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October 3, 2019 Jeremy Boren

UPS Drones, Westinghouse Rolls-Royce Deal, URGENT/11 Cyber Threat

UPS Wins First FAA Certification for Commercial Drone Use


A key FAA commercial drone certification clears UPS to begin conducting package deliveries at night, out of view of the drone operator and that weigh in excess of 55 pounds.

It’s a first in the early history of commercial drone aviation.

The Part 135 Standard Certification opens a huge opportunity for UPS subsidiary Flight Forward to expand its commercial drone delivery operations.

In a LinkedIn post, UPS Chairman and CEO David Abney predicted, “…drones will make it affordable to move goods directly, and in smaller lots. Spare parts, critical medicines or gifts for a loved one no longer will take days to arrive. In the future, they will arrive in hours or minutes by drone, hyperloop, your UPS driver, an autonomous vehicle with lockers — or more likely, some combination of the above.”

UPS plans to start using drones to deliver packages on hospital campuses, but it could soon expand to other campus-type settings, CNBC reports.

“When the regulations are complete we certainly believe there are residential opportunities… that will help supplement the incredible group of drivers we have all over the world,” Abney told CNBC.

Beyond the cool factor, it’s a great example of a company with a long legacy that’s pioneering something new and daring and clearly part of a culture that embraces digital transformation.

Westinghouse to Acquire Rolls-Royce Civil Nuclear Systems


Westinghouse announced late last week that it plans to purchase the nuclear systems unit of Rolls-Royce, a deal that it said will allow it to expand its “digital, engineering services, plant automation and monitoring systems, field services and manufacturing.”

“Creating customer value and supporting our customers’ operations is a key driver for Westinghouse. Acquiring Rolls-Royce will strengthen our ability to serve the nuclear operating fleet through an expanded presence in our core business while adding new digital offerings,” Patrick Fragman, Westinghouse president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

A very worthwhile analysis published in Power Magazine said, “The merger will conjoin two of the most traditionally significant nuclear businesses in the U.S. and the UK and give the two industry giants more clout in the global nuclear power operating plant services sector. It could also substantially boost growth for Westinghouse, which emerged from bankruptcy in August 2018 as a Brookfield company.”

Westinghouse listed the following motivations for the acquisition, which is subject to customary regulatory approvals:

  • Expand Westinghouse’s operating plant services capabilities
  • Enhance the company’s digital innovation efforts to optimize customer planning and maintenance, and provide engineering solutions to maximize cost effectiveness and obsolescence risk
  • Support both Westinghouse’s and Rolls-Royce’s global customer base through an expanded presence and synergies between both companies, enhancing customer offerings and experience in field services and plant automation
  • Further enable Westinghouse’s growth while supporting customers in the North American and European nuclear markets

Rolls-Royce has 11 sites in the United States, Canada, France and the UK.

Network Protocol Vulnerability from the 1990s Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon

Wired reports that network protocol vulnerabilities known collectively as URGENT/11 could provide hackers with a way to take control of or disable a wide array of industrial devices.

Worryingly, Wired’s story, and a YouTube video from enterprise security firm Armis, focuses on hospital equipment that could affected, along with perhaps thousands of other types of industrial devices.

The crux is this: “Today Armis, the Department of Homeland Security, the Food and Drug Administration, and a broad swath of so-called real-time operating system and device companies disclosed that Urgent/11, a suite of network protocol bugs, exist in far more platforms than originally believed.”

Here’s a detailed notice from Armis.

A key takeway from this story is that companies have found it difficult, if not impossible, to create a catch-all security patch for these types of security vulnerabilities.

Even more problematic: installing such a patch on so many different kinds of devices. That’s why it’s important to mitigate the risk of a vulnerability or a legacy system being exploited by implementing a robust firewall and micro-segmentation network strategy.

For an example of this from GrayMatter’s world, check out our work with Bell (formerly known as Bell Helicopter).

Bell operates extremely expensive, custom-built machines running on legacy systems that would be too costly or difficult to upgrade. That’s why the company opted for a micro-segmentation solution that protects its machines from malware that, as in the case of URGENT/11, has been around for years if not decades.

Webinar: Key Trends in Digital Manufacturing and Industry 4.0


GrayMatter’s Carson Drake and GE Digital’s Joe Gerstl are teaming up at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 with IndustryWeek to offer manufacturing companies a special, online discussion panel about Industry 4.0, digital transformation, predictive maintenance, digital twins and more.

Register today to join us, along with representatives from hundreds of manufacturers, for an in-depth presentation and Q&A session.

Jeremy Boren

Jeremy is GrayMatter's Brand Manager and the author of TechHub and the emPOWERUP Podcast. He writes about digital solutions, trends and culture in the world of operational technology. Jeremy's background is in daily journalism. He has a passion for storytelling and enjoys highlighting the technologies and professionals taking on complex challenges in manufacturing, energy, cybersecurity and infrastructure.