& 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
From The Founder
The more things change, the more they stay the same for Juniper's next-gen comms solutions, and that's a good thing.
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
Rogers: Millennials Prefer Mobile Video

7|1|16   |     |   (0) comments


Rogers' Upinder Saini explains how millennial viewers favor mobile devices over big TVs and non-conventional TV content over broadcast and cable networks.
LRTV Custom TV
ZTE Pre5G & 5G Solutions

6|30|16   |   02:23   |   (0) comments


At 5G World London, ZTE demonstrated two types of equipment, including 128 antenna Pre5G Massive MIMO and 15GHz high-frequency base stations.
LRTV Custom TV
Energy 2020: Technology Innovation to Fuel Power Efficiency

6|30|16   |   07:21   |   (0) comments


Managing energy costs and consumption as cable operators deploy new services requires new levels of innovation from technology partners. In this video, Dave Fellows, co-founder and CTO of Layer3 TV and chief scientist of the SCTE/ISBE Energy 2020 program, discusses such ambitious objectives as achieving a second 500% increase in efficiency in outside plant ...
LRTV Custom TV
Transitioning to Service Agile Networks

6|30|16   |     |   (0) comments


Packet optical networks are transitioning from proprietary converged systems to open disaggregated platforms. This video will describe the Fujitsu 1FINITY disaggregated platform, explore how 1FINITY interoperates with the Fujitsu FLASHWAVE platform and explain how 1FINITY is designed for software control, like with Fujitsu Virtuora NC.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Nokia's Advancement Plan: Bring Old Skills to New Roles

6|29|16   |   7:57   |   (1) comment


Nokia's Sandy Motley advises women to change their mindsets; get aggressive about advancing their careers; develop strong, diverse support networks; and always bring forth learned skills to take on new challenges and different roles.
Between the CEOs
CEO Chat: Cisco's Yvette Kanouff

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Cisco's Yvette Kanouff for an exclusive in-depth interview.
LRTV Interviews
Comcast: Prepping Next-Gen Video Services

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this LRTV interview, Comcast's Elad Nafshi outlines where MSO stands with cloud DVR, OTT video, college and gigabit services.
LRTV Custom TV
Energy 2020: Creating Unique Standards for Cable's Unique Networks

6|28|16   |   09:30   |   (0) comments


Cable's unique network requirements require a specific set of standards for operators to increase power efficiency, according to Dan Cooper, vice president of critical infrastructure for Charter Communications and chair of the SCTE/ISBE Standards Program's Energy Management Subcommittee, and Ian Oliver, managing director of the Trenchant Group and a member of the ...
LRTV Custom TV
Masergy: 'Now Is the Time for NFV'

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Hear Ray Watson, VP of Global Technology at Masergy, talk about the advantages that enterprises can leverage using Network Function Virtualization (NFV), and how Masergy takes a unique approach to solving customers' problems. For more information on Masergy, please visit www.masergy.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Masergy Leads the Charge With NFV Capabilities

6|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Hear Tim Naramore, CTO at Masergy, talk about how focusing on solving specific customer challenges, providing self-service automation tools and being laser focused on the customer experience has enabled Masergy to be a leader in the NFV space. For more information on Masergy, please visit www.masergy.com.
LRTV Custom TV
Private Company of the Year - Affirmed Networks

6|27|16   |     |   (0) comments


At BCE 2016, Steve Saunders speaks to Hassan Ahmed about Affirmed's success.
LRTV Custom TV
Energy 2020: Growing Services, Not Consumption

6|24|16   |   07:18   |   (0) comments


Management of power requirements needs to be a key consideration as cable operators deploy new services, says Dan Cooper, vice president of critical infrastructure for Charter Communications and chair of the SCTE/ISBE Standards Program's Energy Management Subcommittee. In this video, Cooper discusses the importance of cable operators and technology partners ...
Upcoming Live Events
September 13-14, 2016, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
November 3, 2016, The Montcalm Marble Arch, London
November 30, 2016, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 6-8, 2016,
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A new survey conducted by Heavy Reading and TM Forum shows that CSPs around the world see the move to digital operations as a necessary part of their overall virtualization strategies.
Hot Topics
Brexit: It's Hard to See an Upside
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 6/29/2016
Qualcomm Readies Lower-Band 5G Testbed
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 6/27/2016
Sigfox Said to Face Customer Backlash
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/27/2016
DT Eyes FTTH Solution to German Opex Issue
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/29/2016
Brexit Batters Telefónica's O2 Sale Plans
Iain Morris, News Editor, 6/30/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
In Silicon Valley, Steve Saunders sits down with Cisco's Yvette Kanouff for an exclusive in-depth interview.
At the BCE 2016 show in Austin, ECI Telecom CEO Darryl Edwards tells Light Reading founder and CEO about the Elastic Network concept and the company's NFV and cybersecurity developments.
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

Our world has evolved through innovation from the Industrial Revolution of the 1740s to the information age, and it is now entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by technology. Technology is driving a paradigm shift in the way digital solutions deliver a connected world, changing the way we live, communicate and provide solutions. It can have a powerful impact on how we tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems. In this radio show, Caroline Dowling, President of Communications Infrastructure & Enterprise Computing at Flex, will join Women in Comms Director Sarah Thomas to discuss the impact technology has on society and how it can be a game-changer across the globe; improving lives and creating a smarter world. Dowling, a Cork, Ireland, native and graduate of Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program, will also discuss her experience managing an international team focused on innovation in an age of high-speed change.