Light Reading
Security concerns are changing procurement strategies, claims ATCA platform vendor.

Kontron Capitalizes on Security Jitters

Carolyn Mathas
News Analysis
Carolyn Mathas
2/20/2014
50%
50%

Is it true that telecom equipment companies are basing their purchasing decisions on where the design and development of components and modules takes place?

According to embedded computing platform developer Kontron AG , which undertakes its design and R&D processes in Montreal, Canada, it's already happening: The company, best known for its AdvancedTCA (ATCA) range of modules, claims it's wrestling business away from (unidentified) competitors that have design and development exposure in Asia/Pacific, particularly China.

And if that's more than just a one-off, the implications could be huge for telecom systems vendors and their suppliers.

Sven Freudenfeld, Business Development, Telecom for North America at Kontron, says that, increasingly, customers initiate discussion on where engineering takes place. "As we go further into cloud computing, trust is necessary to build platforms that will be deployed in the cloud. Moving the central office to the cloud where carriers no longer have access to hardware, they're forced to rely on what they don’t control," says Freudenfeld.

"When carriers owned their network hardware, they could handle situations as they arose -- they could see and identify an actual breach," adds Freudenfeld. "Now, with discovery left to third parties, reaction time is stretched out substantially. Carriers are demanding all network platforms -- interfaces, software, firmware, hardware -- be secure."

And for some (many?), China is regarded as posing a security threat, either directly or indirectly. Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) know all about that: They are on the 'not trusted' list in the US, preventing them from supplying telecom equipment to the federal government or US companies. The main concern is that technology developed in China might include hidden back doors that would be used to either eavesdrop or disrupt networks, though no concrete evidence has been forthcoming. (See Nearly Everyone Trusts Us – Huawei CEO, US vs Huawei/ZTE: The Verdict and China Lashes Out at 'Cold War Mentality'.)

Customer concerns are not limited to just steering clear of China, though. Systems vendors are delving deeper into basic design methodology -- how network products are developed. Freudenfeld says there's a need for greater focus on: the design and creation of platforms with security as a central element; regulatory compliance; and the ability to identify weak points in a network.

There are many such weak points, he claims, and these will become more obvious with the introduction of virtualization, for example, or machine-to-machine (M2M) implementations, as each layer and each machine becomes a potential weakness.

And virtualization is going to happen: Indeed, Kontron is embracing it. (See Kontron Integrates OpenStack.)

There's reason to believe that virtualization is a major security concern. At the 2013 RSA Conference in San Francisco, the Cloud Security Alliance identified the Notorious Nine -- the top nine cloud computing threats for 2013. Of the top three concerns, number one is data breaches. In this case, a virtual machine, for example, could use side-channel timing data to extract private cryptographic keys in use by other virtual machines on the same server. The report indicated that one single client application flaw could allow a hacker access to all of the data -- not just that one client's.

The second top concern is data loss -- the kind where data is here and, then, well, it's not. Finally, account or service traffic hijacking. Once a hacker accesses credentials, eavesdropping on transactions and activities, data manipulation, information falsification, and moving clients to illegitimate sites, are all possible.

What cloud computing has done by concentrating a wealth of assets is magnify the consequences of breaches. On one hand, it's a bastion of data sharing -- on the other, a potential nightmare.

"Regulation will be especially important with telecom equipment and delivering the cloud. While there's great potential for software-defined anything --infrastructure, radio, networks -- there’s always a security element," Freudenfeld explained. While working groups and regulatory bodies exist, more progress will be necessary over the near and long term.

The security threat perception isn't limited to China, though, especially amid the NSA headlines and the FBI’s request for Facebook and Google to enable access for US government surveillance. (See Obama Weighs In on NSA Data Collection, Euronews: Merkel's Mad as Hell at NSA and NSA Humor Tops Congressional Hubris.)

Actually implementing back doors, or deliberately compromised telecom equipment, is very rare. It's the accidental vulnerabilities that are more common. But it's not that difficult to believe that Kontron customers are indeed citing security fears for a shift in procurement processes, especially as technology developments move faster than security advances and implementations can keep up with. Technical defenses may still be inadequate or not sufficiently implemented -- and that may leave non-technical ones, such as specifying that design and development take place in a more trusted environment, as the only immediate way to begin to alleviate fears.

— Carolyn Mathas, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sales Director of INIT on Plug & Play Switch Devices

9|19|14   |   3:21   |   (0) comments


INIT Italy uses both the Huawei S5700 and S7700 series switches for the campus LAN environment. Sales Director Andrea Curti says their company chose these Huawei devices over others because of their performance, flexible scalability and plug-and-play features.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Saudi Arabia Upgrades Vocational Training System

9|19|14   |   3:31   |   (0) comments


The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC) has 100,000 students, 150 government-owned institutions and oversees 1000 private institutes. The CIO of TVTC explains that Huawei devices have allowed them to manage multiple datacenters using just one software program, scientifically tracking the progress of students and teachers, saving them millions.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Media Solutions Are Here to Stay

9|19|14   |   4:35   |   (0) comments


The current media revolution requires rapid upgrades in technology. New formats (HD, 3D, 4K etc.) and the subsequent explosion of file sizes demand sophisticated network and storage architecture. Social media and the multiple distribution channels require a robust asset management system. Gartner analyst Venecia Liu speaks about the current technological trends in ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Microgenesis on Huawei's Switches

9|19|14   |   3:57   |   (0) comments


Microgenesis is a solutions and system integrator company in the Philippines whose areas of expertise include data centers, networking and security products. In this video, Executive Director Jeffrey Choa talks to us about his customers needs and they benefit from using Huawei switches.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Network Solutions Help the Philippines Jump Ahead

9|17|14   |   2:59   |   (0) comments


In the past, the Philippines has under-invested in technology. Now, the CEO of Softshell talks about how Huawei products help the Philippines jump ahead as the economy improves.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
VCS Observation for Safer Cities in the Netherlands

9|17|14   |   5:20   |   (0) comments


Holland's VCS Observation has been operating for 22 years. Its main goal is to get cities safer. CEO Wim van Deijzen tells us some of the challenges his company faces and how Huawei is helping to overcome these challenges.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
A Conversation With Serbia's Ministry of Interior

9|17|14   |   4:38   |   (0) comments


At HCC 2014, the Assistant Minister of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Serbia talks to us about his projects and corporation with Huawei. Solutions like Safe City and E-Government and services like cloud computing are just some of the areas his department is interested in.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (1) comment


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
Upcoming Live Events
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Photos: Qualcomm Takes Over San Francisco
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/19/2014
Exclusive: Microwave Maven Exalt Is Cooked
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/22/2014
NFV & The Data Center: Top 10 Takeaways
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/18/2014
EMC Mulls Merger With HP or Dell – Reports
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2014
Pics: LR's Women in Telecom Breakfast
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/16/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed