& cplSiteName &

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        ADD A COMMENT
Light Reading’s Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
NEXT COURSE
Wednesday, September 28, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit 101
Will Barkis, Senior Technology Analyst, Orange
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, September 30, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & the Great Migration
Robert Howald, Vice President, Network Architecture, Comcast
Wednesday, October 5, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & Smart Cities
Joe Kochan, COO & Co-Founder, US Ignite
Friday, October 7, 1:00PM EDT
Gigabit & DOCSIS 3.1
Ty Pearman, Director, Access Architecture, Comcast
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
Global Services: The $40B Face-Off

9|26|16   |   05:53   |   (0) comments


More service providers than ever before are battling it out to win a slice of what is now a $40 billion global communications services pie, explains Ovum Principal Analyst David Molony.
LRTV Documentaries
MEC Congress: The Key Takeaways

9|22|16   |   03:25   |   (3) comments


Three key takeaways from the Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) Congress in Munich, Germany.
Wagner’s Ring
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'

9|22|16   |     |   (12) comments


Service providers can't compete with OTT players. It just isn't in their DNA. Instead, service providers need to embrace what they're good at -- providing reliable, secure connectivity.
Wagner’s Ring
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50

9|21|16   |     |   (13) comments


How do you keep your career moving forward when you're past the half-century mark?
LRTV Interviews
Peering Into the Digital Future

9|20|16   |   04:25   |   (0) comments


Nick Thomas, practice leader of digital media at Ovum, talks about how digital transformation in the technology, media and telecom sectors will enable the development of a new range of applications and services for enterprises and consumers and how the upcoming Digital Futures event in London will examine ...
LRTV Custom TV
Napatech Tackles NFV's Major Challenge

9|7|16   |   08:42   |   (0) comments


One of the main challenges for network operators introducing NFV is to combine performance and flexibility in a cost-effective way, but there is a solution, explains Napatech's Dan Joe Barry.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Optical Innovation 2016

9|6|16   |     |   (0) comments


Highlights of the 2016 Huawei Optical Innovation forum.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Are You Ready for Huawei Connect 2016?

8|31|16   |     |   (0) comments


Join us for an exclusive sneak peak of Huawei Connect, an integrated conference for the global ICT ecosystem taking place in Shanghai.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: UXP's Gemini Waghmare

8|26|16   |     |   (0) comments


Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
LRTV Custom TV
F5 Virtual Network Function Integrations With Partner Orchestration Platform

8|24|16   |   6:38   |   (0) comments


F5's Kishore Patnam, product manager for F5's service provider solutions, discusses why service providers are moving towards virtualization and how his clients are utilizing F5's solutions.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Intel's Alexis Black Bjorlin

8|17|16   |   06:23   |   (0) comments


Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Accelerating Telecom Digital Transformation With Nominum DNS

8|1|16   |   12:04   |   (0) comments


Light Reading's Steve Saunders gets an update from Nominum CEO Gary Messiana on how his company is helping carriers on the digital transformation journey.
Upcoming Live Events
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 1, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York, NY
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
Keeping Your Tech Career Going After 50
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/21/2016
Time to Shut Up About 'Dumb Pipes'
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 9/22/2016
Comcast Will Go Wireless in 2017
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/20/2016
Sprint CEO: We'll Lease Spectrum as Soon as Possible
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/20/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO Steve Saunders and UXP Systems CEO Gemini Waghmare discuss the strategic importance of digital identity for operators in the midst of transformation.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Animals with Phones
You Thought Your Customer Service Was Unreliable... Click Here
Live Digital Audio

A vital part of increasing the number of women in comms is transforming the ways companies can support and empower women. While progressive company policies that support both men and women in achieving work-life balance are a step in the right direction, creating a company culture that supports those policies can at times be more challenging.

During this show, we'll talk to Lynn Comp, Senior Director of Industry and Sales Enabling (ISE) in the Network Platforms Group at Intel, about why those challenges exist and how companies can overcome them. She'll provide insight into how Intel has worked to create a culture that supports work-life balance, and provide steps and guidance for other companies wishing to do the same. We will also leave plenty of time to get your questions answered live on the air.