In the aftermath of Mirai, US senators propose massive IoT legislation

4 Aug 2017

The US Capitol building in Washington DC. Image: Nicole S Glass/Shutterstock

A new bill put forward to the US Senate wants to set basic security standards for IoT in the wake of last year’s Mirai attacks.

From an Irish perspective, the biggest piece of news this week from the internet of things (IoT) world was the funding and jobs boost at Dublin-based Wia.

With a fresh round of funding to the tune of €750,000, led by Suir Valley Ventures and Enterprise Ireland, Wia now wants to build its team as well as its technology platform.

Future Human

The company – a former Start-up of the Week on – is focusing on launching its latest product, incorporating the world’s first off-the-shelf IoT billing system later this year.

Here’s what has been going on elsewhere in the world.

US bill launched to set basic standard for IoT security

In October of last year, millions of US internet users lost access to popular online sites such as Twitter, Spotify, Reddit and CNN because of the Mirai botnet, which recruited unsecured IoT devices and marshalled them into a massive DDoS attack.

Now, the US government is attempting to make sure similar events don’t happen in the future with the introduction of a bill that would create a set of basic security standards for IoT devices, ranging from mobile phones to security cameras.

According to Krebs on Security, the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2017 outlines that all IoT device vendors owned by the government should have the latest security patches as well as confirmation that the devices have no vulnerabilities when purchased.

Cybersecurity is also a major focus of the bill, proposing the removal of a dated law that makes the efforts of white-hat hackers more difficult as they could face prosecution in some cases for trying to sniff out vulnerabilities.

Tim Cook says autonomous software isn’t just for cars

Despite some public setbacks, Apple is still on course to develop its own autonomous vehicle technology, and even some actual cars.

According to The Verge, CEO Tim Cook hinted in a recent call with investors that the technology Apple is working on might not just be for the road.

“[Autonomous] systems can be used in a variety of ways,” Cook said. “A vehicle is only one, but there are many different areas of it. And I don’t want to go any further with that.

“We are very focused on autonomous systems. We do have a large project going and are making a big investment in this. From our point of view, autonomy is sort of the mother of all AI projects.”

What exactly the other uses of autonomous technology are remains to be seen, but we might be in line for greater advancements in personal assistants and other artificial intelligence platforms within iPhones.

Chinese firm to launch IoT network on the ‘New Silk Road’

As part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s $100bn One Belt, One Road programme – designed to create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road – a new IoT network is being formed at ThingPark China, a major sci-tech district in the country.

In collaboration with one of the country’s largest media groups, ThingPark China will launch a test network spanning 23 sq km in Xi’an, in the district of Beilin, the historic starting point of the Silk Road.

The organisation said the network will initially be used for environmental monitoring, which it believes will unlock the potential for huge social and economic benefits for the region.

“We’re excited to launch such a pivotal project, which is set to bring unprecedented socioeconomic benefits to Xi’an, and fuel the advancement of the Belt and Road initiative,” said ThingPark China’s CEO, Bing Liu.

“IoT will play an integral role in building the Silk Road into a modern-day transport corridor, as digital transformation is a vital part of modern infrastructure projects; and the huge economic and social benefits brought about by IoT will soon be felt on both a regional and a global scale.”

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The US Capitol building in Washington DC. Image: Nicole S Glass/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic