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Indian-origin Google Researcher Neel Mehta links ransomware Attack to North Korea

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London/Washington, May 16, 2017: As the world struggles to identify cybercriminals behind the global ransowmware attack that hit 150 countries, an Indian-origin security researcher working with Google has claimed that the hackers may have links to North Korea.

According to Neel Mehta’s discovery, the “Lazarus Group” that works on behalf of North Koreans may be behind the attack as the hacking group has, in the past, used the same coding and tools as were used in “WannaCrypt” — the software used in the current hacking into the Microsoft operating software, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

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“Neel Mehta’s discovery is the most significant clue to date regarding the origins of WannaCrypt,” the report quoted Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab as saying.

“Lazarus Group”, that according to Mehta is based in China, was responsible for a major hack on Sony Pictures in 2014 and another on a Bangladeshi bank in 2016.

Kaspersky Lab, however, noted that a lot more information was needed about earlier versions of “WannaCrypt” before any firm conclusion could be reached.

“We believe it’s important that other researchers around the world investigate these similarities and attempt to discover more facts about the origin of ‘WannaCrypt’,” the cyber security company added.

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Though North Korea has never admitted any involvement in the Sony Pictures hack, security researchers and the US government are confident in the theory and neither can rule out the possibility of a false flag.

There are possibilities that skilled hackers might have simply made the hack look like it had origins in North Korea by using similar techniques.

Kaspersky noted that false flags within “WannaCrypt” were “possible” but “improbable”, as the shared code was removed from later versions.

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There is another possibility that “Lazarus Group” may be working independently and without the instructions from North Korea, the report added.

Meanwhile, the White House said on Monday that less than $70,000 has been paid in the ransomware attack globally.

“We are not aware of payments that have led to any data recovery,” White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert said at a daily briefing.

Specially, no US federal systems are affected, he said. (IANS)

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Google Launches New Shopping Search Features For Indian Users

Retailers can now also use Merchant Centre to upload product details so they can appear across Google, without paying for ad campaigns, Google said

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Google unveils new shopping search features for Indian users. Pixabay

Google on Thursday said it launched shopping search features to make the experience more personal and allow users to easily filter through offers, review prices from multiple retailers and find the products they are looking for.

The new experience is available via a “Shopping” home page, shopping tab in Google search and style search in Google Lens, an image recognition mobile app, Google said.

“More than 40 million Indians are coming online every year, and search is an integral part of their online journey,” Surojit Chatterjee, Vice President – Product Management, Google said.

“From seasoned desktop shoppers to first-time users with entry-level smartphones, we hope this new shopping experience will make finding what people are looking for just a little bit easier,” Chatterjee said.

The new “Shopping” home page is a made-to-browse destination for shoppers to search across multiple product categories, and browse products from thousands of retailers.

To make the shopping experience richer, Google said it added smart features like price drops and a collection of the most popular products on the search engine.

The experience will also be available as a Progressive Web App (PWA) for users with entry level phones, Google said.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

The “Shopping Tab” in Google Search will allow users to post queries in Hindi and English and show product lists, local store inventory and review prices from across multiple retailers.

Finally, “Style Search” in Google Lens is an all-new visual approach to find products such as clothes, furniture and home decor by simply pointing the Lens app.

Google also announced the availability of the Merchant Centre in Hindi starting Thursday, besides English.

For retailers, Merchant Centre offers the place to upload store and product data for Shopping ads.

So far, the Merchant Centre has been only available in English.

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Retailers can now also use Merchant Centre to upload product details so they can appear across Google, without paying for ad campaigns, Google said.

“With this launch, our aim is to support the entire retail ecosystem, from shopping sites and large retailers to small local shops, and give them the tools, technology and scale to thrive in today’s digital economy,” Chatterjee said. (IANS)