Twenty-five years ago, almost to the day, engineers from a small Silicon Valley start-up filed their first patent application. Patent No. 5,088,032, entitled “Method and apparatus for routing communications among computer networks,” was ultimately issued in 1992, and provided foundational capability for the interior gateway routing that enables the Internet as we know it. The company was Cisco, which this month becomes one of only a handful of American companies to be awarded its 10,000th U.S. patent.
It was forty years ago when the first mobile wireless call was made. Marty Cooper took to the sidewalk in New York. He held to his head what looked like a 10-inch brick, a clunky device that weighed over two pounds. He spoke, the call went through, and he made history.
Four decades hence, look what that one call wrought. We are now a nation with more mobile phones than people. Half of those phones are smartphones. Add to this the tablets that one in three adults in the U.S. now owns—a number that is growing especially fast.
The White House recently announced a $100 million initiative on spectrum sharing and a “Spectrum Technology Day” to promote innovations in wireless communications, one of the few successful sectors in a sluggish economy.
This proposal could maintain momentum generated earlier this month, when the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing to assess the state of the wireless industry—a hearing which revealed a potentially stalled wireless market if spectrum hits capacity.
The recent theft of approximately $45 million from ATMs across the globe made for a series of splashy, cringe-inducing headlines. The thought that a network of criminals could maneuver their way through sophisticated security programs to quickly syphon tens of millions of dollars out of bank accounts has prompted more than a few people to sneak a look at their checking account to make sure it is all there.
Fortunately, committing a crime that requires you to go to dozens of ATMs in a short time span is going to give law enforcement officials a pretty good idea of who you are. On top of that, the decision of those same criminals to spend their newfound fortune wildly – not to mention document it on social media - means that they (a) were not exactly criminal masterminds and (b) never watched “Goodfellas”, where similar behavior of those involved the large robberies earned them a one-way trip into a freezer truck.
The high-profile nature of this attack, however, is an excellent illustration of how much damage a determined cyber attacker can do with a little knowledge. The $45 million ATM hack was not the first big cyber attack, and it surely will not be the last.