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Tuesday, June 4, 2019 @ 04:06 PM gHale

A Romanian national got just over 5 years in federal prison in connection with a multi-state ATM card skimming scheme.

Bogdan Viorel Rusu, 38, a Romanian national formerly living in Queens, New York, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni for the District of Massachusetts to 65 months in prison followed by 60 months of supervised release. Mastroianni also ordered Rusu to pay restitution of $440,130 and forfeit the same amount.

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In September 2018, Rusu pleaded guilty to an information that charged him with one count each of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Rusu was arrested on Nov. 14, 2016, and initially charged by complaint in the District of New Jersey and has been in custody since.

From Aug. 3, 2014, until his arrest on Nov. 14, 2016, Rusu engaged in a widespread bank fraud conspiracy that targeted various banks in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, according to Rusu’s plea agreement. Rusu and his co-conspirators captured payment card account information from customers as they accessed their accounts through ATMs and then used that information to steal money from the customers’ bank accounts.

To capture the account information, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed electronic devices like skimming machines, which surreptitiously recorded customers’ bank account information on the banks’ card-readers at the vestibule door, the ATM machine, or both.

In addition, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators installed other devices (generally either pinhole cameras or keypad overlays) in order to record the keystrokes of bank customers as they entered their personal identification numbers to access their bank accounts, officials said. After enough customers accessed the ATM machine, Rusu and/or his co-conspirators removed the skimming devices. They then transferred the illegally obtained information from the skimming devices and pinhole cameras to counterfeit payment cards. Finally, they visited other ATM machines with the counterfeit cards to obtain cash from the skimmed bank accounts before the bank or the customers became aware of their illicit conduct.

As a result of the scheme, $364,419 was lost in Massachusetts and $75,715 in New York (totaling $440,134 from 531 individual accounts), and another $428,581 was stolen in New Jersey.

Friday, May 17, 2019 @ 03:05 PM gHale

Employees at Somerville Fabricators show off their SHARP flag. From left to right, front row: Mike Waldron, Rodger Smith, Jason Drake. Second row: Peggy Somerville, Kyle Wood, Steve Somerville. Third Row: Nathan Somerville, Dan Bell, Mark Smith, Josh Byers, Jimmie Cremeans.

Somerville Fabricators, Inc. is a full-service fabricator of carbon and stainless structural steel that serves the Mid-West and Mid-Atlantic States, plus Canada.

Headquartered in Mineral Wells, West Virginia, this 51-year-old family-owned company prides itself in establishing and maintaining a personal relationship with customers and staff. “Somerville’s motto is ‘Where Quality is Our Character’ because the customers’ absolute satisfaction must always be our ultimate goal,” said Peggy Somerville, vice president at Somerville Fabricators.

In 2011, the company initiated a search to gain safety knowledge, better protect employees, and improve the company’s safety program.

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As a small business, finding resources that would address all of those needs proved difficult. As Somerville began her search for programs that could help the company, she came across the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), On-Site Consultation Program website.

OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies, such as the West Virginia Division of Labor, OSHA Consultation, or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

During the February 8, 2014, initial consultation visit and some follow-up visits, the West Virginia consultants identified the following hazards:
• A nameplate or marking for a powered industrial truck was not in place or legible
• A hand or power tool or equipment used by an employee was not maintained in a safe condition
• A synthetic web sling was not immediately removed from service when inspection found a snag, puncture, or tear

During the hazard correction process, Somerville Fabricators implemented several methods to increase safety.

These methods included work practice controls, such as establishing a mandatory regular training and inspection schedule and conducting daily, weekly, monthly, and annual inspections. In addition, the company created a safety team, composed of people from all levels of the organization, which regularly reports the findings of these inspections to management. Together, management and the safety team create a plan of action to make the necessary changes for compliance.

Safety Partnership
“Our safety program became a machine driven by employee participation,” Somerville said. “It went from management creating and dictating policies to a partnership complete with two-way communication between employees and management. Our employees truly embraced a culture of safety in the workplace and are always ready with suggestions and participation, not only on the safety committee, but also by sharing ad hoc observations and recommending improvements.”

She did find, though, change was not easy.

“Throughout the company, we faced many challenges at all levels,” Somerville said. “We identified a need for education, training, and accountability.” Management received additional training and education. Employee safety training needs (from new hires through seasoned professionals) were also addressed. Implementing increased accountability and involvement meant new responsibilities. The employees have embraced these changes in partnership with management, and continued to work toward the company’s safety goals.

With each challenge faced, Somerville was confident in the fact she would have accurate information in a timely manner to move forward with this important program. As a small business owner, having the resources from the West Virginia Division of Labor, OSHA Consultation, made all the difference in having a successful workplace safety and health program.

These efforts were rewarded when the company was initially accepted into the OSHA Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) on May 16, 2016, and the company’s SHARP participation was renewed on August 14, 2017. This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program services and operate an exemplary safety and health program. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles the company out among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.

To earn the OSHA SHARP designation, companies must have injury and illness rates below the national average. Improving adherence to OSHA safety standards and updating company safety policies and procedures positively affected Somerville Fabricators’ injury and illness rates. In 2013, the year before the first West Virginia DOL/OSHA consultation visit, Somerville Fabricators experienced one recordable injury and illness.

Safety Pays
After working with West Virginia DOL OSHA, there were zero recordable injuries from 2014 (the year of the first consultation visit) to 2017. For North American Industry Classification System code 331513, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national industry average Total Recordable Case Rate (TRC) was 8.1, and the national average Days Away from Work, Job Transfer and Restriction (DART) rate was 4.4 from 2014 through 2017.

Lowering these injury and illness rates helped to reduce the cost of Workers’ Compensation Claims from $1,000 in 2014 to $386 in 2017. Their workers’ compensation premium rates dropped from $30,000 in 2014 to $15,000 in 2017.

“Being a partner with the OSHA Consultation Program through the West Virginia Division of Labor, OSHA Consultation, has really helped to bring our employees closer together,” Somerville said. “Each employee recognizes the importance that we place on safety and truly wants to be a part of making that happen. In the process of making that happen, all of our employees have joined forces and become more of a team. In addition, we were able to obtain contracts from many new customers, in part due to our SHARP recognition.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 @ 04:03 PM gHale

When a patch comes out, if at all possible, they need to be applied. While easier said than done, it really comes into play as a 19-year-old code execution vulnerability in the popular WinRAR compression tool is suffering from attacks.

Rarlab reports there are over 500 million users of this program and a patched version, 5.70, released February 26, but attackers are releasing exploits in an effort to reach vulnerable systems before they end up patched, according to a report from McAfee.

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“One recent example of an attack piggybacks on a bootlegged copy of Ariana Grande’s hit album “Thank U, Next” with a file name of ‘Ariana_Grande-thank_u,_next(2019)_[320].rar,’” McAfee researchers Craig Schmugar and Mark Olea said in a post.

“When a vulnerable version of WinRAR is used to extract the contents of this archive, a malicious payload is created in the Startup folder behind the scenes. User Account Control (UAC) does not apply, so no alert is displayed to the user. The next time the system restarts, the malware is run,” the researchers said.

“In the first week since the vulnerability was disclosed, McAfee has identified over 100 unique exploits and counting, with most of the initial targets residing in the United States at the time of writing,” Schmugar and Olea said.

Monday, March 18, 2019 @ 08:03 PM gHale

PAS Global, LLC released PAS Cyber Integrity 6.3, which includes risk analytics that continuously measures and identifies cybersecurity risks to multi-vendor OT (Operational Technology) endpoints, as well as forensic analysis capabilities that provide deep insight into the impact and propagation of a cyber attack.

PAS Cyber Integrity helps industrial companies secure their most critical assets – the OT systems that enable safe and reliable production.

It enables companies to gather and maintain a complete, accurate inventory of OT cyber assets, capture configuration baselines, monitor for unauthorized configuration changes, automate a continuous vulnerability and patch management process across the enterprise, and implement a program for system backup and recovery.

PAS Cyber Integrity risk analytics enable industrial companies to:

Continuously measure industrial endpoint security posture and provide visibility into cybersecurity risks: Vulnerabilities, patch currency gaps, configuration baseline deviations, and unauthorized configuration changes down to the field instrument level.

Identify OT endpoint security degradation and risk propagation so OT security specialists, automation engineers, and risk/compliance managers can prioritize remediation and reduce industrial cybersecurity attack surfaces.

Enable forensic investigations via extensive multi-vendor configuration and referential insight to provide foundational ICS cybersecurity, enterprise scalability, performance, and platform independence.

“Our customers must continuously measure multi-vendor OT endpoint security posture and visualize risk propagation to ensure safe and reliable production,” said Mark Carrigan, chief operating officer at PAS Global, LLC. “Cyber Integrity enables OT cybersecurity professionals to discover cybersecurity risks, expedite remediation, and facilitate forensic analysis and response for OT devices down to level 0 – something that network-based monitoring solutions simply cannot do.”

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 @ 04:03 PM gHale

A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled legislation Monday that would create cybersecurity standards for Internet of Things (IoT)-connected devices.

The bill, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) and in the House by Reps. Will Hurd (R-TX) and Robin Kelly (D-IL), would require established standards for government use of the devices.

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IoT devices can open the door to potential security issues. Hackers who are able to access one device can sometimes find a way to manipulate other connected items. They can also infiltrate networks or systems linked to the devices.

There has been a rush to get IoT devices to market, but that comes with a drawback.

“IoT device manufacturers have typically deprioritized security in favor of faster time-to-market and lower costs,” said Phil Neray, vice president of Industrial Cybersecurity at CyberX, a Boston-based IIoT & ICS security firm. “As a result, many IoT devices have much weaker security than other devices upon which we depend such as laptops and cell phones, lacking even the most basic security features like simple patching and removal of hard-coded administrative passwords. As a result, IoT devices present a particularly soft target for adversaries, who use them as convenient entry-points to compromise our smart buildings, smart cities, and smart factories. This bipartisan bill is an important step toward steering IoT manufacturers in the direction of stronger security for all devices that fuel our hyper-connected world.”

Government officials, lawmakers and security researchers have pointed to the vulnerabilities created by the interconnected nature of the devices — which can include products from ranging from vehicles to home appliances like doorbells — as a major cybersecurity concern.

Gardner and Warner introduced a different version of the bill in the 115th Congress, but the measure did not advance.

Warner, who co-chairs the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus with Gardner and is vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a published report he’s concerned about IoT devices “being sold without appropriate safeguards and protections in place, with the device market prioritizing convenience and price over security.”

Gardner said as the devices “continue to transform our society and add countless new entry points into our networks, we need to make sure they are secure, particularly when they are integrated into the federal government’s networks.”

Under the bill, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) would create recommendations for the federal government’s use of IoT devices, including establishing minimum security requirements to address the products’ cyber vulnerabilities.

NIST would also be required to issue a report on the increasing use and overlap of IoT devices, including recommendations on how to address cybersecurity issues.

The legislation also would require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to create guidelines for the purchase and use of such devices. And the NIST and OMB would have to revisit the policies and recommendations every five years to ensure they are in line with best practices.

Monday, March 11, 2019 @ 05:03 PM gHale

Two demolition workers remain in intensive care in critical condition after a spill of a hazardous chemical at a former factory off Jefferson Road in Henrietta, NY.

Crews were called around 9:20 Monday morning to the Amesbury Truth building for a report of a chemical leak.

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Five people ended up exposed to a chemical known as methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), a chemical known to cause respiratory issues and can even be fatal. Three people were rushed to Strong Memorial Hospital, two of them in critical condition, while two others were treated at the scene. The condition of the third worker hospitalized is not known.

All employees ended up evacuated and about 50 responders were called to the scene, including the Monroe County Hazardous Materials unit who entered the building to determine the extent of the chemical leak.

The building used to be Amesbury Truth. Previous to that, it was the Schlegel Corporation. They moved out of state and crews were in the process of demolition in the back of the building. Amesbury Truth makes window and door products, including weatherstripping made out of foam and other materials.

That demo work is the cause of the leak, said Mark Cholach, Henrietta Fire District assistant fire chief.

“As part of that, there were three to four large tanks of this material,” Cholach said. “The tanks had been cleaned out. They were in the process of demolishing those tanks and the associated pipes that ran from the tanks to the building. It appears that during the demolition of one of those pipes, that chemical came out and exposed the patients.”

Tuesday, February 12, 2019 @ 01:02 PM gHale

A 54-year-old worker died after he was found in a vat of sulfuric acid at a South Lyon, MI-based steel manufacturing firm.

Daniel Hill was fully submerged in the 10-12 percent sulfuric acid solution Saturday afternoon as his Michigan Seamless Tube co-workers attempted to pull him from the industrial container, burning themselves from the at least 160-degree chemical solution, Fire Chief Robert Vogel said.

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“Other employees, co-workers saw him in the tank,” Vogel said. “He was completely submerged and was 100 percent covered in burns. The gentleman was trying to get out. They ran and grabbed him and pulled him out.”

Roughly 11 hours later, Hill died of chemical burns at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, said Kristin LaMaire, administrative assistant to the Washtenaw County Medical Examiner.

South Lyon police responded to an emergency call at about 12:21 p.m. to the manufacturing facility at 400 McMunn St., Police Chief Chris Sovik said. The employees placed Hill under a safety shower, and medics then transported him to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

“He was speaking when we were there,” Vogel said. “He was walking and talking. Unfortunately, he passed. It was pretty extreme burns.”

It was unclear how Hill ended up in the vat and how long it was before he was rescued, he said.

The co-workers who assisted Hill sustained burns to their hands, Vogel said. Medics treated them at the scene.

Mark Hommel, a Michigan Seamless spokesman who works in human resources, described Hill as “a valued employee” who was with the company since April 2017. He said the company is conducting a “comprehensive investigation” and is “cooperating fully” with the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) investigation.

Pardeep Toor, public information officer for the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department, said MIOSHA’s investigation of the incident has begun.

“MIOSHA cannot provide information on an open investigation,” he said. “Typically, this type of investigation may take several weeks or months to complete.”

Michigan Seamless Tube, one of South Lyon’s largest employers, has had seven workplace safety violations since 2012, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, with fines totaling $93,000.

Michigan Seamless Tube is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hammond, Indiana-based Specialty Steels Works Inc. The company emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2017 and renamed from Optima Specialty Steel. It also owns steel manufacturers Niagara LaSalle Corp. in Hammond and Corey Steel Co. in Cicero, Illinois.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 @ 04:02 PM gHale

Mark Stein (Owner) and Laurie Gates (Administrative Manager/Safety Director).

Watertown, SD-based ESCO Manufacturing, Inc., is an industry leader in illuminated signage, constructing quality signs for retail and custom sign companies nationwide.

Their product offering serves three markets: Commercial, schools and churches, and outdoor advertising. Products range from one-of-a-kind specialties to an entire production run of signs. ESCO Manufacturing uses channel letters with light-emitting diode (LED) or neon illumination; aluminum and steel custom shaped cabinets; flex, poly, aluminum or routed faces, any of which can be decorated with digital prints, vinyl, or spray.

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ESCO Manufacturing heard about the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program through another employer in Watertown that had a positive experience with their consultants’ services. The company reached out to OSHA On-Site Consultation Program in an effort to improve their workplace safety and health program. Since 2004, ESCO Manufacturing has been a client of the South Dakota State University, On-Site Consultation Program. They first contacted the consultation program for an initial site visit and safety assessment, and the company has been a repeat customer.

The OSHA On-Site Consultation Program offers no-cost and confidential occupational safety and health services to small- and medium-sized businesses in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories, with priority given to high-hazard worksites. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement and do not result in penalties or citations. Consultants from state agencies or universities, such as South Dakota State University, work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice for compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing and improving safety and health programs.

During the full-service, comprehensive safety and health visits in 2016 and 2017, minor hazards were identified and immediately corrected in the presence of the consultant. Immediate correction of hazards included disposal of worn electrical cords and removal of debris from electrical panel rooms.

Tracking Method
A tracking method was used to monitor long-term corrections of more complex hazards until the abatements were completed. For example, a potential hazard was identified around the opening of the vacuum former. After discussing this concern with the consultants, guards were added, and signage, restricting employees’ access to the hazard, was prominently displayed. Another potential hazard was identified in the neon room. With the consultant’s guidance, a light curtain was added to ESCO Manufacturing’s neon bending room. This curtain shuts off power to the testing table if employees enter that area while testing is being performed.

After working with the consultants, a number of business practices were changed.

“In addition to our monthly company-wide safety meetings,” said Laurie Gates, ESCO administrative manager and safety director, “we have increased the focus of our monthly safety committee meetings. We implemented an accident investigation process to be used on all first reports and near misses. We also conduct monthly safety training and safety inspections.”

“By working with the OSHA On-Site Consultation Program, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of injuries,” Gates said. We have also seen a significant decrease in our Workers Compensation costs. Our days without a lost time accident is close to 1,000 days, which is a drastic improvement from a few years ago.” ESCO Manufacturing’s experience modifier rate dropped from 0.80 in 2015 to 0.67 in 2018; value of worker’s compensation claims went from $9,088 in 2015 to zero in 2018; and worker’s compensation premiums were lowered from $48,516 in 2015 to $28,658 in 2018.

“We have grown,” said Gates, “and our payroll increased over this period. The savings is actually understated because worker compensation is a calculation that includes payroll figures. If payroll stayed the same, the saving would have been even more dramatic.”

The company is over 50 years old. Several employees simply were comfortable with well-honed work processes. Initially, getting everyone on the same page with changes to the safety program proved challenging, but over time – through monthly training, ongoing communication, audits, and employee involvement – a safety culture emerged.

SHARP Program
After the full-service, comprehensive safety and health visits in 2016 and 2017, ESCO Manufacturing decided to apply to participate in the OSHA Safety and Health Recognition Program (SHARP). This program recognizes small business employers who have used OSHA On-Site Consultation Program services and operate exemplary safety and health programs. Acceptance of a worksite into SHARP from OSHA is an achievement of status that singles ESCO Manufacturing out among its business peers as a model for worksite safety and health.

“Earning the OSHA SHARP award and flag has helped raise awareness within the company of the need to work safely and to follow safety procedures,” said Mark Stein, owner. “This program has highlighted areas where we need to improve, and it reinforced some of the workplace safety and health policies and procedures we already had in place. Working for SHARP was a goal that everyone in the company stood behind, helped make happen, and will work to sustain.”

“The On-Site Consultation Program has had a huge impact on our company,” Stein continued. “The program helped us implement programs and procedures in place to make our facilities safer. We have seen a dramatic decrease in the number of injuries that we have on-site. Working safely and wearing personal protective equipment are now a part of our culture. We also include information about our safety record and SHARP certification in our interviewing and new hire on-boarding processes. We have found that most applicants look favorably upon a prospective employer that has a strong safety record.”

Thursday, January 31, 2019 @ 04:01 PM gHale

Graduates Lieutenant Mark Mulla (left) of the New Orleans Police Department and Lieutenant Marina Turner (right) from the United States Coast Guard stand with Michael Wallace (center), director of Tulane’s Emergency and Security Studies.
Source: Jennifer Zdon

Security careers are in huge demand and with a lack of people to fill all the openings, one university is receiving high grades in its offerings.

Tulane University’s Homeland Security online master’s program received high marks from, including the third-best online master’s program and the top program for intelligence officers for 2019.

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“The Tulane Homeland Security Studies program is proud to be included in this list,” said Michael M. Wallace, professor of practice and director of Tulane’s Emergency and Security Studies. “The program’s courses are tailored for the current and future practitioner and draw heavily from the expertise developed in New Orleans, a U.S. municipality that has a great amount of experience in dealing with homeland security issues.”

Since its online debut in 2016-17, Tulane’s master’s in homeland security program, which is offered through the Tulane School of Professional Advancement, is for individuals with front-line experience, including first responders, community volunteers, veterans or active-duty military members.

The program prepares students to work in the fields of emergency management, intelligence analysis, counterterrorism analysis, cybersecurity, border protection and security and infrastructure protection at all levels of government and in the private sector.

Tulane’s courses range from domestic and international terrorism and intelligence research methods to examinations of emergency management and border security. The curriculum dives deep into the policies and strategies used in today’s advanced homeland security sector.

Students have the opportunity to build on real-world experience to develop the strategic and analytical skills to plan for and prevent emergencies within complex organizations such as corporations, government agencies and nonprofit organizations.

Friday, January 11, 2019 @ 01:01 PM gHale

It is easy to see why security expenditures will continue to grow because global spending in manufacturing automation for the Internet of Things (IoT) is poised to take off this year, researchers said in a new report.

While IoT spending is forecast to reach $745 billion this year, which is a hike of 15.4 percent over 2018, the industries forecast to spend the most on solutions this year are discrete manufacturing ($119 billion), process manufacturing ($78 billion), transportation ($71 billion), and utilities ($61 billion), according to the report by research firm, IDC.

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On top of that global IoT spending will maintain a double-digit annual growth rate throughout the 2017-2022 forecast period and surpass the $1 trillion mark in 2022, according to IDC.

“Adoption of IoT is happening across industries, in governments, and in consumers’ daily lives. We are increasingly observing how data generated by connected devices is helping businesses run more efficiently, gain insight into business processes, and make real-time decisions. For consumers, access to data is changing how they are informed about the status of households, vehicles, and family members as well as their own health and fitness,” said Carrie MacGillivray, vice president, Internet of Things and Mobility at IDC. “The next chapter of IoT is just beginning as we see a shift from digitally enabling the physical to automating and augmenting the human experience with a connected world.”

IoT spending among manufacturers will be largely focused on solutions that support manufacturing operations and production asset management. In transportation, more than half of IoT spending will go toward freight monitoring, followed by fleet management.

IoT spending in the utilities industry will be for smart grids for electricity, gas, and water. The industries that will see the fastest compound annual growth rates (CAGR) over the five-year forecast period are insurance (17.1 percent), federal/central government (16.1 percent), and healthcare (15.4 percent).

“Consumer IoT spending will reach $108 billion in 2019, making it the second largest industry segment. The leading consumer use cases will be related to the smart home, personal wellness, and connected vehicle infotainment,” said Marcus Torchia, research director, Customer Insights & Analysis. “Within smart home, home automation and smart appliances will both experience strong spending growth over the forecast period and will help to make consumer the fastest growing industry segment overall with a five-year CAGR of 17.8 percent.”

The IoT use cases that will see the greatest levels of investment in 2019 are driven by the industry spending leaders: manufacturing operations ($100 billion), production asset management ($44.2 billion), smart home ($44.1 billion), and freight monitoring ($41.7 billion).

The IoT use cases expected to deliver the fastest spending growth over the 2017-2022 forecast period provide a picture of where other industries are making their IoT investments. These include airport facility automation (transportation), electric vehicle charging (utilities), agriculture field monitoring (resource), bedside telemetry (healthcare), and in-store contextualized marketing (retail).

The United States and China will be the global leaders for IoT spending in 2019 at $194 billion and $182 billion respectively. They will be followed by Japan ($65.4 billion), Germany ($35.5 billion), Korea ($25.7 billion), France ($25.6 billion), and the United Kingdom ($25.5 billion).