Mobile devices are essential to the survival of many businesses these days, but company owners need to balance the benefits of having new technology like LTE and the high costs of the latest devices, writes JAMES MUNN of Qualcomm.
Mobile devices are an increasingly intrinsic tool in the success of all businesses, with employees needing an efficient device that is always on and always connected. It’s a fact that rapidly evolving technology has seen device prices fall while functionality continues to increase. But, business owners subsidising mobile devices for their employees still need to balance the benefits of having the newest tech, like 4G LTE, and the high cost of the latest devices.
As there are now more affordable 4G LTE devices available in South Africa, weighing device functionality and cost is much easier. Qualcomm, global mobile technology innovators, makers of Qualcomm Snapdragon modems and processors, explains why:
Futureproof your tech
Development in 3G technology is increasingly replaced by investment in research and development around 4G LTE. This means that if you choose 3G devices for your business, you’re choosing a phone that offers the best of yesteryear. Choosing a 4G LTE phone to connect your employees means that you’re futureproofing your technology investment.
Access cloud files, faster
With more businesses moving to cloud services, employees on the move need to access documents quickly on their mobile devices, wherever they’re operating from. The modems and processors with support for 4G LTE let you download and send any documents from cloud storage at speeds that are up to ten times faster than 3G.
Choose HD – because it’s the smart thing to do
Viewing or listening to content on a 4G LTE mobile phone or tablet means that users can finally enjoy crisp, clear video and great audio quality on VoIP calls. Mobile devices with 4G LTE are turbocharged with high download speeds and superb responsiveness, so they can stream high quality video or voice that’s quick, sharp and fluid.
Mail, much faster
With mobile devices offering ever-improved email clients, your office is no longer a cubicle in an office building – it is wherever you can carry your mobile device and establish a connection via 4G LTE. Managing mail and documents on a 4G LTE device is quick and efficient.
Data calls are better, clearer
Businesses are moving away from conventional calling to ‘dialling in’ over data, with video calling adding a wonderful, personal dimension to mobile communication. In the past, people avoided data calls because of poor sound quality and erratic connections – but mobile devices with 4G LTE result in clear, audible video meetings in your favourite messaging app.
Browse the web, faster
Web pages are becoming more sophisticated, which means that they’re great to surf when there’s a fast connection – and immensely frustrating when there isn’t. With download speeds that are at least ten times those of 3G, 4G LTE mobile devices allow surfing the web in a fraction of the time, no matter the complexity of the websites visited.
Better battery life
Faster communication over LTE also means that making the most of your mobile device won’t eat into your battery life while you’re waiting for stuff to happen – which means more performance out of every battery charge. If your team is on call 24/7 utilising their mobile devices business tools, businesses could invest in devices with Qualcomm Technologies’ Quick Charge 3.0 technology, which can charge from zero to 60 percent in just 30 minutes.
4G LTE won’t break the budget
Contrary to common perception, 4G LTE devices are not only for the private premium market, with the likes of Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 400, 600 and 800 series processors found in devices in South Africa. Prices of entry level 4G LTE devices are likely to fall even further in the coming months, putting them well within the reach of business budgets that are already stretched.
It’s easy to access 4G LTE
All major South African mobile networks have invested heavily in 4G LTE infrastructure to offer a broader 4G LTE footprint to users. This means that data services are keeping up with the ‘pull’ created by the proliferation of 4G LTE devices in the local market – and that users can rest assured that they will enjoy the full benefits of the service.
Time is money
Downloading or uploading the same amount of data over 4G LTE doesn’t cost more than doing it over 3G. However, 4G LTE delivers your data much faster.
Choosing mobile phones and tablets that use a 4G LTE connection will give businesses the digital clout they need to maximise productivity through seamless browsing, instant downloads, and even slick connections with other Wi-Fi enabled devices around them.
* James Munn, VP of Business Development, Middle East and Africa at Qualcomm International
Which IoT horse should you back?
The emerging IoT is evolving at a rapid pace with more companies entering the market. The development of new product and communication systems is likely to continue to grow over the next few years, after which we could begin to see a few dominant players emerge, says DARREN OXLEE, CTOf of Utility Systems.
But in the interim, many companies face a dilemma because, in such a new industry, there are so many unknowns about its trajectory. With the variety of options available (particularly regarding the medium of communication), there’s the a question of which horse to back.
Many players also haven’t fully come to grips with the commercial models in IoT (specifically, how much it costs to run these systems).
Which communication protocol should you consider for your IoT application? Depends on what you’re looking for. Here’s a summary of the main low-power, wide area network (LPWAN) communications options that are currently available, along with their applicability:
SigFox has what is arguably the most traction in the LPWAN space, thanks to its successful marketing campaigns in Europe. It also has strong support from vendors including Texas Instruments, Silicon Labs, and Axom.
It’s a relatively simple technology, ultra-narrowband (100 Hz), and sends very small data (12 bytes) very slowly (300 bps). So it’s perfect for applications where systems need to send small, infrequent bursts of data. Its lack of downlink capabilities, however, could make it unsuitable for applications that require two-way communication.
LoRaWAN is a standard governed by the LoRa Alliance. It’s not open because the underlying chipset is only available through Semtech – though this should change in future.
Its functionality is like SigFox: it’s primarily intended for uplink-only applications with multiple nodes, although downlink messages are possible. But unlike SigFox, LoRa uses multiple frequency channels and data rates with coded messages. These are less likely to interfere with one another, increasing the concentrator capacity.
Ingenu Technology Solutions has developed a proprietary technology called Random Phase Multiple Access (RPMA) in the 2.4 GHz band. Due to its architecture, it’s said to have a superior uplink and downlink capacity compared to other models.
It also claims to have better doppler, scheduling, and interference characteristics, as well as a better link budget of 177 dB compared to LoRa’s 157 dB and SigFox’s 149 dB. Plus, it operates in the 2.4 GHz spectrum, which is globally available for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so there are no regional architecture changes needed – unlike SigFox and LoRa.
LTE-M (LTE Cat-M1) is a cellular technology that has gained traction in the United States and is specifically designed for IoT or machine‑to‑machine (M2M) communications.
It’s a low‑power wide‑area (LPWA) interface that connects IoT and M2M devices with medium data rate requirements (375 kb/s upload and download speeds in half duplex mode). It also enables longer battery lifecycles and greater in‑building range compared to standard cellular technologies like 2G, 3G, or LTE Cat 1.
Key features include:
· Voice functionality via VoLTE
· Full mobility and in‑vehicle hand‑over
· Low power consumption
· Extended in‑building range
Narrowband IoT (NB‑IoT or LTE Cat NB1) is part of the same 3GPP Release 13 standard3 that defined LTE Cat M1 – both are licensed as LPWAN technologies that work virtually anywhere. NB-IoT connects devices simply and efficiently on already established mobile networks and handles small amounts of infrequent two‑way data securely and reliably.
NB‑IoT is well suited for applications like gas and water meters through regular and small data transmissions, as network coverage is a key issue in smart metering rollouts. Meters also tend to be in difficult locations like cellars, deep underground, or in remote areas. NB‑IoT has excellent coverage and penetration to address this.
The LPWAN technology stack is fluid, so I foresee it evolving more over the coming years. During this time, I suspect that we’ll see:
1. Different markets adopting different technologies based on factors like dominant technology players and local regulations
2. The technologies diverging for a period and then converging with a few key players, which I think will be SigFox, LoRa, and the two LTE-based technologies
3. A significant technological shift in 3-5 years, which will disrupt this space again
So, which horse should you back?
I don’t believe it’s prudent to pick a single technology now; lock-in could cause serious restrictions in the long-term. A modular, agile approach to implementing the correct communications mechanism for your requirements carries less risk.
The commercial model is also hugely important. The cellular and telecommunications companies will understandably want to maximise their returns and you’ll want to position yourself to share an equitable part of the revenue.
So: do your homework. And good luck!
Ms Office hack attacks up 4X
Exploits, software that takes advantage of a bug or vulnerability, for Microsoft Office in-the-wild hit the list of cyber headaches in Q1 2018. Overall, the number of users attacked with malicious Office documents rose more than four times compared with Q1 2017. In just three months, its share of exploits used in attacks grew to almost 50% – this is double the average share of exploits for Microsoft Office across 2017. These are the main findings from Kaspersky Lab’s Q1 IT threat evolution report.
Attacks based on exploits are considered to be very powerful, as they do not require any additional interactions with the user and can deliver their dangerous code discreetly. They are therefore widely used; both by cybercriminals looking for profit and by more sophisticated nation-backed state actors for their malicious purposes.
The first quarter of 2018 experienced a massive inflow of these exploits, targeting popular Microsoft Office software. According to Kaspersky Lab experts, this is likely to be the peak of a longer trend, as at least ten in-the-wild exploits for Microsoft Office software were identified in 2017-2018 – compared to two zero-day exploits for Adobe Flash player used in-the-wild during the same time period.
The share of the latter in the distribution of exploits used in attacks is decreasing as expected (accounting for slightly less than 3% in the first quarter) – Adobe and Microsoft have put a lot of effort into making it difficult to exploit Flash Player.
After cybercriminals find out about a vulnerability, they prepare a ready-to-go exploit. They then frequently use spear-phishing as the infection vector, compromising users and companies through emails with malicious attachments. Worse still, such spear-phishing attack vectors are usually discreet and very actively used in sophisticated targeted attacks – there were many examples of this in the last six months alone.
For instance, in late 2017, Kaspersky Lab’s advanced exploit prevention systems identified a new Adobe Flash zero-day exploit used in-the-wild against our customers. The exploit was delivered through a Microsoft Office document and the final payload was the latest version of FinSpy malware. Analysis of the payload enabled researchers to confidently link this attack to a sophisticated actor known as ‘BlackOasis’. The same month, Kaspersky Lab’s experts published a detailed analysis of СVE-2017-11826, a critical zero-day vulnerability used to launch targeted attacks in all versions of Microsoft Office. The exploit for this vulnerability is an RTF document containing a DOCX document that exploits СVE-2017-11826 in the Office Open XML parser. Finally, just a couple of days ago, information on Internet Explorer zero day CVE-2018-8174 was published. This vulnerability was also used in targeted attacks.
“The threat landscape in the first quarter again shows us that a lack of attention to patch management is one of the most significant cyber-dangers. While vendors usually issue patches for the vulnerabilities, users often can’t update their products in time, which results in waves of discreet and highly effective attacks once the vulnerabilities have been exposed to the broad cybercriminal community,” notes Alexander Liskin, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.
Other online threat statistics from the Q1, 2018 report include:
- Kaspersky Lab solutions detected and repelled 796,806,112 malicious attacks from online resources located in 194 countries around the world.
- 282,807,433 unique URLs were recognised as malicious by web antivirus components.
- Attempted infections by malware that aims to steal money via online access to bank accounts were registered on 204,448 user computers.
- Kaspersky Lab’s file antivirus detected a total of 187,597,494 unique malicious and potentially unwanted objects.
- Kaspersky Lab mobile security products also detected:
- 1,322,578 malicious installation packages.
- 18,912 mobile banking Trojans (installation packages).
To reduce the risk of infection, users are advised to:
- Keep the software installed on your PC up to date, and enable the auto-update feature if it is available.
- Wherever possible, choose a software vendor that demonstrates a responsible approach to a vulnerability problem. Check if the software vendor has its own bug bounty program.
· Regularly run a system scan to check for possible infections and make sure you keep all software up to date.
- Businesses should use a security solution that provides vulnerability, patch management and exploit prevention components, such as Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business. The patch management feature automatically eliminates vulnerabilities and proactively patches them. The exploit prevention component monitors suspicious actions of applications and blocks malicious files executions.