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Another large cyberattack is underway that could dwarf last week’s worldwide assault

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Ransomware

Another large-scale, stealthy cyberattack is underway on a scale that could dwarf last week’s assault on computers worldwide, a global cybersecurity firm told AFP on Wednesday.

The new attack targets the same vulnerabilities the WannaCry ransomware worm exploited but, rather than freeze files, uses the hundreds of thousands of computers believed to have been infected to mine virtual currency.

Following the detection of the WannaCry attack on Friday, “researchers at Proofpoint discovered a new attack linked to WannaCry called Adylkuzz,” said Nicolas Godier, a researcher at the computer security firm.

“It uses the hacking tools recently disclosed by the NSA and which have since been fixed by Microsoft in a more stealthy manner and for a different purpose,” he said.

Instead of completely disabling an infected computer by encrypting data and seeking a ransom payment, Adylkuzz uses the machines it infects to “mine” in a background task a virtual currency, Monero, and transfer the money created to the authors of the virus.

Virtual currencies such as Monero and Bitcoin use the computers of volunteers for recording transactions. They are said to “mine” for the currency and are occasionally rewarded with a piece of it.

Proofpoint said in a blog that symptoms of the attack include loss of access to shared Windows resources and degradation of PC and server performance, effects which some users may not notice immediately.

“As it is silent and doesn’t trouble the user, the Adylkuzz attack is much more profitable for the cyber criminals. It transforms the infected users into unwitting financial supporters of their attackers,” said Godier.

Proofpoint said it has detected infected machines that have transferred several thousand dollars worth of Monero to the creators of the virus.

The firm believes Adylkuzz has been on the loose since at least May 2, and perhaps even since April 24, but due to its stealthy nature was not immediately detected.

“We don’t know how big it is” but “it’s much bigger than WannaCry”, Proofpoint’s vice president for email products, Robert Holmes, told AFP.

A US official on Tuesday put the number of computers infected by WannaCry at over 300,000.

“We have seen that before — malwares mining cryptocurrency — but not this scale,” said Holmes.

The WannaCry attack has sparked havoc in computer systems worldwide.

Britain’s National Health Service, US package delivery giant FedEx, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica and Germany’s Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit.

Source : AFP

Tech

This app to provide overview of COVID-19 pandemic globally

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Apple App Store

London, April 3 (IANS) Researchers have created a web application that provides an overview of the coronavirus pandemic across the globe, in a way that is more interactive than other maps and statistics.

The app titled ‘COVID19’ is based on data from Johns Hopkins University in the US, the Danish National Serum Institute in Denmark, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations.

“We began working on the app as a pet project, to deal with our boredom and inability to physically meet up. While Skyping one day, we wondered why we couldn’t find a graph that portrayed the evolution of coronavirus cases in Denmark,” said Phillip Bredahl Mogensen from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, one of those behind the app.

According to the study, the app provides an overview of how COVID-19 is spreading and the number of people who have both passed away and recovered.

Statistics from every country on earth are available and readily compared. For example, in only a few clicks, one can see how Spain or Italy are faring with the pandemic compared to Denmark.

They also said that this is the first app that attempts to estimate suspected numbers – as opposed to reporting back confirmed positives from the test result.

“With the help of Danish and South Korean mortality statistics, we are able to provide an estimate of how many people were actually infected 20 days ago,” explained Bredahl Mogensen.

“For example, on March 9, there were 92 confirmed cases in Denmark. We estimate that there were actually between 1,163 and 3,615 people infected. In other words, 10 times the number of people were infected as compared to the official statistics,” he added.

The researchers used South Korean COVID-19 mortality data because the country has been dealing with the epidemic for a longer period of time and because South Korea has broader and more precise data sets than other countries.

“Even though the method is under development, and has yet to be validated, it presents an incredibly interesting estimate of the unknown extent of this virus,” the authors wrote.

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Health

App that screens cough sounds for possible COVID-19 on anvil

‘kAs’, which is Sanskrit for cough, is the brainchild of Hyderabad-based startup Salcit Technologies and IT firm Zensark Technologies Private Limited.

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Coronavirus outbreak

Hyderabad, April 2 : Even as the world is trying to come to terms with the extent of the COVID-19 pandemic, an app developed in Hyderabad could help in significantly reducing the time and resources spent in the preliminary screening of people for the dreaded coronavirus.

One of the major problems confronting the authorities and health agencies is the complexities involved in testing and confirming the presence of the coronavirus in a person.

The app, ‘kAs’, can identify the presence of respiratory conditions that indicate exposure to COVID-19 by analysing the coughing sounds of people, making preliminary screening possible for large numbers of people in a relatively short timeframe.

‘kAs’, which is Sanskrit for cough, is the brainchild of Hyderabad-based startup Salcit Technologies and IT firm Zensark Technologies Private Limited.

Speaking to IANS, Manmohan Jain of Zensark said, “The app works on the principle that different respiratory diseases have different cough signatures. Depending upon the respiratory health conditions, such as pneumonia or bronchitis, the cough originates in different parts of the respiratory system, resulting in a specific cough signature for a particular problem.”

The app was originally developed as a screening aid for general respiratory issues in remote and rural areas. According to Narayana Rao of Salcit, the app has undergone clinical validation for diseases such as bronchitis and pneumonia, where it gave good results.

However, with the COVID-19 outbreak, the promoters woke up to the possibilities of harnessing kAs’ capabilities as a prescreening and monitoring device for the pandemic.

Jain said, “Apart from fever, the highest indicator of coronavirus is cough, and kAs can effectively help in pre-screening efforts at places such as migrant shelters and railway shelters where large number of people have to be pre-screened or monitored.”

The developers are categorical that the app is not a replacement for laboratory testing but can only be considered as a prescreening and monitoring tool.

The app is ready and awaiting clearances for general availability in Google Play Store as the COVID-19 outbreak is a serious health issue.

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Tablighi Jamaat: Maulana Saad’s audio goes viral, 6 booked

According to the internal sources of Markaz, the FIR lodged by the Delhi Police has cooled down the Markaz management.

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Nizamuddin Tablighi

New Delhi, April 1 : An audio clip which is going viral on social media has stunned the authorities, as someone can be heard saying that “there is no need of social distancing also it is not written anywhere in our religion”. There are claims that this voice is of Mohammad Saad Kandhawali, the head of Markaz Tablighi Jamaat.

In the audio clip, some other people can also be heard. However, IANS is not authenticating the audio but some people near to Saad believe that it is Kandhawali’s voice. In the clip which has apparently reached the crime branch of Delhi Police, sneezing and coughing by other people can also be heard.

On Wednesday, when IANS contacted Jamaat Headquarter’s spokesman Mohd. Ashraf regarding this clip, he said: “Those who have been booked by the police include the people who went to meet Nizamuddin SHO on March 23-24 along with Saad”.

On the query that if the Maulana is not guilty of anything then why is he absconding he replied: “I met him a week ago. Since then I have neither met him nor contacted him in any way. It is possible that he may be staying with a relative or has returned to Kandhla.”

According to a Delhi Police crime branch source, a search is on for Maulana Saad and his companions. Police teams are conducting raids at many places but have not found them so far.

The police source said they can also take the help of the Muzaffarnagar (UP) police or send their own team to Kandhal. Nothing concrete can be said before the authenticity of the clip is established.

The person whose voice is in the clip can be Maulana Saad also, the source said.

The sources in the Delhi Police crime branch and Nizamuddin police station have said that five people who have been booked, plus Maulana Saad, are the same who were handed over the notice on March 23-24 by Nizamuddin SHO Mukesh Walia. They were advised to vacate the Markaz headquarters. The video of this meeting was accessed by IANS on March 31.

The FIR lodged by the crime branch on the basis of the facts unearthed so far also includes a section under the Epidemic Diseases Act. Also the people who have been made accused or suspects in the FIR include Maulana Saad. His companions, Mufti Shahzaad, Mohd. Saifi, Dr. Jishaan, Mohd. Salman have also been named.

According to the internal sources of Markaz, the FIR lodged by the Delhi Police has cooled down the Markaz management.

The sources said that the evacuation process at the Markaz was started at around 3 a.m. on Wednesday. Around 2,000 people were inside, who have been taken to different places and have been quarantined. The police have also taken over the Markaz headquarters.

(Sanjeev Kumar Singh Chauhan can be reached at [email protected])

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