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India at Risk? Cyber Attacks on ATMs will rise in Asia-Pacific (APAC) Region in 2017: Report

ATMs in underdeveloped countries are particularly vulnerable as those countries still have old ATM software and are running Windows XP

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Automated teller machine. Pixabay

New Delhi, November 28, 2016: At a time when people are making serpentine queues at ATM kiosks to withdraw cash owing to demonetisation, a new report said that cyber attacks on ATMs will rise in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region in 2017.

“We have seen a big focus on ATM attacks in the APAC region, including in India. ATMs in underdeveloped countries are particularly vulnerable as those countries still have old ATM software and are running Windows XP. This makes them the perfect target for an easier score,” US-based cyber security company FireEye claimed in its “2017 Security Landscape-Asia Pacific Edition” report.

The SBI blocked nearly 600,000 debit cards. Click To Tweet

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Recently, some premier Indian banks blocked debit cards that were compromised (the numbers ran into millions) in one of the financial sector’s biggest data breaches.

The State Bank of India (SBI), HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Axis Bank and YES Bank were among banks which reported several of their customers’ debit cards being compromised following a malware-related security breach in an ATM network. The SBI blocked nearly 600,000 debit cards.

This came on the heels of malware attacks and cyber threats that affected countries like Japan and Bangladesh this year.

“With the continued rise in ransomware activities across the globe, religious organisations may unexpectedly become a target of cyber criminals in 2017, adding that much of the threat activity in the Asia-Pacific region is from China,” FireEye continued.

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While talking about investments in security that organisations will make in 2017, FireEye predicts organisations making significant investments in the form of orchestration and automation in 2017.

“Organisations seeking to simplify everything in 2017 will set their sights on integration. A single pane of glass for all security needs will drastically improve the organisation’s security posture and show companies the true value of all the products they have acquired,” the report noted.

In general, the proliferation of cyber-physical systems and the Internet of Things (IoT) would present new opportunities for adversaries to abuse their connectivity and cause disruption at scale for a bigger payoff.

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“The combination of tools such as ransomware with more formalised illicit software-as-a-service (SaaS) franchised business models will become a more attractive and lucrative option for criminals with the proper skillsets and motivations,” FireEye pointed out.

Recently, a hacker group called Cobalt targeted ATMs across Europe and remotely attacked the machines using malicious software that manipulated the systems which led the machines to automatically dispense huge amount of cash. (IANS)

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 Indian hotels and resorts to Accomodate strong Wi-Fi security in Place to protect Travellers’ Data: FireEye

Travelers must be aware of the threats when in foreign countries and take extra precautions to secure their data

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Travellers
Travellers must take extra precautions to secure their systems and data when in foreign countries. Pixabay
  • APT28 has already attacked travellers in hotels throughout Europe and the Middle East
  • APT28 uses various hacking techniques, such as “EternalBlue” and “Responder” sniffing passwords from Wi-Fi traffic
  • Indian organisations must have strong security controls in place to detect attackers

India, August 12, 2017: A Russian hacking group “APT28” is targeting the hospitality sector globally and the Indian hotels and resorts must have strong Wi-Fi security in place to safeguard travellers’ data from being stolen, a cyber security company said on Friday.

APT28 has already attacked travellers in hotels throughout Europe and the Middle East in a campaign that dates back to July this year, according to the US-based company FireEye.

APT28 uses various hacking techniques, such as “EternalBlue” and “Responder” sniffing passwords from Wi-Fi traffic.

Also read: China-based hacker group now targeting IT service providers and manufacturing companies in India: US-based cyber security group FireEye

“One of the most concerning aspects of this operation is the victims included hotel guests who didn’t do anything wrong. They didn’t click a malicious link or open an attachment they shouldn’t have. They simply used the Internet over Wi-Fi in their hotels,” Subhendu Sahu, Acting Country Manager for India, FireEye, told IANS.

“Indian organisations should have strong security controls in place to detect attackers who compromise traveling employees’ systems and then follow them home like an unwanted souvenir,” Sahu added.

FireEye has claimed to have found a malicious document named “Hotel_Reservation_Form.doc”, sent in spear phishing emails to multiple companies in the hospitality industry, including hotels in at least seven European countries and one Middle Eastern country.

APT28 used EternalBlue and Responder to spread laterally through networks and target travelers to steal usernames and hashed passwords.

According to FireEye, APT28, in an incident in 2016, gained initial access to a victim’s network via credentials likely stolen from the hotel Wi-Fi network and hacked the victim’s Outlook Web Access (OWA) account.

Once inside the network of a hospitality company, APT28 seeks machines that control both guest and internal Wi-Fi networks.

“Cyber espionage activity against the hospitality industry is typically focused on collecting information on or from hotel guests of interest rather than on the hotel industry itself, though actors may also collect information on the hotel as a means of facilitating operations,” FireEye said.

“Business and government personnel who are traveling often rely on systems to conduct business other than those at their home office, and may be unfamiliar with threats posed while abroad,” it added.

Travelers must be aware of the threats especially when in foreign countries and take extra precautions to secure their systems and data.

“Publicly accessible Wi-Fi networks present a significant threat and should be avoided whenever possible,” FireEye warned.

There are also other hacking groups targeting travellers apart from APT28, including “South Korea-nexus Fallout Team” (also known as “Darkhotel”) and “Duqu 2.0”. (IANS)

 

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Raja Chari: Indian American Astronaut chosen by NASA

Raja Chari, an American of Indian descent, has been chosen by NASA as one of the 12 astronauts for a new space mission.

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Raja Chari. Twitter.
  • Raja Chari is an American of Indian descent chosen by NASA for the new batch of astronauts
  • Currently, he is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force
  • Chari will have to go through two years of astronaut training which begins in August

June 06, 2017: NASA has chosen 12 astronauts out of a record-breaking 18,300 applications for upcoming space missions. An American of Indian descent, Raja Chari, has successfully earned his spot in the top 12.

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. This batch of 12 astronauts is the largest group selected by NASA since two decades. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Born in Waterloo, Iowa, Chari graduated from Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He went on to complete his master’s in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The astronaut is also a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School.

Currently, Raja Chari is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. He is the commander of 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

After Late Kalpana Chawla, Lt. Col. Raja Chari is the second Indian American astronaut chosen by NASA.

The 12 astronauts will have to go through two years of training. Upon completion, they will be assigned their missions ranging from research at the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft by private companies, to flying on deep space missions on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Pence also said that President Trump is “fully committed” to NASA’s missions in space.

by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2393

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Over 5,000 Plant Varieties in Last 3 Years sent in by Tribal Farmers to protect the species : Minister

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Tribal Farmers
tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years (representational Image). Wikimedia

New Delhi, June 8, 2017: Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Wednesday said tribal farmers submitted more than 5,000 plant varieties in last three years through Krishi Vigyan Kendras for registration at the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Rights Authority.

It will play an important role in the development of climate resilient and sustainable varieties in future, he said at the National Workshop on Empowerment of Farmers of Tribal Areas here.

“New technological innovations in agriculture must reach to the fields of tribal areas but before taking such steps we must keep in mind the unique conditions of these areas, which are the gift of nature and therefore, we should promote natural farming in those areas,” he said, as per an official release. (IANS)

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