Amazon Blimp

Things in IoT You Need To Know This Week: January 2 to 6

Amazon is mulling the use of blimp-based warehouses for deliveries. Also this week, the federal government is hoping to use the power of competition to make U.S. consumers and computer systems safer from hacking, future updates to nuclear arsenal could add cybersecurity risk, a new router may be the answer to securing smart home devices, and a Tesla Autopilot success is caught on tape.

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Amazon Floats New Idea for Drone Delivery

Delivery-by-drone has been a long stated goal of online-retail giant Amazon and, based on last month’s UK demo, one the company will accomplish in the near-term. Based on patent filings, reported on by the Washington Post last week, Amazon’s longer-term goal could involve “airborne fulfillment centers” held aloft by giant airships. While this idea sounds straight out of sci-fi, the patent filings argue that these mobile warehouses (in conjunction with drone delivery) could dramatically shorten the time between order and delivery by hovering near population centers or crowded events.

The FTC Wants to Pay Developers to Fix the IoT Security Problem

To address the challenge of securing older connected devices, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is launching a competition to inspire developers to create patches to safeguard consumer devices. The winner will receive $25,000. With broad parameters, designers have considerable room for creativity but little time for experimentation as the winning idea will be chosen in July.

Network-connected Missiles Pose Unique Security Challenge

Of the many devices set to become connected to the cloud in the near future, nuclear missiles could be a few of them, according to the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Per the Atlantic, one of the board’s tasks for 2017 will be to study and address the security challenges posed by a nuclear arsenal that is linked via a network to the rest of the defense system. The study comes as the Department of Defense is faced with a nuclear arsenal that has not been updated in over four decades, a President-elect who has (in a break with decades of nuclear weapons policy) indicated support for developing more U.S. nuclear capabilities, and growing concern about vulnerability to cyber attacks.

New Router by Norton Seeks to Protect Devices at the Source

This week, anti-virus software maker Norton announced that it would begin selling the Norton Core, a home router designed to monitor network traffic and protect vulnerable devices from malware. The move comes as developers and the government alike (see FTC competition above) are scrambling to secure devices against malicious activity. In this case, rather than patching security updates to individual devices (especially more difficult ones, like smart thermostats and kitchen appliances), the Core will track and block suspicious activity.

Tesla Autopilot May Have Predicted Crash

Autonomous car maker Tesla is getting some good publicity this week as a recently publicized dash cam video from one of the company’s cars appears to show the vehicle’s Autopilot system predicting and responding to the crash of another vehicle. The video, which can be viewed in this article from the Huffington Post, shows the Autopilot system beeping and beginning to break seconds before the vehicle ahead crashes into a guardrail. The company suffered some negative attention last year after the self-driving mode on the Tesla Model S was linked to several driver deaths.

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