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So That Happened: Nuclear Fusion Enthusiasm, More Uber Hacking, 3D Printing on the Moon

Dec. 14, 2022
IndustryWeek editors look at those issues and growing diversity in corporate America.

Editor’s note: Welcome to So That Happened, our editors’ takes on things going on in the manufacturing world that deserve some extra attention. This will appear regularly in the Member’s Only section of the site.

Hackers Share Even More Uber Data

On Sept. 16, we reported on an Uber hack that blew the company’s internal IT network wide open. Ironically, the hacker used a known vulnerability that Uber paid someone to detect for them. It did not apparently pay someone else to fix it shortly following.

The new hack as reported by Bleeping Computer was revealed on Saturday, Dec. 10 when email addresses, corporate reports and IT asset information were published on a hacking forum.

Uber says the data was stolen from Teqtivity, a company that provides asset management and tracking services for Uber. The hacker(s) broke into an Amazon Web Services (AWS) backup server and stole data related not just to Uber but also other companies that make use of Teqtivity’s services.

“The rideshare industry collects a veritable treasure trove of data that can be exploited by potential cyberattackers, including personally identifiable information (PII), credit card data, employee records and users’ behavioral patterns like ride history. So, frankly, I am surprised to see that Uber hasn’t prioritized its own cybersecurity—and analyzed the cybersecurity processes of its third-party vendors—more effectively,” Neil Jones, director of cybersecurity evangelism at Egnyte, tells IndustryWeek.

“I am especially concerned that the new attack may involve source code data associated with its mobile device management (MDM) platforms and Microsoft Windows login information, which are extremely valuable for future attacks,” Jones adds.

Luckily for Uber and Uber Eats users, the stolen information is only related to internal Uber corporate data and nothing to do with customers, so there’s that.

Hackers did make away with a bunch of information that can fuel new social engineering attacks on Uber employees, however, which means a slew of new, potential attack vectors for hackers that may want to target the ride-hailing company again.

Dennis Scimeca

When It Comes to Diversity ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’

While I personally dislike viewing companies in terms of leaders or laggards, I think we can admit that manufacturing companies aren’t always the first to jump onto trends. But in the case of diversity, I do think manufacturing companies have done a great job of increasing representation of talent.

On that topic, Gartner has some interesting research out this week predicting that half of sales leadership roles will be filled by “historically underrepresented groups” within five years.

Of course, the law of supply and demand is the basis of this given that currently there are only three available candidates per open B2B sales job. One reason for this dearth of applicants is that companies tend to look for candidates in all of the same places.

 “CSOs are facing a talent crisis, yet are leaving crucial talent out of its pipeline,” said Christopher Gamble, senior director analyst in the Gartner Sales Leaders practice, in a statement. “Historically, the sales function has neglected to attract high-potential candidates from underrepresented groups, but the pressures from operating shorthanded require a renewed focus on improving and diversifying the talent pipeline. DEI efforts — targeting the talent pipeline, current sellers and sales leadership — are an imperative step in addressing current and future talent needs.”

The advisory group suggest that in order to open up recruitment to a wider pool of candidates and attract diverse talent, companies should refocus candidate profiles on skills and behaviors, rather than experience. And they suggest improving job posting wording to “avoid skewed recruiting toward the same talent pool and demographics.” They also note there are tools that can bias-check postings.

“To retain the best sellers in the future, sales leaders must quell any negative perceptions of their sales culture by establishing an employee value proposition (EVP) that not only signals a commitment to DEI but also delivers on that promise by valuing and supporting sellers equitably,” said Gamble.

—Adrienne Selko

Meet You at the Corner of 5th and Mons Huygens?

When you’re the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and your remit includes literal moonshots, you have to think pretty far into the future as to what your organization will need to be effective. Still, the agency’s recent awarding of a $57 million contract—relative peanuts compared to much of its other work—caught our eye for its decidedly terranean topic.

NASA officials have given Austin-based ICON six years to work with the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville on ICON’s Olympus construction system. The goal of that fledgling project: Use lunar and Martian resources as building materials to 3D-print “landing pads, habitats and roads on the lunar surface” and thus give missions a firmer foothold as NASA eyes travel to Mars.

ICON is no stranger to the NASA sphere: In collaboration with the Colorado School of Mines, the five-year-old company—which primarily markets 3D-printed homes—won a prize in 2019 for printing material that withstood harsh tests, including extreme temperatures. It also has printed a simulated Martian habitat that will be used during testing and preparation for possible future missions.

“In order to explore other worlds, we need innovative new technologies adapted to those environments and our exploration needs,” said Niki Werkheiser, director of technology maturation at NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. “Pushing this development forward with our commercial partners will create the capabilities we need for future missions.”

We’ll be on the lookout for contract awards exploring a network of lunar traffic cameras and a congestion management system.

Geert De Lombaerde

Fission? Fusion? We Need it All

“Nuclear energy is making a comeback,” proclaimed Stephen Gold, president and CEO of Manufacturers Alliance, in November.  With more than 50 nuclear reactors under construction around the world, Gold sees the energy source as key to global emissions reduction, catalyzed by Russia’s wartime strategy of cutting off gas supply to Europe.

His argument got an atomic-sized boost on Dec. 13 with the big announcement that scientists at Livermore National Laboratory produced a nuclear fusion reaction with a net energy gain.

Gold was eager to weigh in on the breakthrough, calling nuclear fusion “the holy grail of clean energy sourcing. The ability in the not-so-distant future to employ nuclear fusion for our global energy needs would be one of the greatest technological breakthroughs in history,” he enthused. “It would mean a vast abundance of clean energy with no carbon emissions and no waste – with the potential not just to impact climate change but to help raise living standards for billions of people in developing and emerging markets.”

It would also one-up current technology in a big way: No pesky nuclear waste to be disposed of.

Laura Putre

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