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VOLUME 49

   ISSUE 49

26 August 2015

Article of the Month  Around the World

Sri Lanka First Country to Deploy Balloon Based Internet, What Security Risks Does It Pose?

 

Project Loon


We think that most people are connected to the internet when in fact two-thirds of the population do not have access to the internet. Google started a project in 2013 called ‘Project Loon’ with an aim to make the whole world connected to the internet, concentrating on connecting people in rural and remote areas, to help fill coverage gaps and bring people back online after disasters using a network of balloons travelling on the edge of space. The exciting thing about this is that Sri Lanka will be the first country to deploy Googles balloon based internet, giving 100% of Sri Lankans resident’s access to the internet.


How it works


The balloons travel 20km above the earth’s surface in the stratosphere. The layers of winds in the stratosphere vary in speed and direction, so Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where the balloons need to go, and moves each into a layer of wind blowing in that direction. This can be arranged to form one giant communication network.


The inflated part of the balloon is called the balloon envelope and it is designed to last around 100 days in the stratosphere and is powered by solar panels and a small box hangs underneath the balloon envelope which contains the electronics.


Each balloon can provide connectivity to a ground area about 40km using wireless communications technology called LTE. Project Loon partners with telecommunications companies to share cellular spectrum so people will be able to access the Internet everywhere directly from their phones and other LTE-enabled devices.
 

 

What is LTE technology?


LTE is also known as 4G. The technology covers a wider range of frequencies and has the potential to be 100 times faster than 2G and 3G networks. 4G was designed specifically for sending and receiving data. The methods taken to achieve these speeds also make it more vulnerable. What the industry has done with 4G/LTE technology is taken a self-contained telephone network, secured primarily by virtue of being separate from the internet, and then giving it internet capabilities. 3G networks use a protocol called SS7 to send signals which is hard to penetrate. LTE on the other hand uses systems such as Diameter, an open protocol that sends signals based on IP addresses of networks which makes it faster and can handle more traffic than SS7.

Security Issues


Main problem with LTE/4G is that user information can become easily available to hackers via ‘man in the middle’ attacks. These new security risks are being exposed by the move to the IP-centric LTE architecture. The deployment of LTE is a primary driver behind the security risks as the LTE architecture is much flatter and more IP-centric than 3G, meaning there are fewer steps to access the core network.

What to think about


Project Loon should be prepared to meet every threat. They need to address security as a multi-level problem and ensure the highest levels of device security and educate users to protect themselves. Only then can they continue to build out their networks to reach more users while also protecting them.
 


- Menuka De Silva

Menuka is working as Intern - Information Security Engineer at Sri Lanka CERT|CC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.http://antivirus.about.com/od/securitytips/tp/
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Notice Board
  Training and Awareness Programmes - August 2015
  
DateEventVenue
- April04-06 Aug. 2015 Workshop on Database Design & Programming with my SQL NIE - Maharagama
 
07- Aug. 2015
 
Industry experts forum for Instructors of Zonal & Provincial ICT cenetrs. Water's Edge
 

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