Week in Review: February 28, 2017

by Priscilla Guo

Akamai Releases State of the Internet Report On February 14, Akamai Technologies, Inc. released its Fourth Quarter, 2016 State of the Internet / Security Report. The report uses data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform, which houses more than 2 trillion Internet interactions and defends against cyber attacks, to provide information regarding online connectivity, cybersecurity trends, and metrics. The number of DDoS attacks greater than 100 Gbps increased by 140% since last year and although the total number of DDoS attacks decreased by 16%, the number of IP addresses involved in DDoS attacks rose substantially this quarter. "As we saw with the Mirai botnet attacks during the third quarter, unsecured Internet of Things (IoT) devices continued to drive significant DDoS attack traffic," said Martin McKeay, senior security advocate and senior editor of the report. Of the 25 DDoS attack vectors tracked, the top three were UDP fragment (27%), DNS (21%), and NTP (15%). Finally, the United States remained the top target for web application attacks, with a 72% increase since last quarter’s report.

Alphabet’s Project Loon Uses Machine Learning On February 16, Alphabet Director of Google X Astro Teller announced that: “We can now run an experiment and try to give service in a particular place in the world with 10 or 20 or 30 balloons, not with 200 or 300 or 400 balloons.” Teller was referring to the new machine learning improvements to Project Loon, a proposal to provide Internet access to underserved areas of the world. Originally, the balloons would move around and other balloons would be launched to replace them. But recently, the X lab equipped balloons with navigational systems that employed machine learning to detect patterns in the atmosphere and adjust course to stay in the same general area. Using Gaussian Processes, or GPs, the balloons can predict atmospheric conditions and generate a path with only small amounts of data. Furthermore, the balloons can self-correct during their flight paths using reinforcement learning, another artificial intelligence technique. With fewer balloons required, Project Loon has become more economically feasible and capable of bringing more people online.

AT&T and China Mobile Work Together on Internet of Things AT&T and China Mobile have agreed to collaborate to bring the Internet of Things to China. AT&T has over 1.3 billion customers on its 4G network, making it the largest 4G network in the world. According to Bernstein Research, 59% of all mobile subscribers in China are using 4G networks run by China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom. The two telecom giants will be developing a new platform that will be able to transfer an AT&T IoT subscription over to China Mobile’s local service. By simplifying the service requirements, AT&T business customers will be able to more efficiently expand their businesses into the Chinese market, developing new revenue streams. Accenture estimates that measures to improve Chinese adoption of IoT technologies will translate to a 1.3% increase in the country’s GDP by 2030, adding up to $1.8 trillion to the Chinese economy.

FCC Chairman Continues to Reverse Predecessor’s Regulations On February 24, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai halted the rollout of his predecessor Tom Wheeler’s new privacy rules for Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The rules required ISPs to disclose to customers both the type of information that is collected and how it is being used or shared with other companies. In some cases, ISPs would need to receive consumer consent to use the data. These rules, approved by the FCC in October, were set to go into effect on March 2. In contrast, Internet companies such as Google and Facebook are not affected by the privacy rules and several telecom companies have filed petitions to challenge the new regulations. "Chairman Pai believes that the best way to protect the online privacy of American consumers is through a comprehensive and uniform regulatory framework," a spokesman for the chairman said. "All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, and the federal government shouldn't favor one set of companies over another." This decision is one of the most current moves by Republican FCC Chairman Pai to reverse the regulations set in place by former Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler.

ITU Announces Arrival of 5G in 2020 On February 24, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) published key performance requirements of 5G Technologies for IMT-2020, which is a target date for the International Mobile Telecommunication system. Previously, the telecom industry hadn’t collectively defined what 5G is. As a user, you should get 100Mbps download speeds and 50Mbps for uploads. In other words, mobile service should be comparable to a good home Internet connection. Cell sites should be able to handle 1 million or more devices per square kilometer. You can read the rest of the requirements here.