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UK National Security and Narrowband IoT

Huawei developed a city-aware network using a "one network, one platform, N application" construction model utilising IoT, cloud computing, big data, and other next-generation information and communications technology.  It aims to be one of the world's five largest cloud players in the near future.  Originally Narrowband IoT was a standard developed by 3GPP for mobile phone devices and networks. 

 

3GPP is a 'standards' organisation for developing protocols for mobile telephony most notably 2G, 3G, GPRS and now 5G technology.  In terms of structure, 3GPP is a consortium of seven larger telecommunications firms spread across the USA, China, Europe, Japan and Korea.  These firms are known as Organizational Partners and they in turn can invite market representatives within each group.  The theory is that this creates a forum, or method by which 3GPP can develop consensus views as to where the needs within the sector are and what areas should attract more time and resources.  That is the theory.  So far so good.  At the top of the 3GPP structure is the Project Coordination Group (PCG), which is the highest decision-making body and essentially decides where the resources are directed.  Generally speaking of course, the 'man on the street' is not likely to have heard of the PCG and is certainly not aware of the power such an organisation can command in terms of dictating the direction of communications technology.  From a political perspective, and with National Security in mind, this topic in itself can take up many web pages of analysis.  That will come later, for now the focus is on where we are currently placed from a technological perspective.

This is a phrase and a technology the GP will come to know very well, very soon.  The question is, what is it and is the technology as "shoddy' and poorly constructed as our friend at GCHQ leads us to believe?  Sure, the days of their reverse engineering superiority might now take a back seat to what has been immense R&D investment in recent years, but is the quality of the casing and hardware at Huawei really that bad?  Narrowband is a new low power wide area (LPWA) technology specifically developed for the Internet of Things.  To understand its power and the power of those who control it, one needs to understand more fully what the target or purpose of its design is ....namely  the Internet of Things.  This is after all a balancing act of sorts, a power struggle.  Those seeking greater power from greater control, by providing people with less control of the 'things' in their own life.  Of course the end users (us) will consider the IOT as part of a labour saving process whereby pieces of hardware, software or the processes they create, eventually lead to greater benefits.  There is little doubt this is the case and will continue to be so.  The advances in medical care, agriculture, industry, general living and in fact every aspect of life are profound.  Just as the introduction of the internet was to information collection or AI is to systems and processes.  Generally the most obvious flip side has been the impact on privacy, corruption and fraud and hugely artificial accelerated evolution in society, partly through social media and its off-shoots.  So what will be the 'flip side' to the Internet of Things and therefore, ergo, what will the controllers of narrowband or the next technologies have at their disposal?  Ultimately, if we give up privacy (albeit prompted by religious/political events such as terrorism and the need to control others), and we give in to automation then the next step is the transference of control.  Not a new phenomenon granted, but a pattern we are accustomed to and a game which will inevitably play out further.

Philosophical arguments aside, what are the hard facts and what are we actually facing?  This is not a science based website and the writer is certainly no Oppenheimer, so forgive the simplicity.  The purpose here is to explore the potential areas for abuse and threats to UK National Security as a result of this new technology.  Sometimes, that does require a different perspective which, although built on a solid technological foundations also allows for the role human behaviour, politics and religion (and culture) play in corrupting the technology and innovation.

What is Narrowband NB- IoT?

The original definition of "Narrowband" itself is derived from early radio communication where narrowband describes a channel in which the bandwidth of the message does not significantly exceed the channel's coherence bandwidth.  The coherence bandwidth is simply a measurement of the range of frequencies over which the channel can be considered "flat" i.e 'Narrow'.

This has led on to the development of Narrowband IoT which is a LPWAN or a Low Power Wide Area Network.  The LPWAN in turn is designed to allow longer range communications at a low bit rate among things or objects.  The low power, low bit rate and intended use distinguish this type of network from a wireless WAN which is a "wider" network that is designed to connect users or businesses, and carry more data, using more power.

In essence less is less is long.  Lower bit, lower power more range.  Most importantly however, it is LOW COST.  Put simply then, it means for less investment and resources, with a lower power usage we can communicate at longer ranges and replace the wider area network.  Scientists and tech bods will no doubt shudder at this simplistic definition, but to us normal folk, it really is that simple.

The Project Coordination Group of 3GPP

Huawei developed a city-aware network using a "one network, one platform, N application" construction model utilising IoT, cloud computing, big data, and other next-generation information and communications technology.  It aims to be one of the world's five largest cloud players in the near future.  Originally Narrowband IoT was a standard developed by 3GPP for mobile phone devices and networks. 

 

3GPP (the Third Generation Partnership Project) is a 'standards' organisation for developing protocols for mobile telephony most notably 2G, 3G, GPRS and now 5G technology.  In terms of structure, 3GPP is a consortium of seven larger telecommunications firms (see below) spread across the USA, China, Europe, Japan and Korea.  These firms are known as Organizational Partners and they in turn can invite market representatives within each group.  The theory is that this creates a forum, or method by which 3GPP can develop consensus views as to where the needs within the sector are and what areas should attract more time and resources.  That is the theory.  So far so good.  At the top of the 3GPP structure is the Project Coordination Group (PCG), which is the highest decision-making body and essentially decides where the resources are directed.  Generally speaking of course, the 'man on the street' is not likely to have heard of the PCG and is certainly not aware of the power such an organisation can command in terms of dictating the direction of communications technology.  From a political perspective, and with National Security in mind, this topic in itself can take up many web pages of analysis.  For now, we examine the basic power structure and the reality of what controls the PCG has.

Specifically, the PCG has responsibility for:

  • Determination of overall time-frame and management of overall work progress.

  • Final adoption of work items within the agreed 3GPP scope.

  • Allocation of budgeted human and financial resources to each TSG as provided by Organisational Partners.

  • Allocation of additional voluntary human and/or financial resources to each TSG as provided by Individual Members.

  • Appointment of PCG Chairman

Although certainly points one and two are important, the most fundamental power concerns the allocation of "financial resources" to each TSG.  This instantly begs the questions, what financial resources and where do these resources come from? We will come onto that a little later.

In terms of who is in the PCG and who controls them (at least appears to), the key personnel at the top are elected individuals from a variety of backgrounds, namely;

Chairman                               Wang ZHIQIN      

ViceChairman                        Seiji NISHIOKA

ViceChairman                        Luis Jorge ROMERO

ViceChairman                        Susan MILLER

Secretary                                Adrian SCRASE

The organisations these individuals come from are;

W. Zhiqin  -  CCSA                 

The China Communications Standards Association

 

S. Nishioka  -  ARIB               

The Association of Radio Industries and Businesses

L.R. Romero  -  ETSI             

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute

 

S. Miller  -  ATIS                     

The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions

 

A. Scrase  -  3GPP

3GPP Support                               -

So who are the 'magnificant seven' or the firms that make up the 3GPP.  The seven telecommunications standard development organizations (ARIB, ATIS, CCSA, ETSI, TSDSI, TTA, TTC), are also known as “Organizational Partners” and they provide their members with a stable environment to produce the Reports and Specifications that define 3GPP technologies.

3GPP specifications and studies are contribution-driven, by member companies, in Working Groups and at the Technical Specification Group (TSG) level.  The three TSG's in 3GPP are;

  • Radio Access Networks (RAN),

  • Services & Systems Aspects (SA),

  • Core Network & Terminals (CT) 

These TSGs, meet regularly and come together for their quarterly TSG Plenary meeting, where their work is presented for information, discussion and approval.  Each TSG in turn has a particular area of responsibility for the Reports and Specifications within its own Terms of Reference (Details available in the Specification Groups on the 3GPP website which, for the time being, is currently not working.  Ironically they seem to be having communication and IT issues).

Research is currently being compiled and will be available on the site shortly.  So far, the objective is to simply and succinctly outline the key organisers in the market and draw some lines to connect a few, less than obvious dots.  This will add more texture and layers to what might be an interesting painting....visit soon.

The Remora Principle
The CEO at Patrium Intelligence (one of our appointed Private Intelligence Agencies) recently coined the term "The Remora Principle" and how it describes a method of operating within Secret Intelligence globally.  The phrase to 'operate within the shadows' is often used, however the Remora Principle outlines in specific detail how effective intelligence gathering is achieved by not only staying within the shadows of a larger, more distracting element, but to move with it.  It provides key steps Intelligence Agents should take to ensure effective information gathering and reporting to officers, and focuses more on modern technological advancement.  By following the steps outlined within the Remora Principle, one is able to then tailor specific actions that are applicable to individual operations.
Q: Can we induce an event which leads to a material and significant change in a person’s ability or behaviour which would be useful to an organisation such as MI6?

Straps yourselves in for a little bit of a wild ride, so if extreme sports of the academic or indeed philosophical kind are not your thing, then please unbuckle now and leave the park. The four terms used in the title would appear at first glance to be connected, but for the purposes of this article, are not.  There is a distinct, and key difference in that they refer to a journey of sorts.  The journey of the mind and neural functionality that eventually leads to a change which has been caused by an ‘event’. Each term describes a condition.  A condition of the brain at a point in the journey. 

Where did my Taxi Driver and my money go?”

 

Whenever there is a radical and rapid development in Technology, the voices of those who fear the human effects of such developments sing loud.  Of course, debate is ultimately a healthy proposition when conducted in the correct manner i.e a respectful exchange of ideas, evidence and facts to determine the truth or at least the likelihood of why ‘something’ happens.  The problem is that as we venture further up the emotional curve and hit the raw nerve of public consciousness, a healthy debate, absent of extreme views, is less and less likely.   This is quite possibly the stage we are at now when it comes to the vast changes of technological development at exponential rates of growth.  If one then throws into the mix a subject such as Artificial Intelligence, which has been the subject of many a doomsday prophecy, especially in the fictional world, then the prediction of likely effects  becomes distorted.  There are a vast number of capillaceous issues branching out from each topic within AI and on a scale which precludes us from analysis in this article due to time.  However, there are rarely more topics as emotive as a person's job and their ability to generate income in order to survive...so will driverless cars render the taxi driver extinct and will money even be necessary in any form? Read More. 13.08.19

Dark Web

An Opportunity or Threat?

Perceived wisdom suggests the Dark Web is synonymous with illegal activities involving weapons, drugs and pedophiia.  The assumption has been that if you use it, then you have something sinister to hide.  To be fair, closure of drug giants like "Silk Road" did nothing to change those perceptions.  However, in the big brother world of surveillance, the search for privacy is demanded by the majority and will be found in some way or another.  Furthermore, in a society where people are being increasingly attracted to the fringes of life,  the shift to increasing usage of the Dark Web is a given.  That does not mean it is wrong however, and as we often witness, it is people from the 'fringes' who sometimes operate outside of social norms, who provide the greatest sources of innovation.  We firmly believe the dark web will undergo an upgrade of sorts and although usual, non-secured browser based sites will attract some attention, their days are numbered.  The really exciting proposition is to predict Dark Web 2.0, 3.0 and so on. Rather ironically, but understandably, it is the law enforcement and intelligence agencies who are spending more and more resources on hiding within the shadows of the Dark Web.  It has been the most effective way so far.  However, as it grows, it will it continue to be the safe haven of the criminal or will some form of regulation (such as was with the legalisation of drugs etc), prevent the extreme offenders?  Take the example of Silk Road. It is not only possible, it is probable.  Whether you are in favour of legalisation generally or not,  in many cases it is a safer option.  Many of the sites that offered Marijuana were ran as slick commercial organisations where consumer satisfaction was paramount.  The product was therefore of superior quality (apparently) and it was offered within the relative safety of the internet and not some dark street corner.  Maybe that one is for the liberals out there.  For our purposes however, it shows that the deep dark web does actually have a USP which can be monetized, namely privacy.  Looking further head therefore, the real drug that will sell well in our 'Orwellian' future, is anonymity.  That will undoubtedly be the most precious of commodities.

 

As it stands now however, people and the societies they live in tend to display tendencies to self-regulate and yes, whilst there is always potential for abuse, the masses will (or should) drive the market to some degree of parity.  There are certainly huge opportunities around the corner.  A secured 'blockchain'esque' physical depository for parcel delivery is bound to happen on a large scale and accompany the growth of the Dark Web.  That is because the only chink in its armour at the moment is complete anonymity with delivery of items. Imagine a secure facility where parcels (aka Data) entering from one side, is subjected to 'scrambling' (aka 'Encryption') and leave the other side to be collected by a seemingly unconnected party (aka 'You').  Now multiply that across every City in the UK.  You then have what one can REALLY call an encrypted, secure, supply chain that would be undetectable to all agencies and, most importantly, legal  Read More.

Innovation, technology and the military are inextricably linked, and throughout history whenever there is a technological breakthrough, one of the first beneficiaries is invariably the military.  Whether it is recent developments such as GPS, or much later, Galileo selling telescopes to Italian monasteries to see enemy ships approaching, the human desire to conquer or defend is paramount. With the 'genie' firmly out of the bottle, Artifical Intelligence will become a 'game changer' in the Military world as for many, the upsides are simply too strong to worry about potentially disastrous consequences.  Here we take a look at the detail and the precise areas of growth just around the corner.Read More

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