Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Smart home thermostats. Smart home security cameras. Smart refrigerators. Smart TVs. Smart pet feeders. Smart breast pumps.
From rooftop to basement and the bedrooms in between, much of the technology making consumer products smart comes from a little-known Chinese firm, Tuya Inc. of Hangzhou.
Tuya says as of 2020, its services cover more than 1,100 categories, such as healthcare, agriculture and apartment management, and are sold in more than 220 countries and regions globally in over 116.5 million smart devices.
More than 5,000 brands have incorporated Tuya's technology in their products, including Dutch multinational Philips, and TCL, the Chinese electronics company that makes Roku TV, according to the company. Global retailers Amazon, Target and Walmart sell consumer products that use Tuya's technology.
Some cybersecurity experts worry about the lack of protection for the consumer data collected by Tuya tech in household items and in products used in health care and hospitality.
The experts are urging Washington to limit or ban Tuya from doing business in the United States, in part because a broad new Chinese law requires companies to turn over any and all collected data when the government requests it.
"If you think about this as a safety issue, you can't buy a toy with broken glass in it. You can't buy expired medicines," said Vince Crisler, CEO of Dark Cubed, a cybersecurity firm in Arlington, Virginia. "Could these devices be considered a safety issue and therefore there is a certain level of standards? I think that's absolutely a starting point where Congress could legislate."
In October 2020, Republican Senator Marco Rubio introduced the Adversarial Platform Prevention (APP) Act "which would establish a set of data protection and censorship related standards and restrictions that must be met before high-risk foreign software … is permitted to legally operate in the United States."
VOA Mandarin contacted Rubio's office for comment on Tuya but received no response.
Tuya technology provides the function known as "platform as a service" (PaaS), which enables things to be "smart" by providing them with an internet connection. The smart devices then create a large, inter-connected network.
This interlocking chain is the so-called internet of things (IoT). While this allows devices to work with little human intervention and makes life easier, the connected devices generate "loads of data that can be used to make the devices useful but can also be mined for other purposes. All this new data, and the Internet-accessible nature of the devices, raises both privacy and security concerns," according to the website HowStuffWorks.
Backed by Tencent, the Chinese tech conglomerate with close ties to Beijing, Tuya is one of the leading enterprises in the sector less than a decade after its founding in 2014. It raised
$915 million when it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in March.
Cybersecurity experts see Tuya's data collection as similar to that of Chinese telecom giant Huawei and its 5G-related products because Tuya could "siphon the masses of data – including classified government data – created and shared on its networks, and make it available to the Chinese government," said an analysis published on the political website, The Hill. "Tuya may well be funneling the information picked up on home security cameras and connected health devices – just to name two examples – back to Beijing."
The article, by two senior researchers from the Washington think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI), suggests that the U.S. needs to limit Tuya's expansion in the American market.
Klon Kitchen, one of the authors and a cybersecurity expert, told VOA Mandarin via email that the central concern is that companies like Tuya must comply with China's new Data Security Law.
That law stipulates that Chinese enterprises and individuals must support, assist and cooperate with law enforcement on data concerning the national economy, national security and the public. The June 2021 law also forbids any company in China from providing any foreign law enforcement officials with data stored within China.
"This data might be collected, moved, and held in a 'secure' fashion … but it must still be given to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and therefore there is a persistent threat that must be addressed," Kitchen said. "Tuya doesn't have to be incompetent or malicious to be a threat, it only needs to be compliant with Chinese law."
Tuya has not responded to VOA Mandarin's request for comment. According to an editor's note that appears with The Hill analysis, "Regarding the potential for sharing data with the Beijing government, Tuya states that all user data on its platform is assigned to specific regional data centers, according to the users' locations, and that servers operate independently with no connection to China."
Scott Ford, CEO of the Kansas City-based tech start-up Pepper, told VOA Mandarin that the industry needs to regulate data flows.
"Let's say that a foreign platform has access to 10 million U.S. households or more; that's a growing risk here," he told VOA in an interview conducted via Zoom. "The ability to turn everybody's thermostat up at once and create a power grid issue, the ability to access video at any time ... and there's no regulatory environment, there's no protections for those types of things today."
Bob O'Donnell, president and chief analyst at the market research firm TECHnalysis Research of Foster City, California, told VOA Mandarin in an email that there should be concerns about Chinese companies with strong ties to the government.
"The truth is, the potential negative impact from a massive [Internet of Things]-related attack could be much worse than any 5G-related concerns," he said. "There are hundreds of millions of connected IoT devices in use today, some of which have personal information such as live video feeds or other data, that could be used for nefarious purposes."
In March, Dark Cubed studied 10 home smart devices sold in the U.S. market. Priced from $20 to $100, Chinese smart technologies were embedded in most of the items.
"Every IoT device we reviewed had a business connection to China and every product was observed communicating with infrastructure in China, without our permission," said the report.
Crisler of Dark Cubed told VOA Mandarin that the company found numerous security risks in smart-device apps developed by Tuya.
"There was a lot of potential for information leaks," Crisler said. "Tuya owns the entire chain ... and there's no insight into how they're using that data."
Last year, the U.S. passed the Cybersecurity Improvement Act, which covers cybersecurity for IoT devices owned or controlled by the federal government. And the Biden administration has continued an executive order signed by former President Donald Trump in 2019 to protect sensitive data from foreign adversaries.
"The United States must act to protect against the risks associated with connected software applications that are designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned or controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of, a foreign adversary," said EO 13873.
Kitchen said this is a start.
"Tuya is the overwhelming market leader and is quickly gaining a foothold in the U.S.," he said. "We must address the larger issues beyond Tuya, but we cannot wait for the perfect solution while allowing the CCP to dig deeper and deeper into American IoT infrastructure." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: China, Cybersecurity, Smart devices, Science and Technology
By- Sunidhi Beeliya
Internshala Trainings, the e-learning arm of Internshala, recently brought out a report highlighting the inclination of young graduates towards learning professional communication skills. The platform has registered a massive increase of 90% in the number of enrollments, in communication skills training, within the past 1 year.
Interestingly, 63% of the overall registrations in the training were made by women learners from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, and Hyderabad. This is a strong indicator of how women are constantly striving to learn effective communication techniques, focussing on fluency and pronunciation, avoiding communication roadblocks, and mastering their speaking, writing, presentation, English communication, and interpersonal skills for the workplace.
Follow NewsGram on Facebook to stay updated.
The report also suggests that 49% of all the enrollments were made by the learners to gain a new skill. This could be anything from understanding the importance of body language and mastering active listening skills, to learning resume writing, cover letter writing, drafting emails, or essential interview skills. 30% of the learners' objective was to get an internship or job in future after polishing their workplace communication skills.
The demand for corporate communication skills also grew exceptionally among employers hiring for various in-office or work-from-home internships in 2020-21. More than 62,000 internship opportunities, posted for popular profiles including content writing, business development (sales), marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing, demanded English proficiency (spoken and written) as a major skill. This was 41% more than what employers used to look for in 2017-18.
The demand for corporate communication skills also grew exceptionally among employers hiring for various in-office or work-from-home internships in 2020-21Unsplash
As per the report, while applying for internships in popular profiles, during 2020-21, more than 6.46 lac students mentioned knowledge of English (spoken and written) as a major skill in their resume.
ALSO READ: Social Media Advantages in Career
Academic counselling institutions, ed-tech platforms, service providers to startups, marketing and advertising companies, and online media organisations, were the top recruiters who were looking for English proficiency in candidates for most of their intern requirements.
Emphasising on the importance of corporate communication skills for new-age learners, Sarvesh Agrawal, the founder and CEO of Internshala Trainings said, "The ability to express and document ideas, give and seek constructive feedback, work collaboratively, effectively listen, and show empathy, is essential for getting employed and career development. Young graduates, seeking new career avenues, must know how to communicate professionally to adapt to different organisational cultures and work environments."
"Our short-termed and self-paced trainings are designed to empower the learners to enhance their interpersonal and written communication skills essential for the workplace. The guidance of leading industry experts and practical exposure through assignments and real-world projects helps learners attain their career goals." He added.
Maharashtra produces the most exquisite hand weave in the country. These sarees are considered the most treasured fabrics among all others, and to own one is a luxury. It was mainly propagated during the time of the Mughals and is something that still lives on.
The Paithani weave is known for its tight weave. Each saree uses nearly 500 grams of pure silk and 250 grams of silver thread. These two threads are woven together in such a way that the fabric has a lustre from the silver threads. It is usually decorated with peacocks, lotus, or vine motifs.
Aurangzeb, the last Mughal ruler of India, patronized the Paithani saree to the extent that he cut off the hands of the Jamdani weavers so that more people focused on weaving the Paithani saree. The name of the saree comes from the town of Paithan in Aurangabad.
An exhibition being held at Aurangabad, 2006, attended by eminent personalities, featured paithani sarees Image source: wikimedia commons
When the Industrial Revolution set in, the weavers were put out of business. The Peshwas took it upon themselves to carry on the art and settled in a town called Yeola, which is the centre of Paithani sarees today.
The traditional Maharashtrian bride always opts for a Paithani saree because of its richness and beauty. Paithani sarees are the only ones that are exactly identical on both sides. They do not lose their lustre at any time. Even the pallu of the saree is identical on both sides. Traditional sarees are available in basic colours obtained from vegetable dyes. These days, however, with the coming of the power loom, these sarees are not so much a work of art as they used to be. But those who can afford one, still invest in the hand-woven saree which is worn on festive occasions.
Keywords: Sarees, Paithani, Mughal, Weave, Handloom, Maharashtra
By Monika Manchanda
Eating fruits is one of the most satisfying ways to tackle sweet-tooth cravings while meeting your nutritional needs. Despite many studies and research on fruit consumption in diabetes, there are a lot of speculations on the right kind of fruit consumption and its relation to blood sugar levels.
Eating seasonal and locally available fruit has many health benefits ranging from reducing sugar and inflammation levels to fighting high blood pressure -- thanks to their abundant vitamins and mineral presence! They are a powerhouse of antioxidants like vitamins A, B, C, E, and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and fiber.
The fruits listed below are not just diabetic-friendly but are loaded with fiber and water content which can slow down the sugar spikes and sugar absorption rate. Apples are not just nutritious and filling; According to a study, they are significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes if consumed in moderation. Turns out there is a truth in the old saying, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", after all!
Apples are not just nutritious and filling; According to a study, they are significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes if consumed in moderation. | Photo by Pierpaolo Riondato on Unsplash
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and more than 20 vitamins and minerals. They are high in fibers as well, and have been linked with lowering the risk of diabetes. Berries: Adding berries is one of the best ways to add a variety to your diabetes-friendly diet. You can choose from blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries because all of them are power-packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and fibers. Papaya is rich in natural oxidants, which makes it a perfect pick for people with diabetes. It reduces the chances of future cell damage.
Star fruit: This sweet and sour fruit is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C. It also positively impacts anti-inflammatory processes and can help repair cell damage, and it has minimal fruit sugars as well. Kiwi fruit is an excellent source of Vitamin E, K, and potassium, and they are low in fruit sugars as well, which makes it a perfect diabetic-friendly fruit.
Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and more than 20 vitamins and minerals. | Photo by Kristine Wook on Unsplash
Melons (Musk melon and watermelon): Powerful hydrating fruits like cantaloupe and melons are recommended for people with diabetes, and people with the risk of developing diabetes. Eat-in moderation for multiple nutritional benefits like fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B, and C. Dragon fruit is full of dietary fibers, vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Pear are nutrient-rich, and they are known to fight inflammation and improve digestion.? Studies also suggest that consuming pears along with a healthy diet reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. Orange: This citrus fruit is full of fiber that helps slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream, and its vitamin C component helps improve immunity levels.
Add fruit to your salads to enjoy their goodness with a sprinkle of cinnamon, it tastes better and reduces sugar spikes . | Photo by Jo Sonn on Unsplash
Add fruit to your salads to enjoy their goodness with a sprinkle of cinnamon, it tastes better and reduces sugar spikes . Add nuts like walnuts and almonds to complement your fruit snack. you can also add flaxseeds to balance the glycemic load in the body. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Diabetics, Apples, Star fruit, Pear, Melons, Kiwi fruit