14&15, May 2017

1.Ransomware scrapes Maharashtra police, as CERT-In sounds red alert

Source: The Hindu

The country’s cyber security agency alerted Internet users about a strong and globally active ransomware virus — ‘Wannacry’— that critically infects work-stations and locks them remotely.

The red- coloured critical alert:

  • The red-coloured ‘critical alert’ was issued by the Computer Emergency Response Team of India (CERT-In), the nodal agency to combat hacking, phishing and to fortify security-related defences of the Indian Internet domain.
  • It has been reported that a new ransomware named Wannacry is spreading widely. Wannacry encrypts the files on infected Windows systems. This ransomware spreads by using a vulnerability in implementations of server message block (SMB) in Windows systems.
  • This exploit is named as ETERNALBLUE,” an advisory issued by the CERT-In.

The ransomware called ‘WannaCry’ or ‘WannaCrypt’ encrypts the computer’s hard-disk drive and then spreads laterally between computers on the same local area network (LAN).

The CERT-In has suggested some anti-ransonware measures:

  • Check regularly for the integrity of the information stored in the databases.
  • Regularly check the contents of backup files of databases for any unauthorised encrypted contents of data records.
  • Do not open attachments in unsolicited emails even if they come from people in your contact list .
  • Never click on a URL contained in an unsolicited email, even if the link seems benign.
  • In cases of genuine URLs (universal resource locators), close out the email and go to the organisation’s website directly through browser.
  • The most important advisory by the CERT-In stated .
  • Individuals or organisations are not encouraged to pay the ransom as this does not guarantee files will be released.
  • Report such instances of fraud to CERT-In and law enforcement agencies.

2.What is Ransomware?

Source: The Hindu

  • Ransomware is a form of malicious software that locks up the files on your computer, encrypts them, and demands that you pay to get your files back.
  • Wanna Decryptor, or WannaCry, is a form of ransomware that affects Microsoft’s Windows operating system.
  • When a system is infected, a pop up window appears, prompting you to pay to recover all your files within three days, with a countdown timer on the left of the window. It adds that if you fail to pay within that time, the fee will be doubled, and if you don’t pay within seven days, you will lose the files forever. Payment is accepted only with Bitcoin.

How does it spread?

  • According to the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCRT), under the Department of Homeland Security, ransomware spreads easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software.
  • Experts say that WannaCry is spread by an internet worm — software that spreads copies of itself by hacking into other computers on a network, rather than the usual case of prompting unsuspecting users to open attachments.
  • It is believe that the cyber-attack was carried out with the help of tools stolen from the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States.

Some forms of malware can lock the computer entirely, or set off a series of pop-ups that are nearly impossible to close, thereby hindering your work.

What can be done to prevent this?

  • The best way to protect your computer is to create regular backups of your files. The malware only affects files that exist in the computer.
  • If you have created a thorough backup and your machine is infected with ransomware, you can reset your machine to begin on a clean slate, reinstall the software and restore your files from the backup.
  • According to Microsoft’s Malware Protection Centre, other precautions include regularly updating your anti-virus program; enabling pop-up blockers; updating all software periodically; ensure the smart screen (in Internet Explorer) is turned on, which helps identify reported phishing and malware websites; avoid opening attachments that may appear suspicious.

Who has it affected so far?

It was first reported from Sweden, Britain and France, but Russia and Taiwan are said to be the worst hit, according to US media. Over 75,000 systems have been affected. Major companies that have reported attacks are FedEx, Telefonica and National Health Service (UK).

ransomware

3.Kerala tops, Bihar last in public affairs index

Source: The Hindu

  • Public affairs index (PAI) for the year 2017 has been released. The PAI aims to rank the states of India objectively in the field of governance based on various focus subjects and indicators and is an initiative of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC).
  • The survey was based on 10 themes, 26 focus subjects and 82 indicators. The report was based on a wide range of themes such as essential infrastructure, support to human development, social protection, women and children, crime, law and order, delivery of justice, environment, transparency and accountability, fiscal management and economic freedom.
  • The PAC is a not-for-profit think-tank focussed on good governance, which was established in 1994.

State wise category:

  • For the second year running, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have maintained their positions as the states with the best governance in the country. They are followed by Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka.
  • Among 12 small States (population less than two crore), Himachal has wrested the first rank, followed by Goa and Mizoram. Delhi slipped from third position in 2016 to 9th position in 2017. Meghalaya (12th), Arunachal Pradesh (11th) and Jammu Kashmir (10th) are at the bottom of the table.
  • Punjab is the best performer among all States in the category of essential infrastructure. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat secured second, third and fourth positions, respectively.
  • In human development, Kerala, Maharshtra, and Punjab are top of the table while Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam are the worst performers.
  • Kerala, Assam and Madhya Pradesh secured top three ranks in implementation of social protection policies, while Telangana, Haryana and Punjab are lagging in execution of various State and Central government schemes.
  • In the category of women and children, Kerala topped the list followed by Odisha and Karnataka while Jharkhand, Haryana and Maharashtra are poor performers.
  • Tamil Nadu secured first rank in maintaining law and order, delivery of justice and environment categories and secured last rank in transparency and accountability in the administration.
  • Telangana is the best performer in fiscal management while its neighbour Andhra Pradesh is the poor performer and secured last rank.
  • In the category of economic freedom, Gujarat secured top rank while Bihar secured the last rank.

4.Xi evokes Panchsheel as India skips meet

Source: The Hindu

Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed five principles of peaceful co-existence or Panchsheel — the brainchild of China, India and Myanmar in the 1950s — as the mantra for advancing the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI), and as a vehicle for achieving sustainable globalisation.

  • Despite India’s decision to skip the two-day Belt and Road Forum (BRF), the once special relationship between New Delhi and Beijing echoed during the opening session of the conclave.

India boycott: BRF

India’s decision to boycott the BRF, as a mark of protest against the infringement of its sovereignty by the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Islamabad’s openness for a dialogue with India, and offered to accommodate “all countries” in the CPEC.  That the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is an economic undertaking open to all countries.

Know about Panchsheel:

  • The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, known in Nepal and India as the Panchsheel Treaty, are a series of principles which formed the bedrock of the relationship between India and the People’s Republic of China.
  • Their first formal codification in treaty form was in an agreement between China and India in 1954.
  • They were enunciated in the preamble to the “Agreement (with exchange of notes) on trade and intercourse between Tibet Region of China and India”, which was signed in Peking on 29 April 1954.

This agreement stated the five principles as:

  1. Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  2. Mutual non-aggression.
  3. Mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.
  4. Equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.
  5. Peaceful co-existence.

5.Aquatic animal diseases revisited

Source: The Hindu

The national surveillance programme for aquatic animal diseases in India, one of the largest fish disease surveillance programme implemented in the country, is all set to begin a new phase.

A road map proposed for taking the surveillance programme to the next level includes developing disease-free zones and targeted active surveillance for fish pathogens in India. The programme is led by the ICAR-National Bureau of Fish Genetic Resources (ICAR-NBFGR).

What they are?

The mass mortality of goldfish in West Bengal in 2014 was confirmed to have been caused by cyprinid herpesvirus-2.

The presence of another important pathogen, Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei, was reported for the first time from the shrimp species Litopenaeus vannamei and infection caused by Perkinsus olseni were reported in Asian Green Mussel, a new host.

What are the needs to improvement this programme?

  • The focus of the programme is on strengthening the “passive surveillance system in the country,” and to improve disease reporting by farmers and state fisheries officers.Around 1,100 farms in as many as 110 districts across the country are being monitored regularly.
  • Diagnostic capabilities for major OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health)-listed diseases of finfish, crustaceans and molluscs were developed under the surveillance programme and capability for diagnosis of emerging pathogens is also being continuously upgraded in the 16 States and three Union Territories.
  • To provide means for rapid detection of new and exotic infectious disease.
  • To provide evidence of freedom from diseases of concern within a defined geographical area or a specific population.
  • To collect the information on distribution and occurrence of diseases of concern.
  • To assess the efficiency of disease control programme with a defined geographical area.
  • To improve reporting requirements to World organization for Animal Health(OIE) and regional Quartely Aquatic Animal Disease Reporting System and enhance compliance to OIE standards.

6.Why does the Indian Ocean rise and fall?

Source: The Hindu

How is global warming affecting oceans?

There are two broad mechanisms at work. Heat trapped in the atmosphere due to rising sea levels makes water expand and separately, melting ice sheets begin to add water to the world’s oceans.

NASA’s satellite data on the average rise and fall in sea levels, it shows that the seas on average have risen 85 mm since 1993, adding about 3.5 mm annually.

Why is the Indian Ocean peculiar?

  • Since 2004, it has been known that the Indian Ocean has been rising particularly rapidly.
  • However, it turned out that this was specific to a smaller stretch called the North Indian Ocean, which consists of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and a large part of the Indian Ocean until the 5 degree S latitude.
  • This is an imaginary line cutting through Indonesia, central Africa and Peru.
  • More surprisingly, as a team of oceanographers observed in a report published in the March edition of the peer-reviewed Climate Dynamics, the North Indian Ocean sea levels actually dipped between 1993 and 2004, at about 0.3 mm per year, but after 2004, the rise was 6 mm annually. Such a fluctuating trend hasn’t been observed for the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.

Why did this happen?

  • Unlike the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, the North Indian Ocean is hemmed in on all sides, except an outlet on the southern side.
  • This influences the rate at which heat is absorbed and flushed out from within the system.
  • According to their calculations, heat was moving out slower after 2004 than during the 1990s. Moreover, wind flows, which led to warm water welling up on the Indian Ocean surface, changed directions every decade and probably influenced sea level patterns.

What does this imply?

  • This means a rise in average global temperature doesn’t mean a concurrent rise in sea levels everywhere.
  • Every year in the last decade has broken temperature records that have held for over a century but researchers associated with this study are willing to wager that North Indian Ocean levels may see a fall over the next decade (like seen between 1993 and 2004).
  • This points to a need for more research to understand the inherent variability of the Indian Ocean. This could help sharpen monsoon forecasts and predicting coastal erosion patterns. Better understanding of sea level undulations could also inform future reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Does this challenge conventional science?

  • It doesn’t challenge it but certainly complicates it. Researchers use various models to extrapolate future trends on sea level rise and quantify the risk it poses to coastal populations.
  • Several of these model, however, lack the resolution power to capture the vagaries of local climate and it is assumed that what is true for one sea will broadly apply to the others too.
  • For this study the scientists relied on new data sources–from argo floats and satellite-based measurements — and it indicated numbers at variance from previous measurements, from tide gauges. More micro-level data with improved computing power would mean better local-level forecasts.

7.Pneumonia vaccine to be part of immunisation drive

Source: The Hindu

  • India has rolled out the long-awaited anti-pneumonia vaccine as part of the government’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP). The vaccine will protect children against severe forms of pneumococcal disease, such as pneumonia and meningitis.
  • The three-dose pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) will be rolled out in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, six districts of Uttar Pradesh and 17 districts of Bihar as a part of the first phase. The vaccine will give protection against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause pneumonia disease.

Pneumonia

  • Pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths in children under five years of age globally and in India. India accounts for nearly 20% of global pneumonia deaths in this age group. There are over 90 different types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause a range of problems.
  • Every year, 59 lakh children die worldwide before their fifth birthday, of them 9% die due to diarrhoea, 16% due to pneumonia. India shoulders the highest burden of child pneumonia and diarrhoea deaths with Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola taking up the next four spots.

UIP:

  • Universal Immunization Programme is a vaccination program launched by the Government of India in 1985. It became a part of Child Survival and Safe Motherhood Programme in 1992 and is currently one of the key areas under National Rural Health Mission(NRHM) since 2005.
  • The program now consists of vaccination for 12 diseases– tuberculosis, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, poliomyelitis, measles, Hepatitis B, Diarrhoea, Japanese Encephalitis, rubella, Rotavirus and Pneumonia.

 



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