6th March, 2018-IAS Current Affairs
(DOWNLOAD THE PDF AT THE END OF THIS PAGE)
‘Threat of a new Malware
Issue: Cybersecurity agencies have detected a new malware called Saposhi, which is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into ‘bots’, which can be then used for any purpose, including a Distributed Denial Of Service attack which, with enough firepower, can cripple entire industries.
What is a malware?
Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that is harmful to a computer user. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses and spyware. These malicious programs can perform a variety of functions, including stealing, encrypting or deleting sensitive data, altering or hijacking core computing functions and monitoring users’ computer activity without their permission.
How a malware operates?
- A malware is released into cyberspace, with specific instructions programmed into it. The instructions direct the malware to take over as many devices connected to the internet as possible.
- Depending on its programming, the malware turns internet-connected devices into ‘bots’, and starts building a botnet.
- Malwares like Reaper and Saposhi are capable of identifying weaknesses in devices and exploiting them to turn the devices into bots.
- Once a large enough botnet is created, simultaneous pings are sent to a single server, causing a server failure, which is called a Distributed Denial of Service attack.
- Depending on the size of the botnet, malwares can execute multiple DDOS attacks at the same time, or over a period of time.
What is DDOS?
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. They target a wide variety of important resources, from banks to news websites, and present a major challenge to making sure people can publish and access important information.
Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) is an office within the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. It is the nodal agency to deal with cyber security threats like hacking and phishing. It strengthens security-related defence of the Indian Internet domain.
CERT-In has been designated under Section 70B of Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008 to serve as the national agency to perform the following functions in the area of cyber security:
- Collection, analysis and dissemination of information on cyber incidents
- Forecast and alerts of cyber security incidents
- Emergency measures for handling cyber security incidents
- Coordination of cyber incident response activities
- Issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes and whitepapers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response and reporting of cyber incidents
‘Iraq is top crude oil supplier to India’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Iraq has overtaken Saudi Arabia by a wide margin to become India’s top crude oil supplier, meeting more than a fifth of the country’s oil needs in the current financial year. Iran continued to be the third largest supplier. Venezuela is India’s fourth largest supplier with 15.5 MT during April-January, followed by Nigeria with 14.9 MT
(GS3: Indian Economy)
Issue: The Reserve Bank of India will inject Rs 1 lakh crore short term money into the banking system ahead of the financial year-end that normally sees cash crunch. The central bank will use a combination of appropriate instruments for such fund infusion, while continuing with its normal liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) operations.
What is Liquid Adjustment Facility (LAF)?
A liquidity adjustment facility (LAF) is a tool used in monetary policy that allows banks to borrow money through repurchase agreements. This arrangement allows banks to respond to liquidity pressures and is used by governments to assure basic stability in the financial markets.
Liquidity adjustment facilities are used to aid banks in resolving any short-term cash shortages during periods of economic instability or from any other form of stress caused by forces beyond their control. Various banks will use eligible securities as collateral through a repo agreement and will use the funds to alleviate their short-term requirements, thus remaining stable.
The facilities are implemented on a day-to-day basis as banks and other financial institutions ensure they have enough capital in the overnight market. The transacting of liquidity adjustment facilities are conducted via auction at a set time of the day. An entity wishing to raise capital to fulfill a shortfall will engage in repo agreements and one with excess capital will do the opposite; a reverse repo.
(GS3: Conservation of Environment)
Issue: As many as 32 lions died due to “unnatural causes” like falling into wells or being run over by trains in 2016 and 2017 in Gir Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
Steps taken to prevent this:
- Several open wells near the sanctuary have been now secured by constructing parapet walls, and walls would also be built around the remaining wells
- Construction of fences along the railway tracks passing through Amreli district and building speed breakers on roads passing through the sanctuary area.
About Gir Wildlife Sanctuary
Gir Forest National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary is a forest and wildlife sanctuary near Talala Gir in Gujarat, India. It was established in 1965. Its ecoregion is that of Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests, which not only includes Kathiawar Peninsula, where the forest is located, but also other places, like Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan
Its region is the sole home of the Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persica) in the wilderness, and is considered to be one of the most important protected areas in Asia due to its supported species. The ecosystem of Gir, with its diverse flora and fauna, is protected as a result of the efforts of the government forest department, wildlife activists and NGOs
About Asiatic Lion
The Asiatic lion (Panthera leo leo) is a lion population in Gujarat, India, which is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List because of its small population size. Since 2010, the lion population in and around Gir Forest National Park has steadily increased. In May 2015, the 14th Asiatic Lion Census was conducted over an area of about 20,000 km2 (7,700 sq mi); the lion population was estimated at 523 individuals, comprising 109 adult males, 201 adult females and 213 cubs. In August 2017, the Asiatic Lion Census revealed 650 wild individuals
What is International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list?
The IUCN Global Species Programme working with the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC) has been assessing the conservation status of species, subspecies, varieties, and even selected subpopulations on a global scale for the past 50 years in order to highlight taxa threatened with extinction, and thereby promote their conservation. Although today we are operating in a very different political, economic, social and ecological world from that when the first IUCN Red Data Book was produced, the IUCN Global Species Programme, working with the Species Survival Commission and many partners, remains firmly committed to providing the world with the most objective, scientifically-based information on the current status of globally threatened biodiversity. The plants, fungi and animals assessed for The IUCN Red List are the bearers of genetic diversity and the building blocks of ecosystems, and information on their conservation status and distribution provides the foundation for making informed decisions about conserving biodiversity from local to global levels.
The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ provides taxonomic, conservation status and distribution information on plants, fungi and animals that have been globally evaluated using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria. This system is designed to determine the relative risk of extinction, and the main purpose of the IUCN Red List is to catalogue and highlight those plants and animals that are facing a higher risk of global extinction (i.e. those listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable). The IUCN Red List also includes information on plants, fungi and animals that are categorized as Extinct or Extinct in the Wild; on taxa that cannot be evaluated because of insufficient information (i.e., are Data Deficient); and on plants, fungi and animals that are either close to meeting the threatened thresholds or that would be threatened were it not for an ongoing taxon-specific conservation programme (i.e., are Near Threatened).
Plants, fungi and animals that have been evaluated to have a low risk of extinction are classified as Least Concern. The Least Concern assessments did not appear on IUCN Red Lists produced before 2003 (except for a few that were listed in 1996) because the main focus of attention has been on threatened species. However, for the sake of transparency and to place threatened assessments in context, all Least Concern assessments are now included on The IUCN Red List. Thus, despite its title, The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ does not just focus on threatened species; it considers the status of all species across an increasing number of taxonomic groups. In the past, there has unfortunately been no formal reporting process to capture all the Least Concern assessments; hence the list of Least Concern species on The IUCN Red List is not comprehensive (i.e., many species have been assessed to be Least Concern, but as that information was never formally captured, the listings do not appear on the Red List).
The IUCN Global Species Programme maintains the information behind The IUCN Red List in a centralized database as part of the Species Information Service (SIS). An extract of that information is made publicly available via a searchable database on this web site The records for all plants, fungi and animals listed in the Red List Categories described above are accessible here and they can be viewed by using the Search functions on the home page.
Only a small number of the world’s plant, fungi and animal species have been assessed. In addition to the many thousands of species which have not yet been assessed (i.e., are Not Evaluated), other species that are not included on The IUCN Red List are those that went extinct before 1500 AD and Least Concern species that have not yet been data based. The species groups that have been comprehensively assessed include the amphibians, birds, mammals, freshwater crabs, warm-water reef building corals, conifers and cycads.
‘Conrad Sangma appointed as the 12th Chief Minister of Meghalaya’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Conrad Sangma, the 40-year-old chief of the National People’s Party (NPP), today took oath as the 12th chief minister of Meghalaya as the head of a five-party coalition.
Article 163 of the Indian Constitution pertains to the appointment of council of ministers and Chief Minister
- There shall be a Council of Ministers with the Chief Minister at the head to aid and advice the Governor in the exercise of his function, except in so far as he is by or under this Constitution required to exercise his functions or any of them in his discretion.
- If any question arises whether any matter is or is not a matter as respects which the Governor is by or under this Constitution required to act in his discretion, the decision of the Governor in his discretion shall be final, and the validity of anything done by the Governor shall not be called in question on the ground that he ought or ought not to have acted in his discretion.
- The question whether any, and if so what, advice was tendered by Ministers to the Governor shall not be inquired into in any court
Article 164 of the Indian Constitution which pertains to the provisions relating to ministers
- The Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor and the other Ministers shall be appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister, and the Minister shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor: Provided that in the States of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa, there shall be a Minister in charge of tribal welfare who may in addition be in charge of the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and backward classes or any other work.
- The Council of Minister shall be collectively responsible to the Legislative Assembly of the State.
- Before a Minister enters upon his office, the Governor shall administer to him the oaths of office and of secrecy according to the forms set out for the purpose in the Third Schedule.
- A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the Legislature of the State shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a Minister.
- The salaries and allowances of Ministers shall be such as the Legislature of the State may from time to time by law determine and, until the Legislature of the State so determines, shall be a specified in the Second Schedule.
‘Oscars 2018’ (Facts that could be asked in prelims)
The 90th edition of the Academy Awards took place in Hollywood Sunday night. Some of the important winners are given below:
1. Best Picture: The Shape of Water
2. Directing: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
3. Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele, Get Out
4. Original Score: The Shape of Water
5. Animated Feature Film: Coco
The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of 24 awards for artistic and technical merit in the American film industry, given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), to recognize excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy’s voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the “Academy Award of Merit”, which has become commonly known by its nickname “Oscar”.
List of Indians nominated and of those Indians who have won the Oscars
‘Manu Bhaker’ (Facts that could be asked in Prelims)
Partnering Om Prakash Mitharval, Manu Bhaker clinched the 10m air pistol mixed team title, a day after she won the women’s 10m air pistol individual gold in a mixed team pistol event as India maintained their spectacular stranglehold on the season’s first ‘International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup’ in Guadalajara, Mexico.