalized 5G infrastructure and how Chinese President Xi Jinping’s move to stay in power will increase China’s deregulated edge in 5G buildouts over European markets. Factors such as surging data traffic are helping 5G become a commercial reality, but governments need to start thinking about it more as a critical resource for future innovation, he said.

“It’s important for governments around the world to start realizing that mobile and telecommunicaitons infrastructure is a critical national resource. It’s the same way that 100 years ago we built out the railways and roads. We need to start thinking about the industry in a different way.”

How Red Hat Approaches Innovation

Ekholm and Young’s keynotes were followed by Jim Whitehurst, CEO of open-source enterprise software giant Red Hat, who focused on how a company’s culture and philosophy affects innovation. “We live in a much more volatile, uncertain, complex world where our ability to plan in multi-year cycles is really a fool’s errand,” he said.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst at MWC

Red Hat is a leading provider of technologies like Linux, OpenStack, and containers for telcos and enterprises, but it’s model is different than most other business software providers in that it’s 100 percent open source.

Whitehurst, who was previously the COO of Delta Airlines, said organizations need to consider “grafting the DNA” of other companies’ innovation into their existing culture. Innovation cycles are now shorter thanks to technology, and it takes “ideas built on ideas built on ideas” and an open, agile atmosphere to keep up.

“You need to be able to embrace external technologies. The majority of innovation today isn’t happening from vendors. OpenStack, Big Data, machine learning, they’re all open technologies being developed in user-driven communities,” said Whitehurst.

“Most organizations realize they need to inject a greater degree of innovation into their companies, but it’s difficult to figure out exactly how you do it,” he continued. “You need to augment what you’re doing. The winners in the 21st century will be the ones who’s enabled technologies to pivot and react to change.”



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