Zika virus data to be shared by global health communities

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Zika virus

New Delhi: The leading global health bodies, on observing the outbreak of Zika virus, have committed to sharing the data of the same and future public health emergencies as rapidly and openly as possible, said the Wellcome Trust.

This will also include India’s Department of Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology.

According to a statement by Wellcome Trust on Thursday, a joint declaration has been signed by organisations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and the US National Institute of Health.

It is believed that soon, other such bodies will come on board to strengthen the battle against the Zika outbreak, it added.

“Research is an essential part of the response to any global health emergency. This is particularly true for Zika, where so much is still unknown about the virus, how it is spread and the possible link with microcephaly,” said Dr Jeremy Farrar, director of the trust and a signatory to the declaration.

“It’s critical that as results become available they are shared rapidly in a way that is equitable, ethical and transparent. This will ensure that the knowledge gained is turned quickly into health interventions that can have an impact on the epidemic,” Dr Farrar added.

The joint declaration seeks to make “all content concerning the Zika virus free to access”.

“Funder signatories will require researchers undertaking work relevant to public health emergencies to set in place mechanisms to share quality-assured interim and final data as rapidly and widely as possible, including with public health and research communities and the World Health Organisation,” it said.

The Zika virus, which is known to occur in parts of Africa and Asia, is now spreading among the local American who have not traveled abroad.

Currently, no vaccine has been introduced to prevent the virus.

Zika virus is spread through the mosquito biting leading to fever, rash, pain and conjunctivitis. The symptoms can last from days to the week.

Zika virus is supposed to be associated with the infected mothers in Brazil giving birth to babies with small heads and underdeveloped brains. However, this remains unproven yet.

There has been a 20-fold increase in the number of babies born with this condition, known as microcephaly since Zika first appeared in Brazil in May 2015, researchers said.

More than 22 countries in the Americas have reported the sporadic Zika virus infections, indicating its rapid geographic expansion.

Luckily, no case of the virus has been reported till now in India but there is definitely the need to remain alert. (IANS)

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Truecaller Denies Breach as Indian Users’ Data Goes on Sale

ruecaller records of 4.75 crore Indians were being sold on web for just about Rs 75,000

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TrueCaller
Records of 4.75 crore Indians were being sold on the dark web for Rs. 75,000. Wikimedia Commons

After an online intelligence firm flagged that a cybercriminal was selling Truecaller records of 4.75 crore Indians on dark web for just about Rs 75,000, the Swedish caller identification app on Wednesday denied any breach of its database.

“There has been no breach of our database and all our user information is secure. We take the privacy of our users and the integrity of our services extremely seriously and we are continuously monitoring for suspicious activities,” a Truecaller spokesperson said in a statement.

“We were informed about a similar sale of data in May 2019. What they have here is likely the same dataset as before. It’s easy for bad actors to compile multiple phone number databases and put a Truecaller stamp on it.

“By doing that, it lends some credibility to the data and makes it easier for them to sell. We urge the public and users not to fall prey to such bad actors whose primary motive is to swindle the people of their money,” the spokesperson said.

Truecaller
“There has been no breach of our database and all our user information is secure.”, a Truecaller spokesperson said in a statement. Wikimedia Commons

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Online intelligence firm Cyble in a blog on Tuesday said that its researchers have “identified a reputable seller, who is selling 47.5 Million Indians Truecaller records for $1000. The data is from 2019.”

“Looking at the information itself, it has over 47.5 million records, and it includes interesting information such as phone number, carrier, name, gender, city, email, Facebook ID and others,” said the blog post.

On Wednesday, Cyble updated the blog to say that the same hacker has dropped another 600 million records for sale. (IANS)

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This Hacker Group is Selling User Data From 10 Firms For INR 13.6 Lakh Approx

The same hacker group was also behind selling a database of 22 million user records form online learning platform Unacademy on the Dark Web

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Hackers
The hacker group is known as ShinyHunters, the same group behind breaching private repositories on Microsoft-owned GitHub (the hacker is believed to have acquired around 1,200 private repositories) and Tokopedia. Pixabay

A hacker group is selling data of 10 companies including online dating app Zoosk, US newspaper Star Tribune and food delivery service Chef that contains over 73 million user records over the Dark Web for $18,000 (nearly Rs 13.6 lakh).

Other companies are printing service Chatbooks, South Korean fashion platform SocialShare, online marketplace Minted, online newspaper Chronicle of Higher Education, South Korean furniture magazine GGuMim, health magazine Mindful and Indonesia online store Bhinneka, reports ZDNet. The listed databases have 73.2 million user records, with each database sold separately.

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The hacker group is known as ShinyHunters, the same group behind breaching private repositories on Microsoft-owned GitHub (the hacker is believed to have acquired around 1,200 private repositories) and Tokopedia, Indonesia’s largest online store where a database of over 90 million user records was sold. A Microsoft spokesperson was quoted as saying that the company is investigating the incident.

The same hacker group was also behind selling a database of 22 million user records form online learning platform Unacademy on the Dark Web. Bengaluru-based edtech firm Unacademy said the all the sensitive data of its users was safe and the company was addressing the security issue.

Hackers
A hacker group is selling data of 10 companies including online dating app Zoosk, US newspaper Star Tribune and food delivery service Chef that contains over 73 million user records over the Dark Web for $18,000 (nearly Rs 13.6 lakh). Pixabay

“We would like to assure our users that no sensitive information such as financial data or location has been breached,” said Hemesh Singh, Co- Founder and CTO, Unacademy. Encouraged by the profits from the Tokopedia sale, the same group has now listed the databases of 10 more companies.

“Some believe the ShinyHunters group has ties to Gnosticplayers, a hacker group that was active last year that sold more than one billion user credentials on dark web marketplaces, as it operates on a nearly identical pattern,” according to the report.

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BleepingComputer reported that cyber intelligence firm ZeroFox informed them that Shiny Hunters had begun selling databases for the meal kit delivery service HomeChef, photo print service ChatBooks, and Chronicle.com, a news source for higher education. (IANS)

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Know Here About What Actually Makes Saturn’s Upper Atmosphere So Hot

As the spacecraft observed the stars rise and set behind the giant planet, scientists analysed how the starlight changed as it passed through the atmosphere

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Saturn
Electric currents, triggered by interactions between solar winds and charged particles from Saturn's moons, spark the auroras and heat the upper atmosphere. Pixabay

New analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini mission may finally explain why the upper layers in the atmospheres of gas giants — Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune — are hot, just like Earth’s.

As unlike Earth, the Sun is too far from these outer planets to account for the high temperatures, their heat source has been one of the great mysteries of planetary science Auroras at the planet’s north and south poles might be keeping the upper layers of Saturn, and possibly the other gas giants so hot, according to the findings published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Electric currents, triggered by interactions between solar winds and charged particles from Saturn’s moons, spark the auroras and heat the upper atmosphere. “The results are vital to our general understanding of planetary upper atmospheres and are an important part of Cassini’s legacy,” said author Tommi Koskinen, a member of Cassini’s Ultraviolet Imaging Spectograph (UVIS) team.

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“They help address the question of why the uppermost part of the atmosphere is so hot while the rest of the atmosphere — due to the large distance from the Sun — is cold.” Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Cassini was an orbiter that observed Saturn for more than 13 years before exhausting its fuel supply.

The mission plunged it into the planet’s atmosphere in September 2017, in part to protect its moon Enceladus, which Cassini discovered might hold conditions suitable for life. But before its plunge, Cassini performed 22 ultra-close orbits of Saturn, a final tour called the Grand Finale.

It was during the Grand Finale that the key data was collected for the new temperature map of Saturn’s atmosphere. For six weeks, Cassini targeted several bright stars in the constellations of Orion and Canis Major as they passed behind Saturn.

NASA
New analysis of data from NASA’s Cassini mission may finally explain why the upper layers in the atmospheres of gas giants — Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune — are hot, just like Earth’s. Wikimedia Commons

As the spacecraft observed the stars rise and set behind the giant planet, scientists analysed how the starlight changed as it passed through the atmosphere. Measuring the density of the atmosphere gave scientists the information they needed to find the temperatures. They found that temperatures peak near the auroras, indicating that auroral electric currents heat the upper atmosphere.

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And both density and temperature measurements together helped scientists figure out wind speeds. Understanding Saturn’s upper atmosphere, where the planet meets space, is key to understanding space weather, and its impact on other planets in our solar system and exoplanets around other stars. (IANS)