Convergence Plus
IT/Security
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Ditching WhatsApp encryption will help terrorists: Facebook COO

Ditching WhatsApp encryption will help terrorists: Facebook COOFacebook has 4,500 people who work to stop any attempt from extremists to hijack the website.
Responding to a call that Facebook should do away with the encryption that prevents police from accessing WhatsApp data, the company's top executive has said such a move would make it difficult to track terrorists if government gets such access. The call for ditching the WhatsApp encryption emerged after five people were killed in an attack on March 22 when Khalid Masood ploughed his car into crowds on the bridge and tried to storm the Parliament. Masood is said to have used WhatsApp minutes before carrying out the attack.

"The goal for governments is to get as much information as possible, and so when there are message services like WhatsApp that are encrypted the message itself is encrypted but the metadata is not. Meaning that when you send me a message we don't know what that message says but we know that you contacted me," Express.co.uk quoted Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer Facebook, as saying on Saturday.

"If people move off those encrypted services and go to encrypted services in countries that won't share the metadata the government actually has less information, not more. And so as technology evolves these are complicated conversations. We are in close conversations working through the issues all around the world," she added.

With the growing terror attacks in London and Europe, social media has come under severe criticism for not doing enough to curb online terrorism. Facebook hired an online army of more than 7,000 people which is assigned to crack down on terrorists using the site.

Facebook also has 4,500 people who work to stop any attempt from extremists to hijack the site and the company plans to hire 3,000 more later this year.

"Our Facebook policies are very clear. There is absolutely no place for terrorism, hate or calls for violence of any kind. Our goal is to not just pull it off Facebook but to use artificial intelligence technology to get it before it is even uploaded," Sandberg said.

"We are working in collaboration with other tech companies now so if a video is uploaded to any of our platforms we are able to fingerprint it for all the others so they can't move from platform to platform," she added.(Source: ETtelecom)

TRAI to begin consultation on mobile apps seeking user data

TRAI to begin consultation on mobile apps seeking user dataMobile apps seeking blanket access to phone users’ information — even if irrelevant to their functions — have come under the lens of TRAI, which will start consultation on data privacy and security in the telecom sector, according to a top official. “There should be a link between what an application does and information the application is asking for... You will see a consultation paper... we are working on the issue,” Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) Chairman, R S Sharma, told PTI. On Friday, the Centre told the Supreme Court that data of users are “integral” to the right of life and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution and it would come out with regulations to protect the same.

The submission by the Centre was made before a five—judge Constitution bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra which was examining the contentious issue of 2016 privacy policy of WhatsApp. Without referring to the case, Sharma in a recent interview emphasised that information a mobile app asks for should be relevant to its purpose and that “minimal information principle” needs to be followed in normal course. “If an app has nothing to do with your, say, gender, then it should not ask for such information. That is the broad principle,” Sharma said, citing an example.

The TRAI chief declined to specify whether the consultation would result in norms or regulations around data privacy and security, saying it is “premature“. “I will raise various issues during consultation... the form (it takes) will depend on what stakeholders say, and also how much right we have as a regulator...,” he added. At present, discussions have started internally within Trai to look at these issues of data security and privacy in the telecom sector, he noted.

Sharma said he had flagged the matter at a recent ITU global symposium of regulators and stressed on the need for regulators to come together to fix “international norms” in this regard. ”...In case I am downloading an app and it asks for 20 information, completely irrelevant... and if I don’t provide that information, it does not download... then there should some basis for information that an application can ask for,” he said.

When contacted, Pavan Duggal, advocate, Supreme Court and a cyber law expert, said there are no adequate laws to govern mobile apps.

“The current dispensation is not enough. The IT Act is India’s only legislation governing the mobile ecosystem. But it has not gone in the direction of stipulating parameters of due diligence to be done by mobile app service providers,” he said.
Consequently, people’s data are continuously being used by “rogue apps” with consumers having no effective legal remedy, Duggal claimed, adding that Indian laws must therefore stipulate cyber security parameters for mobile apps (Source : The Hindu BusinessLine)

Intel chips in with Xeon to take on competitors

Intel chips in with Xeon to take on competitorsThe data centre processor promises speed, agility, security, networking features that are multiple times ahead of previous generation hardware.
With an eye on new markets including 5G telecom networks, Artificial Intelligence (AI), drones, driverless cars and even hi-tech farming and analytics-driven retail, world’s largest chip maker Intel has launched its new Xeon scalable processors. The data centre processor promises speed, agility, security, networking features that are multiple times ahead of previous generation hardware and offer ultra-low latency to meet demands of the fast accelerating digital life.The Xeon platform was in development over the last five years.

The $59-billion Intel Corporation is pinning its hopes on the re-architected chip to ward off fierce competition from Nvidia, AMD, Freescale, ST Microelectronics and others gearing up for next gen hardware needs of modern data centres, the engine rooms of the digital economy.

Navin Shenoy, executive vice-president, Intel said, “Less than 1% of data that’s generated is used, analysed or acted upon. Therein lies the opportunity to unlock that data.”

Shenoy in his keynote address elaborated on how traditional and new industries are fast adopting technologies that put huge demands on current data centre infrastructure. For example, farmers are using drones, satellite tech to increase food production without increasing land.

Offline retailers like Wal-Mart, Tesco, are using sensors and analytics to improve inventory management and customer experience. More companies want to use AI to power their businesses and next generation services. (Source: ETtelcom)

IT companies likely to post muted growth in Q1 due to wage hikes, stronger rupee and slow deals

IT companies likely to post muted growth in Q1 due to wage hikes, stronger rupee and slow dealsIndian information technology firms are expected to report a muted growth in the first quarter hurt by wage hikes, visa fees, stronger rupee and slower pace of large deal closures amid uncertainty surrounding protectionist measures in the United States. Analysts expect the country's largest IT services company Tata Consultancy ServicesBSE 2.95 % to report a constant currency sequential growth of 2-3 per cent, while InfosysBSE 0.92 % is expected to grow between 2-2.8 per cent. WiproBSE 2.88 % is expected to post a fall of 0.8-1.4 per cent. HCL is expected to outpace most of its rivals with a growth expectation of between 2.6 and 3.3 per cent.

Last month, industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) projected software export growth in fiscal 2017-18 at 7-8 per cent in constant currency, down from 8.6 per cent last year.

"First quarter is likely to be the weakest Q1 since sub-prime crisis. However, shouldn't be a big surprise to investors," said Yogesh Aggarwal, head of research at HSBC, in a report.

"The US deal momentum is still slow with visa and protectionist noise, Europe is much stronger, but won't fully offset US weakness." The deal momentum, according to the analysts, has been weak across the board in banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) sector as well as the retail sector. Any pushback in deals will weaken growth momentum, they say. IT services firms are hoping that digital deals will offset decline in traditional services.

"Poor large deal wins and ramps across the board should drive an uninspiring Q1 earnings season.

The June-2017 quarter is likely to miss the seasonal strength of the quarter with organic constant currency growth ranging from -3 per cent to 2 per cent," said CLSA analyst Ankur Rudra in a report titled: Dry spell in June quarter.

The market will be on a watch out for any cyclical upturn visible in the results, outlook on margins in light of rupee appreciation, pricing pressures and need to change onsite staffing given the US immigration tightening, according to Nomura analyst Ashwin Mehta. Edelweiss analysts Sandip Agarwal and Pranav Kshatriya said margins would be under pressure this quarter.

"We expect seasonal margin pressure in Q1, led by visa costs and wage hikes to be further accentuated by 3.9 per cent sequentially INR appreciation against USD. We expect margins to further decline on increase in local hirings, though its impact would be gradual," they said in a report.

"Some of the impact will be compensated by improving operating efficiencies leading to 50-120bps margin decline." (Source: Economic Times)

For IT Professionals, A New $16 Billion Opportunity Opens Up

For IT Professionals, A New $16 Billion Opportunity Opens UpBig Data analytics sector in India is expected to witness eight-fold growth by 2025 - from the current $2 billion to reach $16 billion, say industry experts.
The Big Data analytics sectoris poised for exponential growth in India, boosting job opportunities in the IT sector. The Big Data analytics sector in India is expected to witness an eight-fold growth by 2025 - from the current $2 billion to $16 billion, according to industry experts. India, according to experts, is currently among top 10 Big Data analytics markets in the world. IT trade body Nasscom has set a target of making the country one among the top three markets in the next three years.

Earlier, Nasscom had identified six areas of specialisation in the Big Data Analytics domain that are expected drive growth in the sector: business analysts, solution architects, data integrators, data architects, data analysts and data scientists. "With the rising requirement for niche competencies in AI (artificial intelligence) and analytics, the skill/expertise of the IT workforce will spearhead the analytical transformation on critical business processes across the industry," Nasscom said.

According to Nasscom, the analytics export market grew by nearly 20 per cent in FY2017, posting a much higher growth compared to overall IT exports. According to Nasscom, the emergence of big data phenomenon in corresponding technologies is giving rise to new trends in the analytics domain.

The growth in the analytics sector has also boosted job opportunities in the sector. The number of analytics jobs has nearly doubled in the past one year, according to a study by Analytics India Magazine - a platform on analytics, data science and big data - and Edvancer Eduventures - an online analytics training institute. The Analytics & Data Science India Jobs Study 2017 has estimated close to 50,000 positions related to analytics are currently available to be filled in India. This increase in the number of jobs available in analytics is nearly twice that of the previous year and "suggests increased momentum in hiring in analytics and data science in India", says the study.

The study also said that skills in R and Python remain the most sought after that companies are looking for, with almost 36 per cent of advertised analytics jobs in India demanding R as a core skill and another 30 per cent Python, followed by Hadoop, SAS and Spark, among others.

Aatash Shah, CEO and founder of Edvancer Eduventures, said: "Jobs in analytics & data science have grown by 100 per cent over the last year adding tens of thousands of employment opportunities. However, a large portion of people in IT will need to re-skill themselves in data science to make the most of this employment boom." (Source: NDTV)

Companies more prone to cyber attack; 60% software unregulated

Companies more prone to cyber attack; 60% software unregulatedOver 49% of chief information officers identified security threats from malware as a major threat posed by unlicensed software

More than 60 per cent of the software used by companies in India is unregulated which poses a threat of cyber attacks, according to business practices firm EY.

“Many organisations secure their hardware. However, they do not pay attention to the software used, which could be unregulated,” Maya Ramachandran, Partner, Advisory Services Practice, EY told PTI. “More than 60 per cent of software used by companies in India is unregulated, which can pose a threat to cyber security,” she added. As per data of Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), over 50,300 cyber security incidents like phishing, website intrusions and defacements, virus and denial of service attacks were observed in the country during 2016. Last month, over 100 countries were hit by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware in one of the most widespread cyber attacks in history.

According to a recent EY survey, over 49 per cent of chief information officers identified security threats from malware as a major threat posed by unlicensed software, while 26 per cent employees admitted to installing outside software on work computers. “Several large corporations and multinational companies have started setting up software asset management offices that would look into the leading best practices of using software including compliance and licensing terms to the software vendor,” Ramachandran pointed out.

However, middle market companies are more concerned about running the business and may ignore peripheral matters including cyber security, she added. An organisation with stringent software asset management practices can operate a secure and cost effective IT environment, she said.

Software asset management would address inadvertent downloads of malware through unauthorised software, or software of unknown vendors and use of removable media to download software that is not supported in a corporate environment.

It would also address issues like use of older versions of software, unauthorised connection of personal devices to corporate networks, among others.(Source: The Hindu BusinessLine)

Internet on flights likely by August-end

Internet on flights likely by August-endInternet on flights in India could soon be a reality. The Centre is likely to permit it by August-end. "We're awaiting clearance from the Department of Telecommunications," said Lalit Gupta, joint DG, Directorate General of Civil Aviation. "International airlines are in talks with the aviation ministry. Currently, they have to switch off Wi-Fi in the Indian airspace (where inflight internet is banned on security grounds)." Gupta also said that Indian carriers like Jet Airways and SpiceJet are slated to take deliveries of the Wi-Fi-fitted Boeing 737 MAX by mid-2018.

About 70 airlines across the world offer inflight internet letting passengers email, livestream, use social media, download movies and even make calls. These include carriers that fly into India like Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Etihad.

In India, airlines like Jet Airways and Vistara offer a library of preloaded content downloadable onto electronic devices by linking to the aircraft's non-internet Wi-Fi. SpiceJet will give the facility by June-end. It must be understood that Wi-Fi is wireless local area networking. (Source: Times of India)

Telcos on high alert post global ransomware blitz

Wipro steps up security after receiving ‘threatening’ emailMobile phone companies, network vendors and tower operators are keeping a close watch for any disruption in operations in the aftermath of the deadly ransomware cyber attack that infected millions of computers in about 100 countries, including India, Russia, China and the UK. Top telcos said there was no immediate impact of the attack — caused by a malicious piece of software, or 'malware', known as WannaCry. They are taking steps to keep the country's phone networks secure and insulate them from potential malware attacks in future, they said.

The global cyber attack, which had reportedly leveraged hacking tools believed to have been developed by the US National Security Agency, wreaked havoc in UK’s health system and hit global shipper FedEx.The malware is called ransomware because it first encrypts a victim’s computer files and then demands a payment to decrypt them. Once this malware enters an organsation’s computer systems, it looks for vulnerable machines and clinically infects them.

“Vodafone India has taken measures to protect its systems and continues to monitor the situation closely as it is aware that some corporations and organisations are being targeted by ransomware attacks,” said a company spokesman in an emailed response to ET’s queries. The world’s top networks vendor Ericsson also confirmed that its India unit “is not impacted” by the ransomware, adding it “is taking necessary preventive actions” to secure its business. The Swedish gearmaker, however, declined to elaborate on these measures. Tower firm American Tower Corporation (ATC) also said its India unit “had not been affected”.

The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), the lobby body representing the country’s top phone companies Bharti AirtelBSE 0.93 %, Vodafone India, Idea CellularBSE -2.87 % and newcomer Reliance Jio Infocomm, said nothing in terms of networks disruption had been reported by any of its members. COAI director general Rajan Mathews said telecom service providers (TSPs) “regularly monitor their networks and take suitable precautionary measures to preclude any cyber attacks.”

The TSPs, he said, “regularly participate in cyber drills conducted by India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert-In) to check the preparedness of their networks for such attacks,” and, based on the results take corrective actions suggested by the agency. Allaying concerns, Mathews said mobile phone companies strictly comply with the security requirements specified by the telecom department and all “network elements along with their softwares are tested before inducting them into the network and a yearly audit of these is carried out by certified agencies,” to maximise network security.

Mathews, however, said the ransomware attack “should be seen as a watershed moment” and the government must invest more in cybersecurity preparedness, especially “as India moves towards strengthening its digital economy where the volume of online transactions will see a quantum leap.” As of press time, Bharti Airtel, Idea, Reliance Jio, Reliance Communcations, Aircel, Nokia India and Huawei India decliened to respond to ET’s queries on whether their businesses have been hit by the ransomware attack. (Source: Economic Times)

Cyberattack hits two lakh in 150 nations, number may rise

Cyberattack hits two lakh in 150 nations, number may riseFriday's "unprecedented" ransomware cyberattack has hit as many as 200,000 victims in over 150 countries, Rob Wainwright, the head of EU police agency Europol said on Sunday. He warned of possible fresh disruptions when workers switch on computers at the start of the working week. Monday was expected to be a busy day, especially in Asia which may not have seen the worst of the impact yet, as companies and organisations turned on their computers. "Expect to hear a lot more about this tomorrow (Monday) morning when users are back in their offices and might fall for phishing emails", or other as yet unconfirmed ways the worm may propagate said Christian Karam, a Singapore-based security researcher. Targets both large and small have been hit.

The countries that were hit included India. Investigators are looking for those behind the hack that affected systems at banks, hospitals and government agencies globally, media reports said. Technical staff scrambled on Sunday to patch computers and restore infected ones. The threat is "escalating" as cyber experts warned that another attack was imminent in coming days. Technical staff scrambled on Sunday to patch computers and restore infected ones.

Experts said the spread of the virus, dubbed WannaCry, which locked up more than 200,000 computers — had slowed, but the respite might only be brief. New versions of the worm are expected. The infected computers are largely out-of-date devices that organisations deemed not worth the price of upgrading or, in some cases, machines involved in manufacturing or hospital functions that proved too difficult to patch without disrupting crucial operations. "The latest count is over 200,000 victims in 150 countries and many of those will be businesses, including large corporations," said Rob Wainwright, the head of EU police agency Europol.

After infecting the computers, the virus displayed messages demanding a payment of $300 in Bitcoin in exchange for the locked files. Account addresses hardcoded into the WannaCry software code showed the attackers received $32,500 in anonymous bitcoin till Sunday, but that amount could rise as more victims rush to pay ransoms of $300 or more just one day before the deadline expires.

Organisations were discouraged from paying the ransom, as it was not guaranteed that access would be restored.The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows XP software, first identified by the US National Security Agency. A security update was released by Microsoft in March to protect against the virus. However, many NHS trusts had not applied it.

The threat receded over the weekend after a British-based researcher, who tweets under @MalwareTechBlog, said he stumbled on a way to limit the worm's spread by registering a web address to which he noticed the malware was trying to connect. However, researchers from three security firms dismissed reports that a new version of WannaCry had emerged. (Source: Times of India)

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