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MWC: 5G Cloud will help telcos get to “5G-ready”

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At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, VMware announced a comprehensive 5G Telco Cloud platform that will support both 4G and 5G, helping service providers get to “5G-Ready” faster.

“5G is at a massive inflection point, and planning decisions made today will have far reaching financial and operational ramifications for CSPs going forward,” said Shekar Ayyar, executive vice president, strategy and corporate development and general manager, Telco NFV Group, VMware.

“By moving away from the inflexible, hardware-defined architectures of the past, and rolling out 5G as a fully-virtualised architecture right out of the gate, telcos will be able to beat competitors to market with new value-added services and improve the performance and operational efficiencies of their networks.”

VMware announced new and enhanced solutions spanning the company’s telco portfolio that help ease migration to 5G without sacrificing performance or monetisation of existing networks. These include:

  • VMware Smart Assurance 10, which will provide full integration with VMware vCloud NFV, VMware’s NFV Infrastructure (NFVI) platform, along with new carrier-oriented advancements in VMware NSX-T Data Centre.
  • VMware NSX-T Data Centre, a core component of vCloud NFV that provides a software network overlay across the complete NFV infrastructure and supports multiple telco use cases. The new VMware NSX-T 2.4 release delivers higher levels of cloud-scale, operational simplicity, resiliency, and performance. This includes IPv6 support, near line-rate speed, high availability, and scalability to tens-of-thousands of unique networks per NSX-T Data Centre instance.
  • VMware HCX, which enables CSPs to build hybrid highways interconnecting heritage infrastructure and 5G environments on which commercial OpenStack ecosystem workloads can be migrated to the new distributed, multi-cloud architecture. VMware HCX delivers migration capabilities that can be integrated into Day 1 and Day 2 operations, helping CSPs seamlessly mobilise the applications to 5G with minimum downtime. VMware Integrated OpenStack (VIO), with VMware’s support for Kubernetes orchestration capabilities complement VMware HCX in delivering migration and multi-cloud connectivity.
  • *Project Photon has released Photon OS 3.0, a minimal lightweight Linux operating system (OS), that provides an open, flexible, and stable foundation for edge, IoT, and modern application environments.
  • VMware Pulse IoT Centre and Photon OS can now support multiple IoT use cases across the value chain of organisations with a consistent, secure and scalable infrastructure. Running the VMware Pulse IoT Centre agent with Photon OS on IoT devices enhances the security of these otherwise highly vulnerable devices with certificate, DNS, and security token services. Additionally, VMware Pulse IoT Centre’s over-the-air update capabilities can deliver security patches and BIOS updates to IoT devices as well as updates to the Photon OS running on edge devices. VMware Pulse IoT Centre and Photon OS also support the implementation of containerised applications such as data analytics and data filtering, among others, close to the point of data origination in IoT use cases.

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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