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Cyberattacks that shook everyone in year 2020. Pixabay

In a virus-hit year that kept more people hooked to their Internet-connected devices for far too long, cybercriminals saw more opportunities to push their agenda and garner profit, resulting in a huge number of ransomware attacks, data breaches, and even very sophisticated nation-state sponsored attacks.

The biggest of them perhaps came to light towards the end of the year when cybersecurity company FireEye earlier this month revealing that it became a target of hackers who accessed tools that the company uses to test its customers’ security.

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While the scale and size of the attack are still being determined, it has now emerged that this is no ordinary cyberattack affecting just one organization. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, suspected Russian hackers installed malware in the Orion software sold by the IT management company SolarWinds, and accessed sensitive data belonging to several US government agencies, at least one hospital, and a university.

At least 24 big companies including tech giants like Intel, Cisco, VMware, and Nvidia installed the software laced with malicious code, said the report. “This attack is different from the tens of thousands of incidents we have responded to throughout the years,” FireEye CEO Kevin Mandia said in a statement.

Microsoft President Brad Smith said that this latest cyber-assault is effectively an attack on the US and its government and other critical institutions, including security firms. Earlier this year, Marriott International sent shock waves when the hotel chain announced that personal information of close to 5.2 million guests may have been accessed using the login credentials of two employees at a franchise property.

The biggest of them perhaps came to light towards the end of the year. Pixabay

The Twitter cryptocurrency hack in the middle of the year was another major incident that revealed how vulnerable cyberspace was. The social media platform revealed that it was a “coordinated social engineering attack” by people who successfully targeted some of the company’s employees with access to internal systems and tools.

In this attack, accounts of major public figures including then-US presidential candidate Joe Biden, Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Apple, and Uber were simultaneously hacked by attackers to spread a cryptocurrency scam.

This year, British low-cost airline group EasyJet also revealed that it became a target of a “highly sophisticated cyber-attack” that affected approximately nine million customers. In August and September, the New Zealand stock exchange (NZX) was hit with several cyberattacks, forcing the exchange to even halt trading at times. Even the Covid-19 vaccine research and distribution attracted the attention of cybercriminals.

Microsoft in November revealed that it detected cyberattacks from nation-state actors targeting seven prominent companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for Covid-19, including in India.

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The targets include leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea, and the US, and came from Strontium, an actor originating from Russia, and two bad actors originating from North Korea called Zinc and Cerium. In one of the biggest attacks in the Indian healthcare sector, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories confirmed a ransomware attack this year.

There are no signs that these attacks will slow down in any manner in the coming year which only underline the importance of strengthening cyberspace with greater security with new tools and policies. (IANS)


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Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.

On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.

Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.