The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

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It is soon going to be news when a day goes by without a report about some business unit of Sony being hacked.

Reports came out last night like this one at Reuters and this one at the Epoch Times that the hacking group LulzSec broke into Sony BMGthis time and publicly posted source code to the Sony Computer Entertainment Developer Network yesterday morning.

The story at Epoch Times states that access to the source code could allow hackers to find, exploit or more worrisome, create security holes in Sony IT systems.


There was also a story at Time's Techland website reporting  Mr. Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) as saying that Sony's Playstation Network activity is now at 90% of the level before the April hackfest and network outage. It will be interesting to see the level of activity once the freebies disappear.

There is also a story at Bloomberg News today that discusses the difficulty in trying to bring criminal hackers to justice, something that is conspicuously missing in the latest round of hacking attacks, except maybe in the Hyundai Capital case.

The story quotes Mr. Pablo A. Martinez, Deputy Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigative Division, U.S. Secret Service (see a bio here in PDF) as comparing the current state of the cyber security-related prosecutions to that of the prosecutions of drug cartels in the early 1980s. Mr. Martinez says that:

"What the Secret Service has to do is take the successful model that we introduced in South America to defeat some of that stuff and incorporate it in what we do in cyber."

A tactic used against drug cartels is cultivate informers. If you believe this story also published today in the London Guardian, the Secret Service and Federal Bureau of Investigation are hip-deep in hackers who are also informers.

The Guardian story claims that 1 in 4 hackers is an FBI informer.

If true, then why the shortage of arrests? Are the FBI informers really connected to criminal groups, or are they more the pranksters that this story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday highlighted? Or are the real culprits outside US jurisdiction, as is implied in the Bloomberg News story as the main reason for the lack of arrests?

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Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

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