WannaCry Ransomware

A prodigious cyber attacked organisations around the globe using tools stolen from the US NSA (Natio

A prodigious cyber attacked organisations around the globe using tools stolen from the US NSA (National Security Agency). There are reports of 150 countries affected since Friday which includes Russia and China too. The most serious attack was in the UK on NHS (National Health Service).

The ransomware attack happened on Friday and is considered to be one of the biggest so far hitting organisations from Russian Interior Ministry to FedEx, a delivery firm. News are that around 40 NHS organisations were hit affecting their operations and appointments getting cancelled.

What is a Ransomware?

It is a combination of ransom and software, and refers to any kind of malware that demands a ransom from a user in exchange for the return of the kidnapped file. This threat works like kidnapping in real life, except the things in captive are files –multimedia files, office files, system files or files that your system relies on to, or your confidential data. How does it spread? Typical methods such as attachment through un-solicited emails, clicking on a link on an email which are claimed to be from a delivery company or a bank , peer to peer file sharing networks being passed by activation keys through popular software such as Microsoft office, adobe etc

Types of attacks:

  • File coder: Which encrypts the files of your system and can be read only if decrypted.
  • Lock screen: Locks your computer and stops you from using it until you pay the ransom.

Fig: Countries affected initially in few hours according to Kaspersky’s research.

How does the malware work and who’s behind it?

This attack was deployed via a worm- that spreads by itself between the computers. The worm will hunt down all the vulnerable machines and infects them once it enters an organization. Many experts reported that the attack was built to exploit a weakness in Microsoft systems named EternalBlue identified by NSA. A group of hackers known as The Shadow Brokers stole the NSA tools and made it freely available in April claiming a protest against US President Donald Trump.

Many computers in hospitals were running on Windows XP and Microsoft stopped supporting this OS in 2014 and left it vulnerable to attacks. Government also warned the NHS to upgrade from Microsoft XP but NHS did no action on the matter and left an opportunity open to the hackers to attack the systems.

The above WannaCry Attack was shown on a save environment on a security researcher’s system. The virus took over user’s file and demanded $300 to restore the files.

Organisations in Europe and Asia are warning employees not to click on links of emails and attachments. And the ransom shouldn’t be paid as there is no guarantee that the files will be restored.

Microsoft is arguing that there shouldn’t be an obligation that it has to update all users and not just the one who pays extra for security on older versions. If the update is for an individual then it is not that huge but if the network is for big organisations like UK’s NHS then it will obviously be expensive and complex.

6 Easy Steps to Protect Yourself

Recently, there is no such tool or solution for WannaCry decryption, so users are strongly advised to follow preventive measures in order to protect their systems.

  • Keep your system Up-to-date: First of all, if you are using supported, but older versions of Windows operating system, keep your system up to date, or simply upgrade your system to Windows 10.
  • Using Unsupported Windows OS?If at all you are using unsupported windows versions with Windows XP, Server 2003, Vista or 2008, you should apply the emergency patch released by Microsoft today.
  • Enable Firewall:Enable firewall if not already done in individual systems or an organisation
  • Keep your Antivirus software up-to-date:Virus definitions released recently have already been updated to protect against this latest threat.
  • Backup Regularly:Always have a good backup in place to have a tight grip on all your critical and confidential data to an external storage device that is not always connected to your PC.
  • Beware of Phishing:Always be aware of uninvited documents sent as an email and never click on links inside those documents unless verifying the source or the individual.

 

Crazy technology ideas to tackle Demonetization situation in India

Black money is a big menace in Indian economy. There are businesses that run heavily on black money

 

Black money is a big menace in Indian economy. There are businesses that run heavily on black money transactions like real estate, textile, fertilizer, agriculture and FMCG etc. Black money transactions for economic activities in India is the main culprit for high tax evasion, terrorist activities, fake currency in economy, low per capita income and low GDP growth in India.

It was a historic event on 8th November, when the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi, declared the demonetization of 500 and 1000 INR currency notes. This was historic in the execution as well as it was very sudden and did not give any chance to black money holders to adjust the same. Lot of Indian citizens are supporting this marvelous and bold move though it created some inconveniences to citizens. Time will tell if these small inconveniences are worth the economic gains that economists are predicting.  As a software development company in India, we could not resist thinking of ways a technology can assist managing the chaos and long queues at banks and ATMs.

Cash deposit scheduling system by bank or RBI

Business owners, traders, house wives, farmers are some of the citizens who might have heavy cash piped up in their businesses or houses. Deposits of cash higher than threshold amount should be planned so that it should not cause inconvenience to general public who are in genuine need of cash for their day to day operations. Big cash deposits creates havoc at bank as it takes time. This can be managed by an online scheduling system or app. If such system is in place, cash deposits can be managed more effectively. This can also save time of citizens by avoiding long queues and such transactions can be processed faster at bank.

App or website to validate fake currency notes          

One of the reason of demonetization as cited by Government was to demolish face currency notes that has piped up heavily in the economy since long. If Government or bank can develop a mobile application or website that validates fake currency notes before deposit that can help citizens a lot.  Technical feasibility of such mobile app or website needs to be verified though. We believe RBI should work on some API or web service that can help achieve this.

Nearby ATM/bank locator with cash/no-cash status

Standing in ATM queue for hours and ATM runs out of cash the moment your turn comes can be very frustrating and disturbing. If a mobile app or website that can help citizens know the status of nearby ATM or bank that has cash for replacement or withdrawal can assist them a lot. Google recently published a service whereby user can locate the nearby ATM however this does not show the status if ATM has enough cash or no.

Avoidance of recurring withdrawals using biometrics or aadhar card linkage

As cited by few local newspapers, one of the biggest reason for long queue is dummy people withdrawing money on others’ behalf multiple times. If such recurring withdrawals can be monitored and controlled, you automatically control the long queues. Biometrics with aadhar linkage is one of the technical way to address this. I understand that complete elimination of such cases is beyond control however this can surely help a lot to control the long queues.

Online grievance redressal system and helpline

The moment the Prime Minister of India announced the demonetization of 500, 1000 INR currency notes, there are thousands of various types of rumors being spread via WhatsApp, Emails and SMS. A helpline number and an online system to address the grievances and inconveniences of citizen can be a great idea. There are people who do not know how to manage their cash even though that is their genuine earnings and is totally legitimate money like farmers’ earnings, housewives savings etc. If there can be a system by RBI or banks to address such grievances, it can help Govt. to control the situation.

RBI Notifications, alerts and messaging app

It has been observed that various kinds of notifications, orders etc. are being circulated by RBI regularly. Some of the notifications are like change in withdrawal limits, relaxation on various situations etc. are not reaching till the bottom. A mobile app or online website/webpage with such notifications, alerts and messages can help people to remain updated with the situation.

Increase of online services to farmers and other citizens

Govt. agencies like GNFC, IFFCO etc. should start providing fertilizers, chemicals, seeds etc. to farmers who are in dearth of currency notes on credit. This can assist people who are in genuine needs of currency notes. This can lower the public inconveniences and can also be good for overall economy.

Technical feasibility of above applications is not thoroughly reviewed, however if implemented with help of software development companies, can surely assist in managing the long queues at ATMs and Banks. It can also help government in addressing grievances of citizens and can help them in long run. This is not addressing economic impact though as we could not comment on economic impact of this move.

  

 

MakeMyTrip and Goibibo Merger

India is seen as next big internet market owing to digital revolution, economic growth and potential

Software outsourcing companies india


India is seen as next big internet market owing to digital revolution, economic growth and potential market strength. MakeMyTrip and Goibibo join hands to become a market leader in travel industry of Indian online travel segment.  (IndiaTimes, 2016) views this as a potential move to grab Indian market and tighten its grip over the market that MakeMyTrip already enjoys 35% stake.

About MakeMyTrip

MakeMyTrip is a travel company operating through online booking portal – http://www.makemytrip.com. It was founded in 2000 by Deep Kalra. It is an Indian company with headquarter in Gurgaon, Haryana.

About Ibibo Group

Ibibo group is an online travel company founded by Ashish Kashyap in 2007. (Livemint, 2016) states that the company is a subsidiary of Nasper. Nasper has 91% stake and TenCent has 9% stake in the Ibibo Group. Company operates through following brands.

  • Goibibo - Hotels and Air ticketing portal
  • redBus – Bus booking website portal
  • Ryde
  • Rightstay

About Merger

  • Ibibo (currently owned by Nasper) will be merged into MakeMyTrip
  • Merger is through stock transaction
  • (Medianama, 2016), Nasper-TenCent combine will become largest shareholder in new entity with 40% stake
  • (Medianama, 2016), Chinese OTA Ctrip, will have around 10% stake in new entity
  • (IndiaTimes, 2016) estimates the merger through sources at about $1.8-$2.0 billion
  • Morgan Stanley – financial advisor of MakeMyTrip
  • Goldman Sachs – financial advisor of Ibibo Group
  • All brands of Ibibo group like Goibibo, redBus, Ryde and Rightstay would come under MakeMyTrip (new entity)

Statistics

 

Business Share in Travel Industrysoftware outsourcing companies India

source : Medianame

                                     software outsourcing companies india

 

New organization structure

                                                                               Figure 2 New Organization Structure, Source: Livemint

 

  • Deep Kalra, Founder of MakeMyTrip – Group CEO and Executive Chairman, MakeMyTrip
  • Rajesh Magow, Co-founder of MakeMyTrip – CEO India, MakeMyTrip
  • Ashish Kashyap, Founder and CEO of ibibo Group – Co-founder and Presidnet of the organization (MakeMyTrip Executive team)

Bibliography

IndiaTimes. (2016, 10 19). EconomicTimes. Retrieved from EconomicTimes: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/startups/online-travel-portals-makemytrip-and-ibibo-announce-merger/articleshow/54921415.cms

Livemint. (2016, 10 19). Livemint. Retrieved from Livemint: http://www.livemint.com/Companies/W9atx25k79RpQcdbRxWuTP/MakeMyTrip-to-buy-rival-ibibo-Group.html

Medianama. (2016, 10 19). Medianama. Retrieved from Medianama: http://www.medianama.com/2016/10/223-makemytrip-ibibo/