WannaCry ‘ransomware’ virus, a vulnerability stolen from the NSA: Microsoft

WannaCry – “ransomware” has locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries

Officials across the globe scrambled over the weekend to catch the culprits behind a massive ransomware worm that disrupted operations at car factories, hospitals, shops and schools, while Microsoft on Sunday pinned blame on the US government for not disclosing more software vulnerabilities.

Cyber security experts said the spread of the worm dubbed WannaCry – “ransomware” that locked up more than 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries – had slowed but that the respite might only be brief amid fears new versions of the worm will strike.

In a blog post on Sunday, Microsoft President Brad Smith appeared to tacitly acknowledge what researchers had already widely concluded: The ransomware attack leveraged a hacking tool, built by the US National Security Agency, that leaked online in April.

“This is an emerging pattern in 2017,” Smith wrote. “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.”

He also poured fuel on a long-running debate over how government intelligence services should balance their desire to keep software flaws secret – in order to conduct espionage and cyber warfare – against sharing those flaws with technology companies to better secure the internet.

“This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem,” Smith wrote. He added that governments around the world should “treat this attack as a wake-up call” and “consider the damage to civilians that comes from hoarding these vulnerabilities and the use of these exploits.” Read more

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No-fly list: Govt proposes maximum 2-year ban on unruly flyers

Draft rules, a first of kind in the world, have three levels with progressively higher sanctions

Almost a month after the country was shocked by the visuals of a parliamentarian assaulting an airline crew member for not being able to provide a business class seat as it didn’t exist, the government took steps to empower airlines to ban unruly passengers.

The centre on Friday released draft rules for a ‘no-fly list’ — a first of its kind in the world — for unruly passengers. The rules allow airlines to bar a passenger from three months to maximum two years depending on the intensity of the offensive behaviour. The government has placed disruptions from flyers into three categories — level-1 will include disruptive behaviour such as physical gestures etc., level-2 will be physically abusive behaviour like pushing, kicking and sexual harassment, and level-3 is for life-threatening behaviour and damage to aircraft operating systems.

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Punishment for unruly behaviour will simultaneously depend on the category of the offence.

The corresponding time of grounding for offenders, would be three months for level-1 and six months for level-2, while level-3 will attract a ban of two years. The new rules will be open for public comments for a month, and will pass through stakeholders’ consultation before being finalised.

“There is no other country in the world with a no-fly list based on safety. There are no-fly lists based on security where people are seen as grave threats and they are not allowed to fly. India is blazing a new trail in this regard,” Jayant Sinha, minister of state for civil aviation said. Read more

You can now switch from EPF to NPS and it’s not taxable: Here’s how

Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority has issued broad guidelines

India’s pensions regulator in India has allowed members of the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) option to move their retirement savings to the National Pension System (NPS) giving effect to a proposal mooted by the government two years ago in the Union Budget for 2015-16, an offcial statement said on Tuesday.

“With the NPS gaining momentum vis-a-vis other retirement products and a number of queries being raised on the transfer of amounts from recognised Provident/Superannuation Funds to NPS, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) has clarified the process through a circular dated March 6, 2017,” a Finance Ministry statement here said.

As the rules, a member looking to transfer funds from EPF to NPS must have an active NPS Tier-I account, which can be opened either through the employer where NPS is implemented or online through eNPS on the NPS Trust website.

The amount transferred from a recognised Provident Fund or superannuation fund to NPS would not be treated as income of the current year and, as such, would not be taxable.

“Further, the transferred recognised Provident Fund/Superannuation Fund will not be treated as contribution of the current year by employee/employer and accordingly the subscriber would not make Income Tax claim of contribution for this transferred amount,” the statement said.

How to go about it

The subscriber must approach the concerned PF office where their account is, through her or his employer and request to transfer their savings to an NPS account.

“The recognised Provident Fund/Superannuation Fund Trust may initiate transfer of the Fund as per the provisions of the Trust Deed read with the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961,” it added. Read more

India strikes back as Army conducts surgical strikes across LoC in Pakistan

Significant casualties inflicted on terrorists; Pakistani DGMO informed of strikes post operation

The Indian Army conducted surgical strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) on Wednesday night on launchpads where terrorists had amassed and positioned themselves to infiltrate into India, Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh informed the gathered members of the press at the joint briefing following the Cabinet Committee on Security meeting held on Thursday.

According to Times Now, a total of eight surgical strikes were conducted by the Indian Army. There were no Indian casualties during the operation.

Singh said that the strikes were based on credible information and that the terrorists were poised to conduct attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and other major metros in the country. Singh revealed that significant casualties were inflicted on the terrorists in the operation.

The DGMO added that he had contacted his Pakistani counterpart to inform him of the operation conducted by the Indian armed forces on Wednesday night.

“It has been a serious matter of concern that there has been continuing and increasing infiltrations by terrorists across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir. This is reflected in the terrorist attacks at Poonch and Uri on September 11 and 18, respectively. Almost 20 infiltrations attempts have been foiled by the Indian Army successfully this year. During these attacks and infiltration attempts, we have recovered items, including global positioning systems and stores which have had Pakistani markings,” the DGMO added.Read more.

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Indian-origin lawyer shoots 9 in US, killed by police

Indian-origin lawyer shoots 9 in US, killed by police

An Indian-origin lawyer with apparent Nazi sympathies went on an early morning rampage in US’ Houston city shooting nine people on Monday before he was killed by police, according to authorities.

Nathan Desai was wearing military-style clothing with Nazi symbols during the 20-minute shooting spree when he fired at passing cars.

Police said that they did not know why Desai went on the rampage hitting people at random.

Desai’s name was written with the ‘s’ capitalised in media reports in Houston, making it sound European, but his father was identified as Prakash Desai.

All of his victims survived but one person was critically wounded and five others were hospitalised, Houston’s Acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo said.

She described the shooter as a lawyer who was having problems at his law firm. When police responded to the shooting, he shot at them and was killed when policereturned fire, Montalvo said.

The shooter’s father, 80-year-old Prakash Desai told KPRC TV that his son was “worried” because his law practice was not doing so well.Read full article

PM tells BJP cadres how they should view Muslims

PM tells BJP cadres how they should view Muslims

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday gave a definite pro-poverty shift to his government’s policies and programmes for the next one year, even as he finally addressed the elephant in the room — how his party views or should view India’s largest minority, the Muslims.

In the concluding day address of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s National Council meeting, the PM announced that his government would ratify the climate change agreement on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. “The reason why I have chosen Gandhiji’s birth anniversary is because he led his life with the minimumest of carbon footprint,” Modi said.

The rest of his speech was devoted to the memory of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, the founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the earlier avatar of the BJP. Modi launched the birth centenary celebrations of Upadhyaya, who was elected the Jana Sangh president in this city in December 1967. The city was then known as Calicut. But he died under mysterious circumstances 41 days later.

Invoking Upadhyaya’s call for serving the poorest, Modi said the government at the Centre and in the states would mark the next one year as Garib Kalyan Varsh, the year for the welfare of the downtrodden.Read more

Uri attack: Military reviews ‘escalation ladder’

Uri attack: Military reviews ‘escalation ladder’

The strike by jihadi militants on Sunday on an army camp near Uri, in which 18 soldiers were killed and 29 injured, has inflamed tensions along the Line of Control (LoC). On Tuesday, the army shot down eight Pakistani militants after intercepting a 15-strong group that was discovered infiltrating from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK).

With public opinion and the media aroused, and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowing to punish those responsible; and the army’s top operations officer declaring the military would retaliate at a time and place of its choosing, both sides of the LoC are bracing for what might come.

New Delhi has pinned the attack on the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a militia controlled by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), a wing of the Pakistani Army. Home Minister Rajnath Singhhas declared Pakistan a “terrorist state” and the Indian Army, already grappling with public turmoil in the Kashmir Valley, is evaluating options to extract revenge for Uri.

Pakistan presents an easy target for an Indian diplomatic offensive against its terror-friendly ways, in western capitals and multilateral forums. However, a calibrated military riposte would need more careful consideration.(more)

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