News Flash – 28 April 2017

National News

 

 

India ranks 4th in online security breaches

 

 

CHENNAI: As the risk of cyber threats looms over enterprises going digital, a Symantec study reveals that India ranks fourth when it comes to online security breaches, accounting for over 5% of global threat detections. The US and China occupy the top two slots and together make for almost 34%, followed by Brazil and then India. The year 2016 saw a resurgence of the email as an attack channel, multi-million-dollar virtual bank heists, ransomware and new frontiers like IoT and cloud getting exposed to threats. While China has managed to bring down hacks from nearly 24% in 2015 to under 10% in 2016, India saw instances of fraud increase from 3.4% in 2015 to 5.1% in 2016. “Symantec uncovered evidence linking North Korea to attacks on banks in Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ecuador and Poland. This was an incredibly audacious hack and the first time we observed strong indications of nation state involvement in financial cybercrime,” said Tarun Kaura, director (solution product management -Asian-Pacific & Japan), Symantec. “While their sights were set even higher, the attackers stole at least $94 million”.

 
Yahoo’s data breaches grabbed maximum eyeballs in 2016, after the company said in September that 500 million of its user accounts were compromised in 2014. Within a few months, the company came out with the shocker that over a billion user accounts were compromised making it the largest data breach ever been reported. Symantec data reveals that in the last eight years, more than 7 billion online identities have been stolen in data breaches. In 2016, more than 1.1 billion identities were stolen in data breaches, almost double the number stolen in 2015 (563 million stolen identities). The use of email as an infection point also rose, becoming a weapon of choice for cyber criminals and a dangerous threat to users. According to Symantec, 1 in 131 emails contained a malicious link or attachment -the highest in five years. Business email compromise (BEC) scams, which rely on little more than carefully composed spear-phishing emails -scammed more than $3 billion from businesses over the last three years, targeting more than 400 businesses every day.

 

Kupwara: Captain, 2 soldiers killed as terrorists attack Army camp

 

 

NEW DELHI/SRINAGAR: In yet another brazen suicide attack on an Army base in Jammu & Kashmir, three heavily armed terrorists killed three soldiers, including a Captain, and injured seven others after breaching the perimeter of the Panzgam camp, near Chowkibal in Kupwara district, early on Thursday. The soldiers on guard duty at the camp, though initially taken by surprise, swung into action to “contain” the terrorists in the firefight that erupted just after 4.40am. One sentry in particular, gunner Rishi Kumar, killed two terrorists despite being hit on his bulletproof headgear. The third terrorist managed to escape in the melee, according to the Army, though intelligence sources said there could have been a fourth attacker as well. The Pakistani-origin terrorists had probably infiltrated across the line of control some days ago and undertaken prior reconnaissance of the camp, which is spread over an area of 400×600 metres and houses over 1,200 soldiers, said an officer. In a related development, a 50-year-old man was killed and four others injured in firing by security forces later in the afternoon after angry stone-pelting villagers from Panzgam, Botapora and Thanpora gathered near the camp to demand that bodies of the terrorists be handed over to them.

 
The latest attack comes at a time when violent protests in the Kashmir Valley, the political assassination of a PDP leader and internal developments in Pakistan point to a season of heightened militancy. The death sentence to Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav and the court-appointed probe into PM Nawaz Sharif over the Panama Papers point to an assertive Pakistan army keen to step up violence in J&K even as public protests, tinged with extremist ideology, make the political situation volatile. The soldiers who died in the terror attack were identified as Captain Ayush Yadav (26), a resident of Kanpur (UP), Subedar Bhoop Singh Gujjar (46) from Malwa (Rajasthan) and Naik B V Ramanna (38) from Kancharapalem (Andhra Pradesh). There have been at least a dozen such terror attacks on Army camps and convoys in J&K over the last one year, in which over 35 soldiers and 12 terrorists have been killed, clearly indicating the emboldened nature of militancy currently underway in the Valley. India had carried out “surgical strikes” against seven terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after 19 soldiers were killed in a similar suicide attack at Uri in September last year.

 
With the snow in the mountain passes now melting, amid inflamed passions and stone-pelting mobs actively trying to disrupt counter-insurgency operations, officials said the Pakistan army-ISI combine was trying to push as many infiltrators as possible across the 778-km line of control. “It becomes relatively easier around this time since 30-40% of the LOC fence gets damaged due to heavy snow every winter. The assessment is that there are already over 250 active, trained and equipped terrorists in the Valley,” said a senior officer. Defence minister Arun Jaitley said, “The indomitable courage of our forces in safeguarding the country is exemplary. We salute the martyrs for their supreme sacrifice. My thoughts and prayers are with their families. We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured”.

 

Now, changing tracks on Western Railway gets smoother

News Flash_1 28.04.17

MUMBAI: The Western Railway (WR) has replaced all the landing rails, the point of intersection of two tracks where a train crosses over from one track to another with new ones. The landing rails are more prone to wear and tear, owing to pressure from wheels while trains switch tracks. The move comes well ahead of the stipulated time frame of 16 years in order to prevent rail fractures that are difficult to repair between Churchgate and Virar. The decision was taken after a rail fracture between Goregaon and Malad on March 3 this year led to disruption of 25 services. Ravinder Bhakar, chief public relations officer, WR, said, “We have replaced a total of 120 pieces landing rail between Churchgate and Virar. Usually, the replacement of such rail is carried out after 16 years but after the Goregaon incident we undertook the activity even though the landing rails had not completed eight years. Also, all the sleepers at the crossing have been changed”.

 
The cost of replacement of the landing rail is around Rs 1 crore as each costs Rs 80,000. A senior railway official said, “Most of the landing rails had developed cracks because of holes made to clamp tracks and passing of some cables, overhead equipment wires and signalling. There are supposed to be six holes on a landing rail but there were more when the system was operating on Direct Current”. Bhakar said, “We do not want to take chances during peak hours as any disruption can have a severe impact on the railway timetable. This was the best that we could do to minimize failures. Replacement was done by undertaking special blocks”.

 

Rising mercury, overload led to blackout in Chennai

 

 

CHENNAI: Many areas went without power from 9.15 pm on Wednesday till early on Thursday as 6 feeder lines supplying power to the northern parts and two transmission lines from Manali to Mylapore supplying power to Central and South Chennai tripped due to overload and high atmospheric temperature. In North Chennai, a feeder line tripped due to high temperature and the cascading effect led to all lines tripping. The Manali-Mylapore lines met the same fate leading to blackouts. Power was restored within 3 hours in some areas while others had to wait till morning as TNEB employees had to physically check the breakages. On April 30, 2016, many city areas went without power after the Sriperumbudur-Taramani line tripped. “As atmospheric temperature increased in the evening, the feeder lines from North Chennai thermal units coming towards Tondiarpet tripped as the demand was pretty high in the evening as many domestic consumers started using air conditioners,” said a senior Tangedco official.

 
In North Chennai, feeder lines are overhead and along the coast. “The saline atmosphere also affects lines, especially when the load is very high. The meteorological department told us atmospheric temperature in the evening would be at least 2 degrees above normal. Due to this we are loading all sub-stations below capacity to save the conductors and insulators from tripping,” said the official. Several parts of south Chennai escaped the black out as power was supplied by the Sriperumbudur to Taramani line. “Areas like Adyar and Thiruvanmiyur were not affected as the power is supplied by Guindy and Taramani sub-stations,” said the official. On reports that the blackout was a fallout of NTPC suspending supply from the Vallur thermal units as Tangedco had not paid the dues, the official said, “There is no link between last night’s blackout and non-supply of power from Vallur units. We are equipped to meet demand up to 16,000MW as there are several avenues available now for sourcing power. Each evening, the wind power generation is more than 3,000MW, which substitutes the losses from Vallur and Kudankulam Unit 1,” he said.

 

12 km-long traffic jam as TRS cadre clog highway

 

 

WARANGAL: It literally was one-way traffic on National Highway 163 with thousands of buses, tractors and cars headed to Prakashreddypeta in Warangal for the 16th TRS formation day celebrations. Thanks to the efforts that ministers, MPs and MLAs put in to ‘earn wages’ to meet the expenditure for the public meeting, those who came from different districts had what they called a ‘comfortable journey.’ A farmer from Kollapur in Mahbubnagar told TOI that they had started their journey on April 25 and had slept in function halls organised for them along the way. “We are happy that chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has taken interest in farmers’ welfare. We are also happy that he has announced Rs 4,000 per farmer twice a year for buying fertilizers. We are sure he will keep his promise,” he said.

 
Along the way from Hyderabad to Warangal, there were many who were seen travelling on tractors. Most tractors had about five to eight farmers each and the vehicles had protective covering to shield travelers from the sun. Around 5.30pm, irrigation minister T Harish Rao made a fervent plea to the police to clear the traffic jam on the roads leading to Warangal from different directions. He pointed out that on the Karimnagar-Elkathurthu route, there was a traffic jam extending up to 12 km. Some ministers also got caught in the traffic jam at Jangaon and Station Ghanpur near Warangal. It was noticed that the buses of some of the most reputed schools and engineering colleges were used to ferry people to Warangal.

 

90% mobile towers in Chennai miss safety check

 

 

CHENNAI: Is radiation from a mobile tower near you a source of persistent anxiety? If it is, not to worry, you’re not being paranoid. In a reply to an RTI query, the department of telecommunication (DoT) has admitted that it monitors only 10% of the city’s 36,442 mobile towers every year to ensure that radiation levels are within levels safe for human exposure. The reply did not reveal the reason for DoT monitoring just 10% of all mobile towers. Sources in DoT said shortage of manpower in the department’s Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring Cells do not permit them to conduct more exhaustive tests. “We don’t have enough staff to perform these tests”, an official said. In the RTI query, Madras high court lawyer K Karthikeyan of Kodambakkam also asked telecommunication officials for the number of mobile towers in the city. Stating that the city has 36,442 mobile towers, chief public information officer and director of DoT TERM cell, Chennai, D Thamizhmani said, “DDG [offices of deputy directors general] of TERM cells of the areas concerned are the competent authorities to receive complaints of excessive emission of radio frequency radiation from base transceiver stations (BTS) “.

 
On its official website, DoT says electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure limits from base station (mobile tower) emissions is 110th of the existing International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) exposure levels. “India now has one of the most stringent EMF exposure norms in the world,” the DoT website says. DoT official Thamizhmani said the department may levy a penalty of `10 lakh per BTS [base transceiver station] per service provider who does not conform to norms and does not resolve the issue within 30 days. He did not mention, however, how many service providers in Chennai DoT had penalised. Responding to another query about the number of radiation emission testing and certifying labs and research stations in India including Tamil Nadu, the official replied that he did not have those figures. But he said the office carries out tests on 10% of BTS in the jurisdiction of the Chennai TERM Cell area, as per guidelines of the Telecom Engineering Centre. Officials say exposure to radio frequency fields from mobile phones is generally 1,000 times higher than from mobile towers. In India, handsets that emit radiation in excess of a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 1.6wattkilo. Airtel has 9,607 mobile towers in Chennai, the most among all mobile telephone service providers. Vodafone (7,768) is second and Reliance Jio (6,190) third.

 

Mercury rises above 40°C in seven towns

 

 

AHMEDABAD: The reprieve from the extreme heat seems to have ended, with the mercury crossing the 40°C mark at seven towns in the state on Thursday. Surendranagar in Saurashtra was the hottest town in the state for the second day straight, at 42.3°C. Other towns in Saurashtra which had a scorching Thursday were Rajkot and Amreli, where the maximum temperatures were 41°C. Gandhinagar was the second hottest town in the state on Thursday, at 41.6°C. After five days of relative cool, Ahmedabad also saw the mercury rise to 40.7°C, which was 0.6 degrees below normal. The minimum temperature in the city was 22.2°C, some 3.5 degrees below normal. Relative humidity here ranged from 62% to 10% on Thursday. On Thursday, city roads were somewhat deserted in the afternoon but a breezy evening gave Amdavadis some consolation. According to the India Meteorological Department, the maximum temperature in the city will likely remain around the 40°C mark till Saturday. The maximum temperatures is likely to rise by a degree or two from Sunday onwards. The IMD has forecast dry weather in all districts of Gujarat and Saurashtra regions.

 

 

International News

 

 

Russian navy ship sinks in Black Sea, all 78 crew rescued

 

 

MOSCOW: A Russian naval reconnaissance ship sank Thursday after colliding with a freighter off Istanbul, but all crew members were rescued, the defense ministry said. Turkey’s coastal safety authority said all 78 personnel from the Russian frigate Liman were safe, as were all crew aboard the freighter, the Togo-flagged Youzarsif H. The freighter was carrying livestock. The defense ministry said a hole was punched in the starboard side of the Liman during the collision, which occurred around midday Thursday about 40 kilometers (25 miles) northwest of the Bosphorus Strait. The cause of the collision wasn’t immediately clear.

 
The Liman was part of the Black Sea Fleet. The Interfax news agency reported that it spent much of the winter in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria and returned to the Black Sea to monitor NATO exercises in February. The rescued Russian sailors were all aboard a Turkish rescue vessel and would be picked up by a nearby Russian cargo ship, the Ulus Star, the ministry said, without specifying the number of crew members. It said the cargo ship would deliver the sailors to the home base of the Black Sea Fleet, which is on Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

 

Suspected US drone strike targets Pak Taliban militants: Sources

 

 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN (Pakistan): A suspected US drone strike killed several Pakistani Taliban militants in North Waziristan close to the Afghanistan border, one militant commander and intelligence sources said on Thursday, in a rare strike on Pakistani soil. If confirmed, the air strike, which happened on Wednesday, would only be the second drone attack inside the nuclear-armed nation since US President Donald Trump took office in January. Abdullah Wazirstani, spokesman for North Waziristan Taliban, a group linked to the Pakistani Taliban, said the strike killed three civilian “labourers” and seven militants from the Pakistani Taliban, which is also known as TTP. Malik Waheedullah, a local tribal leader, told Reuters he saw two missiles strike a mountain home which caught fire. “I drove away as fast as I could,” he said.

 
One Pakistani intelligence official and government source said they believed the strike to be a US drone attack. US officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. North Waziristan was a Taliban stronghold until 2014, when Pakistan’s military launched a major offensive against the group and pushed many of its fighters across the border into Afghanistan. Sources from the TTP identified one of the dead militants as Abdur Rahman, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban. U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan have become rare over the past few years. In its last high-profile attack inside Pakistan, the United States last May killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.

 

UK police arrest man with knives in Westminster in anti-terrorism operation

News Flash_2 28.04.17

A man is held by police in Westminster after an arrest was made on Whitehall in central London, Britain, April 27, 2017.

 

LONDON: British police said armed officers arrested a man carrying knives near Prime Minister Theresa May‘s office in Westminster on Thursday on suspicion of preparing an act of terrorism. The 27-year-old man was detained by counter-terrorism officers on Parliament Street, a stone’s throw from the UK parliament building and May’s Downing Street office, during a stop and search as part of an ongoing operation, London police said. No one was injured in the incident, and May’s spokesman said the prime minister was not at Downing Street at the time. The incident comes just over a month after a British-born convert to Islam ploughed a car into pedestrians on nearby Westminster Bridge, killing four people, before stabbing to death a police officer in the grounds of parliament.

 
“Detectives from the Counter Terrorism Command are continuing their investigation, and as a result of this arrest there is no immediate known threat,” police said in a statement. “The man … was arrested on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism. Knives have been recovered from him”. The BBC said the man was being followed and tracked by police as part of a counter-terrorism operation when the arrest took place. Pictures on social media showed a large group of heavily armed officers surrounding the suspect. A Reuter’s reporter and photographer saw police detaining a dark-skinned, bearded man dressed in a hooded, black coat. His right hand appeared to have a bandage wrapped around it. Reuter’s pictures showed police officers standing by three knives lying on the ground. Police said the man was being held at a south London police station.

 

3 rescued after US Navy helicopter crashes near Guam

 

 

HAGATNA: Two pilots and a crew member have been rescued after the US Navy helicopter they were riding in crashed in waters near Guam. The Navy says today’s crash happened as the helicopter was conducting routine flight operations. Guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey rescued the pilots and air crewman, who were uninjured. The MH-6R Seahawk helicopter is assigned to Helicopter Marine Strike Squadron 78. The Sea Hawk is a twin-engine helicopter based aboard the Dewey. The Dewey, the helicopter and the USS Sterett destroyer are deployed as part of the Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group, which departed San Diego for the Western Pacific on March 31. The crash is under investigation.

 


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