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US cancels plans to allow Arctic oil drilling

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Washington: The US government has cancelled plans to allow oil drilling along the Arctic coasts of Alaska for the next two years, the interior department announced.

The decision signifies the elimination of offshore lease sales for oil drilling rights in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, and comes less than a month after the Shell oil company decided to suspend its exploration for crude and natural gas on the Alaska coast, EFE reported on Saturday.

On September 28, the Anglo-Dutch oil company announced the suspension of its plans in Alaska due to some “disappointing” results from an important oil well in the sea off Chukotka, that unfortunately coincided with a time when the price of crude was at its lowest in recent years.

“Shell will now cease further exploration activity in offshore Alaska for the foreseeable future,” the oil company said at the time. “This decision reflects both the Burger J well result, the high costs associated with the project, and the challenging and unpredictable federal regulatory environment in offshore Alaska.”

“In light of Shell’s announcement, the amount of acreage already under lease and current market conditions, it does not make sense to prepare for lease sales in the Arctic in the next year and a half,” interior secretary Sally Jewell said.

The Barack Obama administration also decided to refuse the requests of Shell and Norway’s Statoil to move to a later date the lease contracts in the Arctic they obtained from the government of George W. Bush.

The two offshore lease sales that the US had planned for the next two years were the one in 2016 for drilling rights in the Chukchi Sea and the other in 2017 for the Beaufort Sea.

Despite the hold on bidding during the next two years, the interior department still has plans for possible lease sales for drilling rights in the Arctic for the years 2020 and 2022.

The final decision in those two cases will be up to the US president elected in 2016.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have opposed all plans to drill for oil in the Arctic, warning that such operations could harm polar bears and seals.

(IANS)

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Heavy Cyber Attacks From Russia, US, China In India

These honeypots are developed to deceive even elite hackers and appear to be serving a specific purpose or organisation.

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A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture. VOA

India has been the target of over 4.3 lakh cyber attacks from five countries including China, Russia and the US while more than 73,000 attacks were initiated from India between January and June this year, says a Finnish cybersecurity company.

According to F-Secure’s honeypot data, Russia, the US, China, the Netherlands and Germany targeted India with 436,090 attacks. This is nearly 12 times more than which originated from India.

Honeypots are basically decoy servers that emulate the real IT environment of a business enterprise.

cyber attacks
Due to its nature, the chip is physically unclonable and can, thus, render the device invulnerable to hijacking, counterfeiting or replication by cyber-criminals. Pixabay

Russia accounted for most cyber attacks on India (255,589), followed by the US (103,458), China (42,544), the Netherlands (19,169) and 15,330 attacks from Germany.

On the other hand, the top five countries that were targeted by Indian cyber attackers were Austria, the Netherlands, the UK, Japan, and Ukraine — a total of 36,563.

F-Secure gave the break-up: Austria (12,540), the Netherlands (9,267), the UK (6,347), Japan (4,701) and 3,708 attacks targeted Ukraine’s businesses.

“The relatively higher number of inbound attacks on Indian honeypots reflects how the fast-digitising country is becoming more lucrative for global cyber criminals,” Leszek Tasiemski, Vice President of cyber security products R&D at F-Secure, said in a statement on Sunday.

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Experts: Cyber attacks Growing Increasingly Sophisticated. Pixabay

“We are gathering and analysing all the pertinent data to ensure that our customers stay protected given the dynamically evolving threat landscape,” he added.

To track these cyber attacks, F-Secure has deployed 41 honeypots across the globe.

“Our public honeypots are a valuable source of threat intelligence and an integral part of the infrastructure that powers our various security offerings, including our Rapid Detection and Response Service,” Tasiemski said.

Honeypots are set up explicitly to grab attention of attackers. They are used to gain critical insights on attack types, popular targets, sources, volume and TTPs (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures).

Such insights are collected by deliberately allowing potential attackers to gain unauthorized access to the emulated services of a server and then studying the attack path to the point that the attacker realizes it is a honeypot, F-secure said.

Also Read: U.S. Government Warns People Against China-Linked Hacking Group

These honeypots are developed to deceive even elite hackers and appear to be serving a specific purpose or organisation.

They enable F-Secure to collect the latest malware samples or shell scripts and new hacking techniques.

The research data is then processed to further benefit F-Secure customers via product enhancements and threat intelligence reports. (IANS)