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4 Top Questions About the Future of Cellular Networks in IoT

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Recently, Digi Product Marketing Manager, Andrew Lund and Senior Product Manager, Brent Nelson sat down with M2M Zone for an in-depth discussion about connectivity types in the IoT space, next-generation cellular networks, and what it all means for your IoT/M2M applications.

There were so many great questions from attendees that we wanted to share our top 4 questions with Andrew and Brent’s responses. Additionally, you can watch the webinar in full by clicking the video at the end of this post. 

1. How does LTE-Cat 1 compare with LTE-M and NB-IoT?
Brent: So LTE-Cat 1 is available now. LTE-Cat 1 is essentially 3G type of speed, it’s a scale down from typical LTE. It does not have the power saving modes that you will get in the two narrow band standards that I mentioned, but it does bring down the cost of the module significantly. So I view LTE 1, which again is available now, as kind of the first time you could put LTE in a machine-to-machine product and not price yourself out of the market because you really didn’t need LTE.

LTE-Cat M then drops down to 2G speeds, and that’s where you start seeing the power saving modes. And narrow band IoT is sub-2G speeds, it’s sub-100 kilobytes per second and an increased battery life. So that’s kind of the progression of the different networks.

2. So where will the IoT application typically reside in the LPWAN market? Will it be inside or outside the narrow band centered device, or both?
Brent: So in general, it’s always going to depend on the use case, as you get lower and lower power, you’ve got lower and lower processing. So you’ve got typically less intelligence on the edge and more intelligence in the cloud. It’s all about getting the data up to the cloud as inexpensively as possible.

Andrew: I was going to say the same thing. I think the other notion would be to take a security angle on it. Given that there may be limited power, limited processing, and limited memory on the edge, I think there’s also the notion that there’s limited ability to defend against security threats, potentially. And so, like you said, getting the data to the cloud in a safe and reliable way is the most important thing.

3. Will the new Cat M and NB-IoT use regular SIM cards?
Brent: Yes, although I think you’ll see much more of a move to the embedded SIMs as we go forward. I guess I’m not 100% positive of how the technology will support that, but I know generally in the market you’ll see more and more moves to embedded SIMs versus the standard kind of SIM that shows up in a credit card format.

4. Do the current M2M management platforms need to be upgraded to work with these new technologies?
Andrew: So, “upgraded” can mean a lot of different things. But it seems to me that to the extent that a new LPWAN technology provides insight into what’s going on at the network level, at the physical level in terms of RF quality, packet loss latency, and so forth. If there’s something interesting that LPWAN technology can tell a management platform about what’s going on in the field, then that management platform would need to be upgraded to take full advantage of that. That’s how I would approach that.

Brent: The management platforms understand that these devices are not always reachable. And things like timeouts where I didn’t get a response versus in this amount of time, when you get to those lower power, higher latency devices that might break your system. And we see that as we look at our router products which are connected all the time versus our battery-powered IoT products which connect very rarely.

The management platforms can handle it, but sometimes the mentality of the user can’t because they expect things to be connected all the time, and that’s just not going to be the case with the battery IoT products.

And that might be the case with certain, even like SCADA systems that expect the device to be connected all the time. And if it’s not, they error out. So I can see some updates required in those type of systems.

Watch the full webinar below:

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4 FAQs for Your First Digi XBee® Cellular Development Kit

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Digi XBee Cellular is the latest member of the Digi XBee family, a family that includes a wide range of RF protocols and standards designed to meet the needs of users, makers, and Original Equipment Manufactures (OEMs). These wireless modules have evolved into generations of series options to choose from depending on the application, firmware configuration, hardware design, and networking protocol.

Supported by the Digi XBee ecosystem, Digi XBee Cellular is not just hardware, but includes software (XCTU for configurations), and libraries of resources, community and support services (WDS for antenna design). But, the primary benefit of Digi XBee Cellular is that it is pre-certified and ready for OEMs to quickly and securely integrate cellular connectivity into their solutions and devices. While still sharing the same Digi XBee footprint and software interface across many wireless technologies, users have the design flexibility to switch between wireless protocols or frequencies as needed.

We know designing devices with cellular connectivity that meets the compliance standards of cellular carriers presents its challenges. This is why we designed the Digi XBee Cellular development kit to make is simple and quick for OEMs, hardware and software engineers, corporate technologist, educators, and students to successfully integrate embedded cellular.

Below are frequently asked questions and answers to get started with your first Digi XBee Cellular dev kit, and did we mention 6 months of free data?

1. What’s in the Digi XBee Cellular Development Kit?
• Digi XBee Cellular LTE Cat 1 embedded modem
• 1 Digi XBee development board
• 1 LTE Cat 1 SIM for Verizon
• 6 months of free cellular service
• Antennas and power supply

2. If only one antenna is used, will the Digi XBee Cellular Modem still be carrier end-device certified?
Yes. The modem has been certified for both single and dual antenna configurations. More information on antenna specification requirements can be found in the User Guide. And, Digi WDS can help with integrated antenna designs for your enclosure.

3. The development kit includes 6 months of free cellular data service. How much data can I use per month?
6 months of free cellular service will be limited to 5MB/month and recommended to use 100 SMS per month or less. The kit is for testing purposes only, not for production.

4. How much current does Digi XBee Cellular use in Deep Sleep mode?
Digi XBee Cellular only uses 10uA of current in Deep Sleep mode making it ideal for battery and solar powered applications.

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3 Reasons Wireless is a Great Solution for Demanding Conditions

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The following is an excerpt from our recent brief, Purpose-Built for Industrial Applications. Industrial ecosystems can be unpredictable and are often built in challenging locations. Digi’s wireless solutions help keep industrial applications connected and communicating in the most demanding conditions.

Creating a connected industrial ecosystem requires the installation of a communication infrastructure to accommodate the delivery of data to and from all your facilities and remote assets. Digi communication solutions help you expand remote monitoring into areas that are difficult to access, where power is not available, and even to locations that are outside of your normal network range.

 

 

1. Safe and steady wireless communication
Wireless connectivity and cloud-based data storage solutions are making industrial process control systems more productive, more responsive and safer. And it all depends on communication: machines talking to each other—and to users—through wireless communication networks. Digi International provides industrial-grade routers and gateways for secure and reliable network communications. Connectivity is easy with boxed solutions from Digi that are ready-made for diverse environments, from automation and low power to no power, and with or without cellular coverage.

2. Rugged and safety-minded
Inside and out, Digi products are made to withstand the harsh realities of process industries, including temperature extremes, wet/damp conditions and exposure to caustic chemicals and off-gassing. Features like ruggedized enclosures and DIN rail mounting mean you can install our devices anywhere in minutes, and then trust they will provide years of dependable data communication. Bottom line: your employees will spend less time installing, maintaining and reading devices in dangerous or remote areas.

3. Fortified against security threats
Digi LTE routers support advanced VPN, firewall, encryption and authentication tools to ensure the highest cyber security protection standards. In addition to individual software elements, Digi Remote Manager ® provides a centralized, scalable tool for ensuring security across the entire network of remote devices. It is hosted in SSAE-16 certified facilities and is ISO 27001 certified. In many products, Digi TrustFence™ provides built-in security, giving you immediate access to critical features including secure connections, authenticated boot, encrypted data storage, access-controlled ports, secure software updates, and seamless integration of the dedicated on-module Secure Element (SE). Device Security: Where it matters the most, Digi products include physical security features that help deter hands-on tampering and can alert your team to security breaches. Security features may include SIM covers, specialized screws and lockable enclosures.

TO LEARN MORE, READ THE FULL BRIEF HERE >>

 

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3 Reasons to Attend the Digi Europe 2017 IoT Conference

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This Year’s Focus: The Rising Tide of Security Threats. Learn the Risks and How to Stay Ahead of the Threat


From medical devices, fitness trackers and smart thermostats to tank sensors, intelligent streetlights and water monitors, the Internet of Things is in more places than ever before. And by relying on wireless networks, hundreds of millions of IoT devices present an even greater “attack surface,” making them frontline targets for competitors, hackers, disgruntled employees and other bad actors. Digi understands that security is one of the most critical concerns for engineers designing networks to support the growing number of connected IoT devices.

Digi knows security. In fact, we have securely connected millions of devices over the past decade. That’s why this year’s Connect with Confidence Conference takes a special look at security to help answer your questions about the kinds of threats that can disrupt your devices. We will give you the tools and knowledge to navigate security considerations before they become threats, so you can design the best-in-class IoT products and applications your organization deserves.

Still need a reason to head to Munich this March? We’ll give you three:

1. Meet Product and Technical Experts
Meet engineers and Digi product leaders and get answers to the most-asked technical questions about embedded, RF, network and cellular technologies. Learn all about the latest Digi products, and discuss your specific technical requirements in detail.

2. Hear from Real Digi Customers
Why do customers choose Digi for the M2M applications that matter most to them? Learn how several industry-leading customers are using Digi products to solve real IoT business challenges in the Industrial arena.

3. Schedule 1:1 Meetings with Digi Leaders
Take advantage of this exclusive, invitation-only opportunity for you and your team to meet the Digi executive team, including our President and CEO, Chief Technical Officer and Chief Operating Officer. Engineers and product leaders from each business unit are also standing by to review the latest Digi offerings and evaluate where you’d like to take your next IoT project.

Bonus
Register now as a Preferred Digi Customer, and we’ll waive the registration fee! Your admission and hospitality are all provided at no charge (travel and incidental costs not included) – courtesy Digi, your partner for the Internet of Getting Things Done.

Details

What: Digi Europe 2017 | IoT Conference

When: March 1-2, 2017

Where: Munich Airport Marriott Hotel

How: Register here

 

 

 

 

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5 Lessons Learned from the Mirai DDoS Attack

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Security is always top of mind when it comes to IoT devices and applications. The recent Mirai DDoS attack in October 2016 is an important reminder that IoT device manufacturers—and consumers—need to be vigilant with security, both out of the box and at home.

Recently, Andrew Lund, Digi’s Product Marketing Manager for Wireless M2M and IoT, shared his thoughts with IoT Evolution on the Mirai attack and what lessons could be learned to help improve security for IoT devices and applications. Below is an excerpt of five of Andrew’s best practices from IoT Evolution’s piece, which you can read in full here.

  1. Change default passwords:
    Given the attack vector that Mirai used, it’s clear that one area Device OEMs can make design decisions to increase security is with respect to passwords. The days of leaving the default password unchanged are over, so manufacturers must either force users to change passwords or create a “default” passwords that are unique to each individual IoT device.
  2. Don’t allow insecure ingress protocols:
    Mirai malware contains “killer” scripts that remove other worms and Trojans, allowing Mirai to maximize its use of the infected host device. But Mirai also goes one step further and closes processes that are used for remote ingress attempts, like Telnet, SSH, and HTTP.
  3. Secure remote management tools:
    Efficient, cost-effective method of remotely monitoring, updating and managing connected devices. Users can set performance parameters for healthy devices and create reports and alarms for suspicious activity. Using a remote manager that incorporates PCI-DSS and other relevant security certifications in the cloud such as HIPAA and NIST allow users to define a device profile, assign the profile to all devices in a group, and monitor and auto-remediate any variances. The best remote management tools can also restrict incoming traffic to only allow SSL connections, eliminating unencrypted TCP connections.
  4. Firmware updates:
    Firmware updates must be completed securely (authentication) and automatically, or at a minimum, users must be notified/prompted when a new firmware update is available.
  5. Packet encryption:
    This consists of basic encryption, such as FIPS-197/AES, to protect messages from unauthorized viewing or malicious changes. This method is easy to implement and use, especially in conjunction with private keys.

TO LEARN MORE, READ THE FULL POST HERE >>

Big Data and IoT Team Up for the Gaming and Lottery Industries

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Online gaming and virtual gambling have risen significantly due to increased mobile accessibility, social media, technology advancements and expanded internet connectivity. Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT) are proving to be even more of a game changer for these industries by collecting large amounts of data, from a variety of gameplay data sources, while rapidly connecting and communicating to thousands of sites.

You may experience this IoT evolution when you are playing Words With Friends® on your smartphone with college classmates across the country, or when you play poker on your computer with complete strangers across the globe. Regardless of your gaming or gambling experience, we all know how critical real-time connection is when we are trying to win. Now translate those wins into $6 billion of revenue, and the stakes of rapid connectivity are significantly heightened like for the world’s largest slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT) . With more than 400,000 point-of-sale devices in 100 countries, watch the video below to learn why IGT turned to Digi TransPort® LTE wireless routers to keep those bets and wagers flowing:

3 Reasons You Should Consider Embedded Cellular Connectivity

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The following is an excerpt from our recent brief, 5 Reasons You Should Consider Embedded Cellular Technology. If you’ve
ever 
considered embedded cellular technology in the past, this brief will quickly highlight some of the key benefits and how the Digi XBee Cellular family can help reduce the cost and complexity of your embedded cellular technology deployment.

Makers of remotely deployed sensors and devices have settled for the compromises, expense, and provisioning/maintenance complexity of traditional RF connectivity for years. Cellular connectivity addresses many of these drawbacks – but still hasn’t been cost-feasible for smaller deployments of ten or fewer devices. Today, that’s changing—here’s how:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: You may have considered embedded cellular in the past, but rejected it because of high-cost data plans from carriers. Today, however, with the emergence of LTE Cat 1 (and, soon, Cat M1 and NB1), the economics are becoming far more favorable – sometimes in the range of just US$2/month (1 MB data plan). For deployments up to ten per location – such as low-power wide-area (LPWA) applications – it can be cheaper to embed cellular connectivity in each device instead of aggregating through a single gateway.
  2. Greater Coverage: As carriers continue to build out their networks to the furthest and remotest areas, there are fewer dead zones to limit your deployments.
  3. Verizon Pre-Certification Digi XBee Cellular is FCC-certified and Verizon end-device-certified, so your device gets to market faster. Digi eliminates the traditional delays, thousands of dollars in costs, and headaches. Coming soon, Digi XBee units will be pre-provisioned as well for even faster deployment.

Digi XBee Cellular enables OEMs to quickly integrate cutting edge 4G cellular technology into their devices without dealing with the painful, time-consuming, and expensive FCC and carrier end-device certifications.

To Learn More, Read the Full Brief Here >>

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The 10 Security Factors Every Device Designer Should Consider

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The following is an excerpt from our recent whitepaper, IoT Device Security, Built-in, Not Bolt-on: The 10 Security Factors Every Device Designer Should Consider. This guide was written to help you navigate security consideration before they become threats, so you can get back to designing the best IoT product or application possible.

The Rising Tide of Security Threats

Limited only by designers’ imaginations, the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing how people live. From medical devices and fitness trackers to tank sensors, smart thermostats, intelligent streetlights, water monitors, and more, the IoT is in more places than ever.

However, by relying on wireless networks, those hundreds of millions of IoT devices present a greater “attack surface,” making them tempting frontline targets for competitors, hackers, disgruntled employees, and other bad actors. Unfortunately, the tools and techniques we’ve applied to PC/smartphone platforms often don’t work well in the IoT, for several reasons:

  • Resource Limitations – Small-footprint IoT devices typically have far less battery power, processing speed and memory. They lack the power and sophistication required to support traditional security measures.
  • Data Complacency – Many companies view the data in their IoT networks as mundane and having little intrinsic value outside the organization. But many breaches are motivated by other factors, such as competitive advantage, social status, or revenge. The data isn’t the goal – the hack is.
  • Availability of Tools– The tools and expertise to analyze and modify embedded/IoT devices are widely available – even to hobbyists.
  • No Physical Access Required– One of the advantages of the IoT is that devices can be remotely configured/upgraded without the need for dispatching a truck. However, thanks to wireless connections, hackers don’t need physical access to devices such as USB or other I/O ports.
  • Interface Differences– Embedded devices have no GUIs, and error messages can be as basic as a coded series of beeps or flashing lights. This is particularly true for security status and control functions allowing for security alarms to be overlooked.
  • Hardwired Ports– These provide unfortunate opportunities for compromise. IoT solutions can’t simply implement a strong password over a TLS connection – the most common approach for PC/Internet applications.

IoT solutions need a different approach and the effort required to identify and mitigate unique security risks in embedded systems is often underestimated, if not overlooked entirely.

>> To learn more, read the full whitepaper here.

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