Microsoft builds digital solution for CBSE to prevent question paper leaks

At present, the solution is having its pilot run, but it has passed the first test with flying colours

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which came under heavy criticism this year following the leak of class 10 mathematics paper and class 12 economics paper, has forged a partnership with tech giant Microsoft to prevent such leaks in the future.

The paper leaks triggered nation-wide outrage among students and parents. This set the CBSE, which has 20,299 schools in the country, in action, paving the way for the partnership with Microsoft which developed an encrypted security solution for digital question papers for the board within a period of three months.

“We have developed for CBSE an innovative solution which makes question papers leak-proof until 30 minutes prior to the start of the examinations,” Anil Bhansali, Managing Director, Microsoft India (R&D) and Corporate Vice President, Cloud and Enterprise, told IANS in a telephonic interaction.

“But if the question papers get leaked after they are allowed to download (just half an hour before the start of the exam) due to some bad actors, the system allows easy traceability as question paper for each centre are watermarked,” Bhansali said.

At present, the solution is having its pilot run, but it has passed the first test with flying colours, Microsoft claimed.

As part of their collaboration, CBSE and Microsoft successfully executed in July the first ever pilot of the digital question paper generation and delivery process at 487 centres for compartment examinations for class 10.

How does the system work?

The system allows the Controller of examination to track the entire process using a software solution built on Windows 10 and Office 365.

The overall process is encrypted and a two-factor authentication process is embedded. So examiners will have to identify themselves before they can download the examination papers. They are allowed to download the papers (after authetification) only 30 minutes prior to start of the exams. (more)

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Wipro opens Data Discovery Platform for businesses on Microsoft Azure

Industry analysts say Wipro will need appropriate selling methods for such a solution

Wipro, India’s third-largest IT services firm, said it has made its cloud-based Data Discovery Platform available for customers on Microsoft Azure through a “pay-per-insight” model.

To be hosted on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure, the Data Discovery Platform is a big data analytics-as-a-service solution that can enhance the ability of businesses in sectors such as banking and financial services, retail, energy, education, and manufacturing to make better decisions using pre-built applications.

Company News : The platform can be used by businesses through an outcome-based model. “Data Discovery Platform leverages Microsoft’s Cortana Intelligence Suite, which includes HDInsight, Stream Analytics, Data Lake Analytics, machine learning, and Power BI to build analytical applications,” said the company in a statement, adding that both Microsoft and Wipro have collaborated in areas such as engineering, solution enhancement, and joint-go-to-market strategy.

“Today, the platform is a significant enabler of analytics-led digital transformation delivering analytics-as-a-service to organisations. We believe that this is a reflection of the Wipro Data Discovery Platform’s maturity and Microsoft’s confidence in the prowess of this platform,” said Pallab Deb, vice-president and global head (Analytics) at Wipro.

Industry analysts say such a solution will need appropriate selling methods, be it data and services packaged or otherwise, as the platform is digital in nature.

“This is going to be a different offering from that of traditional software services. Wipro needs a new-age approach to sell such a platform. Even though there is enough demand for such data analytics-based solutions, this cannot be sold like any traditional technology service,” said Sanchit Vir Gogia, founder and chief executive, Greyhound Research.

Billing for 800,000 affected as ransomware hits power company in Bengal

However, Wannacry has proved less severe than anticipated in Asia

The global Ransomware Attack has affected several computers of a state power distribution company in West Bengal but the central government computer system has largely escaped, officials said on Monday.

State agencies that manage government websites and build supercomputers have installed security patches issued by Microsoft Corp.

Federal Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters that there was no serious impact on India, with only isolated incidents in parts of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh states, and the government was monitoring the situation.

However, West Bengal Power Minister Sovandev Chattopadhyay told Reuters that several billing centres of the state’s Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL) had been infected by the ransomware worm.

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“The full extent and magnitude of the problem will be realised by tomorrow,” he said, the situation will be very serious if household electricity consumption data from the central server of the utility could not be retrieved beforehand.

A power department official who did not want to be named said billing for around 800,000 households was affected when the ransomware blocked access to files in the computers.

A senior official at the Federal Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said its Computer Emergency Response Team was gathering all possible information about the ransomware. Read more

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