Sunday January 26, 2020
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Will India-France relationship get stronger?

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New Delhi: As the guest of honour French President Francois Hollande would be visiting India on 26 January at the Republic Day parade. Will the visit reflect a good sign of France-India relations?

It’s been almost two years to the date from Hollande’s first visit to India as the President. In the interregnum, a lot has changed around the world and in bilateral relations. The world is confronted with its biggest geostrategic challenge in the shape of the Islamic State (IS), which has emerged as a major threat to peace and security around the world and whose agents have already carried out numerous attacks in France, the US and many other countries.

The IS attacks in the Middle East have also led to the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War and over a million refugees have landed in the European Union. Hundreds more have perished in their attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea, seeking the safety of Europe.

The situation of the world economy is hardly any better, as over the last year or so it has been rattled by the Chinese tsunami and a European economy that seems stuck in low, jobless growth, with very few bright spots, including India, which seem to be keeping the global economy afloat.

With its expected GDP growth of about seven percent this year, India has kept its place as the fastest-growing large economy in the world for the second year running. Business ventures from around the world, including France, are now looking at India with renewed expectations. Ever since India elected Narendra Modi as prime minister in May 2014, there seems to be a new spring in the step of Indian relations with France.

Modi was in France twice in 2015, once on a bilateral visit in April and then again in November for the Climate Change Summit in Paris. Besides, Indian and French leaders have taken time out for bilateral discussions at practically all multilateral events like the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September and the G20 meet in Antalya, Turkey, in November.

Anyone looking for signs of this new sense of purpose and direction in the relationship needs to only look at the fresh movement in the long-pending deal over the purchase of the French Rafale multi-role medium range combat aircraft. After having been stuck for nearly seven years, when in January 2012, India finally opted for Rafale as the aircraft that would become the new backbone of the Indian Air Force, with 128 fulfilling the role, the French government and Rafale-manufacturer Dassault were hoping it would be only a matter of a few months more to close the deal and begin the supply of the aircraft.

On his first visit to France, at a joint press conference with Hollande in Palais Elysee, Modi sprung a surprise and announced that India would buy 36 Rafales in fly-away condition, saying that the terms of this deal would be finalised shortly.

The announcement came as a big relief to Dassault, which was on the verge of closing down the Rafale assembly line as it had no firm orders on hand from anywhere. Eight months later, as Hollande reaches India, hopes are high that the deal would be sealed during this visit with clear timetables for delivery of the aircraft and setting the scene for a bigger defence deal between the two sides.

Modi sees a big role for the French in creating a real manufacturing hub in the country, especially in areas where the French are normally strong, notably railways, aviation, defence, automobile, nuclear power etc. During his visit to France in April last year, Modi highlighted several times the focus of his government in improving the manufacturing sector and with several very aggressive incentive schemes to get the Indian private sector and foreign companies as well to invest more aggressively in order to boost the manufacturing capacities in the country.

Besides, Make in India, France is an equally good and logical partner for India in the implementation of several other projects that the country has been focussing on one of the most important areas for enhanced bilateral cooperation in the urbanisation of India.

In the smart city project, the French have already evinced interest in undertaking the work in three cities.

Another key area where France could lend a helping hand to India is the country’s power sector, in conventional, nuclear as well as renewable energy sources. The biggest boost in this collaboration was received during the Climate Change Summit. At the event, India, along with dozens of other nations, launched the International Solar Alliance, aimed at pooling resources and technologies to boost the solar energy power plants throughout the nations that are blessed with an adequate number of sunny days.

So far, the Indo-French business relationship remains overwhelmingly dominated by the behemoths, with the very little engagement of the smaller companies, which ironically make up the bulk of both Indian and French economies. The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector is involved only in small volumes of trades in very traditional segments such as textiles, food, gems and jewellery.

But the reluctance of more SMEs to trade or do business with each other has led to a stagnation in Indo-French trade, which has been hovering around the seven billion euro mark for almost all of the past decade, despite several ambitious targets set by leaders on various occasions. This pales in comparison to the trade between India and Germany or India and the UK, both of which are nearly thrice as high as that of France.

The new focus areas of India could be the big breakthrough in this relationship which could help take the bilateral trade to the next level and give the bandwidth which has been missing from this crucial relationship for a long while.(IANS)(image: odishanewsinsight)

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Hackers Target 1 Indian Firm Over 1,500 Times a Week

Misconfiguration of cloud resources is still the number one cause for Cloud attacks, but now we also witness an increasing number of attacks aimed directly at Cloud service providers

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Bharat Bhise HNA, Hacker, Business
Hackers have the power to bring down your website or your entire network if they so wish. Pixabay

A single organisation in India was attacked an alarming 1,565 times per week on average in the past six months, compared to 474 attacks by hackers per organisation globally, says a new report.

According to researchers at Israeli cybersecurity firm Check Point Research, 93 per cent of malicious files in India were delivered via the web, compared to 35 per cent of malicious files globally.

The most common vulnerability exploit type in India is information disclosure, impacting 64 per cent of the organisations and the top malware in India is “XMRig” that impacts 17 per cent of firms, said Check Point’s ‘2020 Cyber Security’ report.

“2019 presented a complex threat landscape where nation states, cybercrime organisations and private contractors accelerated the cyber arms race, elevating each other’s capabilities at an alarming pace, and this will continue into 2020,” said Lotem Finkelsteen, Threat Intelligence Group Manager, Check Point Software Technologies.

It is pertinent to note that cryptominers still dominate malware landscape.

Even though cryptomining declined during 2019, linked to cryptocurrencies’ fall in value and the closure of the Coinhive operation in March, 38 per cent of companies globally were impacted by crypto-miners in 2019, up from 37 per cent in 2018.

This is because the use of crypto-miners remains a low-risk, high-reward activity for criminals.

“Detecting and automatically blocking the attack at an early stage can prevent damage. Check Point’s 2020 Security Report shares what organisations need to look out for, and how they can win the war against cyber attacks through key best practices,” Finkelsteen added.

Twenty eight per cent of organisations globally were hit by botnet activity, an increase of over 50 per cent compared with 2018.

Iranian, Hackers, Cyberattacks
FILE – In 2010, the Stuxnet virus disrupted operation of centrifuges at a uranium enrichment facility in Iran. VOA

Emotet was the most common bot malware used, primarily because of its versatility in enabling malware and spam distribution services. Other botnet actions such as sextortion email activity and DDoS attacks also rose sharply in 2019.

While the number of impacted organisations is relatively low, the severity of the attack is much higher — as seen in 2019’s damaging attacks against US city administrations.

Criminals are choosing their ransomware targets carefully, with the aim of extorting the maximum revenue possible.

Notably, 27 per cent of organisations worldwide were impacted by cyberattacks that involved mobile devices in 2019, down from 33 per cent in 2018.

While the mobile threat landscape is maturing, organisations are also increasingly aware of the threat, and are deploying more protection on mobiles.

Currently, more than 90 per cent of enterprises use Cloud services and yet 67 per cent of security teams complain about the lack of visibility into their Cloud infrastructure, security, and compliance.

The magnitude of Cloud attacks and breaches has continued to grow in 2019.

Also Read: 84% Indians Hope to Retain Their Jobs Despite Automation: WEF

Misconfiguration of cloud resources is still the number one cause for Cloud attacks, but now we also witness an increasing number of attacks aimed directly at Cloud service providers.

“Even if an organisation is equipped with the most comprehensive, state-of-the-art security products, the risk of being breached cannot be completely eliminated. Beyond detection and remediation, organizations need to adopt a proactive plan to stay ahead of cybercriminals and prevent attacks,” explained Finkelsteen. (IANS)