Wireless security, partnerships, and DACs

The Chicago Tribune recently reported about a team of computer security consultants that investigated wireless network security. They spent several hours in the Chicago area with two laptops and inexpensive wireless hardware looking for points where radio signals would permit access to computer networks.


The Chicago Tribune recently reported about a team of computer security consultants that investigated wireless network security. They spent several hours in the Chicago area with two laptops and inexpensive wireless hardware looking for points where radio signals would permit access to computer networks.


The team discovered 575 separate wireless computer networks that could be accessed from the street, according to the Chicago Tribune report. Nearly 1/3 of the 575 networks used security measures. The remaining 2/3 did not use even the most basic forms of encryption. Further, according to the report, 1/3 of the detected systems retained the basic default settings on their equipment, making it easy for a hacker to access them.


Hackers could gain access to sensitive engineering, manufacturing, or financial data. Industrial spies could learn about the engineering and marketing plans of their competitors. Information could be lifted from corporate databases without anyone knowing.


The consultants used two off-the-shelf laptop computers in their investigation, along with wireless cards and antennas built by Lucent Technologies that are available for a few hundred dollars. According to the report, they used software, called Net Stumbler, that can be downloaded for free from the internet.


According to the report, a company can acquire a fair amount of network protection by using an encryption scheme known as wired equivalent privacy (WEP). Customizing the system's name and settings will further improve security. Virtually all wireless network systems are WEP-enabled, according to the consultants quoted in the article. Users should activate the built-in security to significantly reduce their vulnerability. Small investments of time and money can activate wireless network protections that would be comparable to installing a burglar system in your home.


The Chicago Tribune also cites a recent joint FBI/Computer Security Institute survey, which indicates that computer security breaches are still too common and that many companies remain unprepared to deal with them. Of the 503 respondents to this survey, 40% reported an outside hacker gaining access to internal systems. Also, 21% of these respondents could not even say if their web sites were ever compromised.


Bipolar DAC with serial interface introduced

Analog Devices has introduced the industry's first 14-bit,interface compatible with the SPI, QSPI, Microwire, and DSP interface standards. Applications are suited for digital gain and offset control, process control, automatic test equipment, and general-purpose data acquisition and instrumentation.


Other features include power down, data read back, and daisy chaining of parts over a single interface. Operating current is less than 2 mA and less than 50


Free maintenance and reliability training courses offered online

E-ConferenceZone.com has announced R/CM Online Reliability & Condition Monitoring Training. The training conference is free for attendees and may be accessed with any current web browser.


Current presentations include topics such as asset maintenance strategies, PM optimization, introduction to total productive maintenance (TPM), introduction to vibration analysis, introduction to ultrasonic detection, power quality, motor system management, electrical reliability, effective CMMS, world-class compressed air, steam system basics, root-cause analysis, and precision alignment.


Online training sessions require a Windows or Real Media player to hear narration. They are available on the internet 24 hr per day and can be accessed by anyone. A quick registration process is required. To access, go to rcm-1.com .


Device monitoring and control solution partnership formed

Entivity, Inc. and Comtrol Corp. recently announced a strategic partnership that integrates Comtrol's Ethernet-connected device servers and multiport controllers as the preferred connectivity hardware for all Entivity's control software. The alliance enables users to replace PLC-based systems with PC-based control and monitoring capabilities. The combined solution promises reduced downtime, increased visibility of plant floor devices, and reduced support and maintenance costs associated with proprietary control systems.


The cost of maintenance, cabling, and the actual hardware is lower than PLC architecture, according to Comtrol. The company sees the marketplace moving away from proprietary PLC-based controls. It says that users want to take advantage of "the stability and economies of scale that Ethernet and solid-state embedded servers can provide."


Minneapolis-based Comtrol Corp. is a provider of device connectivity, data communications, and enterprises device/system integration software technologies. Entivity, Inc., based in Ann Arbor, MI, was formed in 2001 as a result of the merger of two automation companies — Think & Do and Steepleshase.


Firms join to develop OPC products

Digi International and Kepware Technologies recently announced a partnership to develop an embedded OPC (OLE for process control) server and an embedded OPC data exchange (DX) device.


The companies will collaborate to create the OPC products, which will offer an extension of the use of PCs and the Windows NT platform by embedding an OPC server in an industrial grade device server box.


The DX server is said to provide interoperable data exchange and server-to-server communications across Ethernet networks.


Digi International is based in Minneapolis and is a provider of wired and wireless hardware and software connectivity solutions. Kepware is based in Yarmouth, ME and is a provider of OPC software and industrial communication products.

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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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