India Ranks Third in Asia for Ransomware Attacks

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India is the third highest Asian country to receive ransomware attacks a type of malicious software, says a new report, adding that with the growth in “Internet of Things” (IoT) industry, the vulnerability towards infections and new malware threats will only increase.

Sharing its security prediction in 2016, the US software security firm Symantec Corporation that produces software for security, storage, backup and availability said India receives ransomware attacks with over 60,000 attacks per year or 170 malware attacks per day.

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system.

This type of malware forces its victims to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods in order to grant access to their systems, or to get their data back.

According to Symantec’s “Internet Security Threat Report” (ISTR), India has evolved from law enforcement emails (seen largely in 2013) to crypto-ransomware.

According to Symantec, 86 percent of ransomware attacks in India were Crypto-ransomware.

Crypto-ransomware is a ransomware variant that encrypts and locks user files and will be released only in exchange of a payment.

Symantec recently partnered with the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) to build cyber-security skills in India and develop world-class skilled and certified professionals leading to employability, especially for youth and women to check the growing vulnerability towards cyber-attacks.

Aspirational project like “Digital India,” under which the country is progressing towards the establishment of its first 98 “smart cities”, has garnered the maximum attention from the IT sector as this project will rely heavily on technology because “smart cities” are technology-driven.

For this, according to a report by The Department of Electronics and IT, India eyes five-six percent share in $300 billion global IoT industry by 2020 and issued roadmap for development of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication which will lay foundation for IoT in the country.

A recent report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) said that India would surpass the US with 402 million Internet by 2016.

“India is poised to end 2015 with 402 million Internet users, overtaking the US whose Internet population is estimated at 300 million. India’s Internet population will go up by 49 percent in 2015 compared to last year,” the report noted.

The report added that this number is expected to further surge to 462 million by June next year as more people come online, especially through their mobile devices.

The IoT is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

The annual study from Symantec is based on findings from its global intelligence network of 41.5 million attack sensors, monitoring threat activity in more than 157 countries and territories.

New Augmented Reality App to Let You Control Smart Objects

Imagine having a lamp that turns down the volume on your TV when you dim the lights, or a car that switches on your home air conditioner when you leave the office. Now all this is possible thanks to a new app developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Fluid Interfaces Lab.

The Reality Editor is an augmented reality app that lets you link the smart objects around you together, just by drawing connections with your finger between them, Fastcodesign.com reported.

It uses fingerprint-like codes that sort of look like Pentagram’s new identity for the MIT Media Lab to identify smart objects when viewed within the app.

It then calls up a literal HTML webpage, representing that object’s corresponding functionality, and overlays it on the gadget so you can programme it.

“Imagine a future where everything around you can be controlled,” app developer Valentin Heun was quoted as saying.

“It goes to the deep origin of humanity: we are tool makers. We build empowering tools, to manipulate the world around us,” Heun added.

Right now, companies like Amazon and Google, which are designing objects for the smart home, use artificial intelligence and big data to try to anticipate users’ needs: in the case of the smart thermostat Nest, what temperature someone likes, for example.

But Heun says this is reductive, because the Internet of Things should actually empower users to have more control over the world around them, not take it away.

The app aims to give users power to fully control the smart objects in their lives.

Right now, the problem facing the app is support. If you have the know-how, you can build adapters for all the major smart objects.

Swatch Partners With Visa for Contactless Watch Payments

Swatch on Monday announced its partnership with Visa to introduce a contactless payment service in the US, Switzerland, and Brazil. The technology will debut with Swatch’s upcoming watch dubbed Bellamy next year.

It is worth noting that the company showed-off its Swatch Bellamy watch in China in October this year, with a price tag of CNY 580 (roughly Rs. 6,000). The smartwatch will be rolling out in China in coming months. Swatch says it will be using NFC technology for transactions. “Like a prepaid bankcard, a Swatch Bellamy watch allows customers to pay for items using merchants’ contactless POS terminals,” said the company.

Also mentioned was that ‘pay-by-the-wrist’ transactions in the watch will require no energy from the watch itself, resulting in battery life similar to regular watches.

Swatch CEO Nick Hayek in August said Swatch plans to add to its new smartwatch range. He said the company would launch Touch Zero Two at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. “Our product is called Touch Zero One and that gives enough room for Zero Five, Zero Nine,” Nick Hayek was quoted as saying by Switzerland’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper. “The Touch Zero One is not the end of the progression.” Swatch in August also said it plans to open between 30 and 40 shops in India after receiving permission from the country’s commerce ministry. The Swatch-branded stores will open over the next three years in a country where watches currently sell via dealer networks and third-party stores.

‘Life-Changing Conversation’ With Eric Schmidt Led to $5 Raspberry Pi Zero

If you are amazed by the Raspberry Pi Zero, a credit-card sized computer that is priced at an enticing $5 (roughly Rs. 320), you may want to thank Eric Schmidt for it. Former Google CEO and current executive chairman of Alphabet played a key role in the development of the cheap mini-computer.

Raspberry Pi Foundation founder Eben Upton told WSJ in an interview that it was Schmidt who suggested him that Raspberry Foundation should make a cheaper variant of its miniature computer instead.

The conversation, according to Upton, took place in 2013 when Google was granting Raspberry Pi Foundation a sum of $1 million to distribute its first device to school children. During the occasion, Schmidt had asked Upton about the organisation’s plan for the upcoming months. At the time, as Upton said, the organisation had plans to build a more powerful version of the Raspberry Pi, which would be priced somewhere around $50 (roughly Rs. 3,300) to $60 (roughly Rs. 4,000). Schmidt told Upton that it would be a wrong move to manufacture a higher priced computer.

“I told him we were thinking of making future Raspberry Pi’s a little bit more expensive, up at about $50 or $60, and a bit more powerful,” Upton told WSJ. “He said it was very hard to compete with cheap. He made a very compelling case. It was a life-changing conversation,”

The suggestion, Upton noted, compelled him to change his original strategy. “The idea was to make a more powerful thing at the same price, and then make a cheaper thing with the same power.”

Once completely nascent, the market of miniature computers has grown mature and crowded over the years with big players such as Intel and Asus now also offering mini computers.