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Companies prepare for more ransomware attacks on Monday

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London, May 15: Companies around the globe are preparing for an imminent cyber attack as the offices re-open on Monday, media reports said.

Cyber security experts predict that the scope of the attack could expand as people return to work and resume their work on computers, CNN reported on Monday.

Though a British security researcher “MalwareTech” managed to stop the spread of the virus, hackers have issued new versions that cybersecurity organisations are trying to counter.

“We will get a decryption tool eventually, but for the moment, it’s still a live threat and we’re still in disaster recovery mode,” the report quoted Europol Director Rob Wainwright as saying.

“MalwareTech” has predicted “another one coming… quite likely on Monday”, the BBC reported on Sunday.

The biggest ever ransomware attacks that started on Friday have wrecked havoc across globe, crippling computers and demanding hundreds of dollars from the users before they could regain control.

After taking computers over, the virus displayed messages demanding a payment of $300 in virtual currency Bitcoin to unlock files and return them to the user.

The number of ransomware-affected cases is still rising.

Europol has been analysing the virus and is yet to identify the hacking group behind the massive attacks.

MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an “accidental hero” after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.

“We have stopped this one, but there will be another one coming and it will not be stoppable by us,” the 22-year-old said.

“So there’s a good chance they are going to do it… maybe not this weekend, but quite likely on Monday morning.”

He also warned hackers could upgrade the virus to remove the “kill switch” that helped to stop it.

“Version 1 of WannaCrypt was stoppable but version 2.0 will likely remove the flaw. You’re only safe if you patch as soon as possible,” he tweeted.

Investigators are working to track down those responsible for the ransomware used on Friday, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry.

The virus exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software, first identified by the US National Security Agency.

IANS

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Make a WhatsApp voice or video call with Google Assistant

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

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New Delhi, July 12 : Google recently announced that Assistant would be able to make video and audio calls with WhatsApp.

This means that one can easily access WhatsApp and some of its options by triggering the Google Assistant from the home screen on your smartphone.

The voice calls commenced by Assistant were earlier used to place a network call for the user. While video calls could be set up via Hangouts or Duo only.

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

One may also wake up the assistant app using the dedicated key, if available or by long-pressing the Home button on your device.

When Google Assistant is open, use one of the two commands, “Make a WhatsApp call to [contact-name]” or “Call [contact-name] on WhatsApp and for video call just say “Make a WhatsApp video call to [contact-name]”.

To make things faster, one should add a nickname to the most frequently called contacts.

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Bill Gates warns ‘deadlier pandemic’ if vaccine goes to ‘highest bidders’

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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San Francisco, July 12 : Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned about a deadlier pandemic if successful drugs or a COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, go first to the highest bidders and not reach the common people who need it the most.

Addressing a remote COVID-19 conference hosted by the International AIDS Society on Saturday, Gates said democratizing the vaccine must be the goal, reports CNBC.

“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we”ll have a longer, more unjust deadlier pandemic,” he said.

“We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors,” Gates added.

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The fear is that once the vaccine is developed, the rich and the powerful people would grab it first.

However, despite encouraging preliminary data coming from some research labs, a Covid-19 vaccine is nowhere near while new corona cases are mounting in several countries including in India.

No vaccines have yet started their large and critical Phase-III trials in the US.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that AstraZeneca”s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently the most advanced vaccine in terms of development.

AstraZeneca”s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, developed by researchers from the Oxford University, will likely provide protection against the disease for one year, the British drug maker”s CEO told Belgian radio station Bel RTL recently.

The vaccine developed at the Oxford Jenner Institute is currently on trial in the UK, where over 4,000 participants have enrolled and additional enrollment of 10,000 participants is planned for the clinical trial. The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine has been licenced to AstraZeneca.

“Global cooperation, a resolve to invent the tools and get them out where they”re needed most is critical,” said Gates at the virtual event.

Gates in May said the vaccine development may take at least nine months to two years.

“Most of the drug candidates right now are nowhere near that powerful. They could save a lot of lives, but they aren”t enough to get us back to normal,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote in his GatesNotes blog.

In the absence of an “almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19”, it becomes imperative that every person on the planet gets vaccinated against coronavirus.

“Realistically, if we”re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

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Google to boost fake news, illegal content monitoring on YouTube

In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.

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Seoul, July 12 : Google’s video-sharing platform YouTube will cooperate with South Korea to closely monitor and prevent the spread of fake news and illegal content.

Google’s Senior Vice President Neal Mohan made the comments during a videoconference with Han Sang-hyuk, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC).

The remarks came after Han requested such cooperation, considering fake news surrounding Covid-19 and a recent high-profile digital sexual abuse case in South Korea, in which such illegal materials were distributed across social media platforms.

The regulator has kept a close watch over the tech giant this year.

Last month, Google voluntarily corrected subscription practices on its YouTube Premium service in the country, after the KCC found they were unfair for users.

The regulator also imposed a fine of $720,000 on Google for violating local telecom laws, as it did not properly notify users of YouTube Premium’s charged service.

In March this year, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company has taken down thousands of videos on YouTube related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information using its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology.

In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.

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