Monitor. Detect. Analyze. Repeat.

Burgeoning and Evolving Wireless Spectrum Needs Evolving Protection

The rise of wireless and mobile technologies has transformed the way we communicate and work. Within the next 3 years experts predict there will be over 29 billion connected devices. Much of this is enabled by the wireless spectrum and the technologies that exploit this spectrum.

Billions of new wireless devices with new capabilities are shipped across the globe every year. Whether cellular, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, LoRa, Bluetooth or anything in between, all wireless communications are underpinned by radio transmissions (RF signals). Even when not in active use, a good portion of wireless devices ‘leak’ radio signals that can be detected, processed and possibly matched to a specific device – the digital fingerprint or wireless footprint of the device owner.

In a positive example, rescue teams take advantage of this fact and use real-time spectrum analyzers to detect these leaking signals, allocate resources more effectively, narrow down the location of individual victims and dramatically improve the chance of a successful rescue.

As technologies evolve, however, criminals are also exploiting these leaks for nefarious activities, such as covert listening, breaching and stealing data, and more. To this point:

  • Cyber incidents overall are increasing at a rate of 38% per year, and it is safe to assume malicious RF activities are increasing at least as fast.
  • One study showed that for every 10x increase in wireless access points (devices), there is a corresponding 10x increase in interference events per month.
  • The global cost of cybercrime (including RF attacks) has reached $2.0 Trillion annually, and this number is predicted to triple by 2021.

As threats proliferate, the need for advanced monitoring of the RF spectrum increases as well. One of our portfolio companies, ThinkRF, is the leader in software-defined spectrum analysis platforms that monitor, detect and analyze – in real-time – complex waveforms in today’s rapidly evolving wireless landscape. Applications include regulatory and intelligence monitoring, telecom deployment optimization and RF application development. And the applications for this technology are about to increase even more. The next generation of wireless networks is on the horizon, as many of us know. 5G as it is called is expected to transform everything from cellular communications to IoT interactivity to autonomous vehicle transportation to other robotics applications and more. These new applications will place new pressure on spectrum resources. They will demand higher frequencies and wider bandwidths than what were possible with 4G/LTE. They will require telecom companies to rethink how they deploy network infrastructure across different environments. And critically, they will require constant security against malicious activity.

For more insight into how ThinkRF products will play a key roll in this next evolution, visit thinkrf.com.